More than 130 guests attended a gala dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Springfields Gardens back in April 1966.
Speakers shared their memories and reminiscences at the event, held at Springfields Events and Conference Centre, and press cuttings and old Horticultural Exhibition trophies were on show.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach recalled the vision and determination of everyone involved in the original planning and delivery of what was to become the “shop window” for the British bulb industry as well as a major visitor attraction for South Lincolnshire.
Peter Atkinson, Springfields Horticultural Society general manager until 1999, spoke about the celebrities and famous visitors to the gardens, including the Queen Mother in 1986, as well as the many challenges faced by the Society over the years to keep the gardens looking their best, particularly when gardens visitor numbers began to decline at the end of the 1980s.
Adrian Jansen of Lingarden Bulbs, who for many years was involved as one of the “Ops Team” making sure that the Flower Parade was safely directed around the town, paid tribute to all those involved in supporting the Parade.
He particularly acknowledged parade blacksmith Geoff Dodd who had the difficult task of converting the conceptual drawings of the float designs into the unique steel sculptures which became the frames of the floats which could then be headed with tulips.
Ian Sanderson, on behalf of the Springfields Outlet Shopping management team, reflected on the many years he personally had worked with the Society’s trustees and South Holland District Council to deliver what has now become one of the East Midlands’ most successful visitor destinations.
Looking to the future, he hoped to continue to work with the Society’s trustees and the Spalding town centre management board to further develop both Springfields and Spalding town as attractive places to visit.
One final guest given a warm welcome by everyone was the Society’s first head gardener Jim Jack, who had travelled down from his home on the Isle of Arran.
Current Springfields Horticultural Society chief executive David Norton said: “Whilst there have been many changes over the last 50 years, I am pleased to see that 12 years on from the opening of the Springfields Outlet Shopping and Festival Gardens development, the original concepts and founding principles considered as important by those whose inspired vision helped create the gardens have been retained.
“The history and heritage associated with the area’s bulb and flower growing industry has been preserved and, because of our partnership with UBS and the outlet shopping retailers, the gardens can remain, for many years to come, as a free-to-enter community resource.
“They promote gardening as a means of relaxation, enjoyment and well-being whilst remaining as an enduring testament to those founder members who had the confidence to put their names (and their money) into creating what is the most visual symbol of the importance of horticulture to South Lincolnshire’s past, present and future.
• More pictures were published in this Thursday’s Spalding Guardian.