Floral pageantry
Spalding’s famous flower parade was first held in 1958, and was described as “a floral pageantry a mile long.” Since then millions of people from all over the world have joined in the celebrations. More>>

Blooming industry
Spalding has been known as a market garden area since the 1880s and at its peak, the Spalding bulb industry was spread over 10,000 acres and produced more than 3,000 tons of flowers. More>>

Turning the tide
In the year 1000 South Lincolnshire was half its present size. It wasn't until the 17th Century that Dutch engineers embanked the rivers and set the Welland on its present course to claim the Fens from the water. More>>

Bringing the news
Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian have been bringing the news to you for 154 years. It all began in 1847, when journalist Henry Watkinson was persuaded to publish a Spalding newspaper by his friend John Gardiner. More>>

Out and about
As well as Ayscoughfee Hall, dating from 1420 and with a permanent exhibition of exhibits from local life and art gallery, there are a number of other buildings of historical interest to see in Spalding. More>>

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Blooming industry

At its peak the Spalding bulb industry moved 3,000 tons of flowers in 375,000 boxes with 12 to 18 bunches in each box from Spalding Station each year.

That was back in 1939 when 10,000 acres were turned over to growing bulbs locally.

It was a long way from the first plot of tulips grown commercially in the country in Spalding by Mr Sam Culpin on land which is now houses in the appropriately named Culpin’s Close.

Spalding had been known as a market garden area back in the 1880s, but J T White, Dick Wellband and Oscar D’Alcorn were to pioneer the bulb industry locally growing tulips, daffodils, crocus, snowdrops and iris.

The coming of the railway was the turning point for the industry, opening up links to major towns and cities where many farm workers had moved to during the Victorian industrial revolution.

Living in dark, polluted cities in back to back homes with no gardens they remembered flowers and wanted to have them in their homes. A small price to pay for a bunch of happiness.

Towns had big municipal parks and the main feature in these parks were huge flower beds of which the focal point was daffodils and tulips – all supplied by the local industry.

By 1931, 1,500 men and women were employed on 3,000 acres of bulbs. The work was hard as tulip bulbs are very fragile and had to be planted by hand, lifted by hand, graded by hand and the pay per bucket was only between 3d and 6d.

The flowers were cut when in full bloom – not like today when we expect to see them in bud. With no central heating in homes the flowers would last longer and people wanted to see what they were getting.

Presentation was everything, with the flowers bunched by women, forced to work in silence in packing sheds where the blooms were placed on a hand turned conveyer belt. The two raffia ties per bunch had to be placed at exactly the same intervals down every stem.

The bunches were then packed into paper lined boxes. The production of boxes by Spalding biggest manufacturer, Grooms, provided more jobs for the area. The boxes were then put on a hand cart and pulled by men or on horse and carts to the nearest station.

There was a big business in forced flowers too – providing work for glass house manufacturers, the biggest being Simpsons of Spalding. By 1920 Spalding had 21 acres of glass growing forced flowers.

Bulb facts

  • 1900 – 500 acres of bulbs, the main crop was daffodils.
  • 1907 – the first large plot of tulips grown by Sam Culpin.
  • 1931 – 1,500 men and women employed on 3,000 acres of bulbs.
  • 1936 – 2,000 workers on 3,256 acres of bulbs.
  • 1939 – 10,000 acres of bulbs.
  • 1943 – 915 acres of bulbs.
  • 1965 – 4,000 acres of daffodils, 3,000 acres of tulips and 130 acres of glass.
  • 1966 – Spalding Bulb Company employ 500.
    3,000 acres of bulbs of which 500 are tulips.
  • 1967 – Geest take over Spalding Bulb Company.
  • 1975 – 10,000 acres of bulbs, 1,500 of which are tulips.
  • 1985 – 10,000 acres of bulbs, 2,000 of which are tulips.
  • 1999 – less than 1,000 acres of tulips grown by a small handful of growers.

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