Garden judging

A prize for the best cropped and best kept garden was awarded as part of the early shows. In 1924 the entrance fee was 6d per double and 4d per single garden and the prize was 5/- for each single and double garden.   Mr Boyd (Haigh Hall head gardener at the time) was asked to judge the gardens on two occasions of his choice between July 1st and August 23rd.  Stakes were ordered beforehand, one driven into each garden and each garden numbered.  In 1926 they asked him to judge the gardens three times between the second week in June and the end of August.  In 1927 the number of visits was reduced to twice, once in June and once in July. Mr Boyd judged the gardens throughout the 1920s with another gentleman, Mr Irvine.  The secretary accompanied them as they went around the gardens and they were given their tea.

The judging created a couple of difficulties for the committee.  The first was that the gardens were different sizes.  Some people had a single garden, some double, but others varied in between and there were disputes about whether these should be judged as single or double.  In 1924 they decided that all gardens over 4/- (I assume this is the annual rent – a single garden was 3s 9d) should be judged as double.  In 1926 they resolved that all gardens over a single and less than a double should be judged as single.  At the beginning of 1927 it was suggested that a maximum area of 100 square yards should be shown in the competition, but they decided against this and resolved that the gardens in dispute would be measured up.  Then, in view of the fact that the smallest garden was 130 square yards, they resolved that the maximum shown in the competition should be 130 square yards.  Each garden was duly measured, strung and pegged off and checked by the secretary before the judging took place.

The second difficulty was the presence of plot holders on the gardens at the time of the judging.  In 1926 they resolved that the gardens should be unoccupied during judging time and the secretary put up a notice to that effect.  However, after the first judging (it happened 3 times that year) some members stayed on their garden.  So they resolved again that no person should be allowed on the gardens during the judging, those who had done so were officially asked to comply with the committees decision, and a second notice put up.  Some members continued to ignore the committee and a further resolution was passed to ask them for an explanation, with an unsuccessful amendment that they should be debarred from the competition. This time two notices were posted on the gates during the time of the judging.

1926 was the year of the general strike in support of the miners, so all the time this was happening on the allotments there was real deprivation in Wigan.  It is difficult to see how this did not impact on the plot holders, but there is little evidence of it in the minutes.

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