The 1883 balance sheet shows they spent 3 shillings on stationary and postage so I thought there may have been some correspondence with the Haigh Estate. Or there may even have been some earlier correspondence between Rev. James and the Earl or Countess about the beginning of the society or about them coming to the show in 1884. So, as the archivist in Wigan had told me that some of the documents of the Earls of Crawford and the Haigh Estate are held in the Library of Scotland, I contacted the archives section. The reply I received was a bit disappointing. The archivist had checked the inventory for the extensive collection of 80 plus boxes and was sorry to report that there was nothing relating to the New Springs Floral Society or New Springs Horticultural Society. For my interest, he attached the draft of that inventory in which there is much about the management of the estate in general, but nothing specifically about my request.
So I had a look at the inventory. He was right – there was much about the management of the estate in general and nothing specific about NSHS. However there were some boxes which contained correspondence from the time when the society began. For example, Estate Box 37 contained:
- Letters to J.W. Fair from the 25th Earl & Countess of C., mainly on the continent, principally the Haigh estate, 1879-80.
- Copy letters of J.W. Fair to the 25th Earl and Countess (subsequently Dowager Countess) of C. the Haigh estate, 1879-82.
- Letters mainly between J.W. Fair, Haigh, and the Hon. Colin Lindsay, 1881-8.
- Letters of and to J.W. Fair on estate matters, 1881-93.
There were a couple of other boxes like this and some containing bundles of papers tantalisingly called “miscellaneous.” Could be something there? I thought the archivist had probably only looked at the index and not what was actually in the boxes. So I wrote back and asked how I could find out more detail.
He replied that he would do some investigation on my behalf. If I sent him the reference numbers of the items I had identified he would look in the folders, skim their contents and let me know if there is anything relating to allotments or shows. I might be fortunate. He also said that he was very busy and it would take some time. This was back at the end of May and I have not heard anything yet. I am thinking that I may have to arrange a few days holiday in Edinburgh to go and look for myself!