The Challenge Cup


Last week we attended the annual prize giving of NSHS (we didn`t win anything), with hot pot supper and a visit from the Mayor and a good time was had by all.  Each year there are prizes for winners of the big veg competition and for the best kept gardens.  The overall winner is awarded the Challenge Cup – I knew this was an old, silver cup, but through reading the archives I have been able to find out more:

At the AGM in february 1926 a letter was read from Miss Rawcliffe offering the society a Challenge Cup, which the meeting thought should be awarded for best cropped and best kept garden.  The committee organised a presentation evening (charge 6d each), when the cup was awarded by Mr Whittaker with a short lecture by Mr Moorfield and Mr Hulse – these gentlemen have all been mentioned in the minutes previously associated with organising and judging the 1924 show, so were probably local head gardeners or horticulturalists of note. There was a social evening with a potato pie to follow (any offers of potatoes or meat accepted).

Who was Miss Rawcliffe?  According to the 1924 show schedule Miss D M Rawcliffe was president of the society.  In the minutes of that year it was resolved that Mr Heyes should spend up to 10/- on a bouquet to be presented to her at the show.  According to Wigan World, Henry Rawcliffe owned Haigh Brewery, which was behind the Balcarres arms in Haigh (it`s gone now).  Haigh Hall archives show that there was a Miss D Rawcliffe invited to a garden party in 1911.  So I assume she was related to the Haigh Brewery Rawcliffes in some way, which would have made her a local dignitary and with enough money to donate a cup.  I also found a little book for sale in Abe Books – Poems by Dorothy M Rawcliffe published by R Platt Ltd, Wigan, in August 1914.  So, if this is the same person her first name was Dorothy.  The booklet is dedicated to those heroes, naval and military who have obeyed the call of their King and Country, and the proceeds were to be handed over to the Prince of Wales` Fund for the relief of the distress occasioned by war.  I`m not very good with poetry, but they do seem to be saying something about lost love.  Then I thought of the four sons of Rev James (whose idea NSHS was in the first place) who were killed in the first world war and wondered if she had loved one of them.

Or maybe not – I found this photograph in the NSHS archives.  It doesn`t have a date but it looks like it could have been taken in the 1920s or 30s.  Perhaps the rather formidable looking lady presenting the Challenge Cup is Miss Rawcliffe.


This is a picture of the cup in more recent times – maybe in the 1980s?


While I was at the prizegiving last week I took the opportunity of having a look at the names inscribed on cup, on little shields around the base.  T Pilkington won it first in 1926, Peter C Parr in 1927 and 1928, Thomas Gray in 1929.

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