A LONG-RUNNING gardening organisation which has operated for more than a century has closed down as a result of several unavoidable factors.

The Colchester Rose & Horticultural Society, which has remarkably survived for more than 125 years, has officially called it a day, its secretary Jackie Briggs has confirmed.

The much-loved community group used to hold regular meetings and host once-popular horticultural shows, but interest has waned.

The society’s figurehead, Andrew Witard, can also no longer carry on in his position and members do not believe there to be anyone suitable to take over the reins.

As a result, the society’s heartbroken bosses have been left with no choice but to call time on the organisation.

Devastated Jackie said: “It is with great sadness I report the Colchester Rose & Horticultural Society has closed – this is due to many things.

“The pandemic has played a part, but it is mostly due to the disabling effects of the illness suffered by our dear chairman - he is irreplaceable.

“Our membership has also declined and is on the more mature end of the spectrum, which makes running horticultural shows impossible.”

The Colchester Rose & Horticultural Society first launched back in 1828 to cater to the gardening lovers in the town and saw a garden and arboretum installed in East Hill.

It was originally named the Colchester and Essex Botanical and Horticultural Society and would hold flower and vegetable shows twice a year.

By 1890, however, support for the society had dwindled and bad weather eventually put the society to bed, much to the upset of green-fingered residents.

Four years later, however, Essex County Standard owner Charles Benham and mayor Claude Egerton-Green reinstated the group.

Jackie added: “Colchester has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and is not the market town and rose-growing centre it once was and we recognise it is time to call it a day.

“We would like to thank those of you who supported us by visiting our shows and even entering our competitions.”

To return of a Colchester Rose & Horticultural Society trophy, email colchesterrose