How Chorley in Bloom is getting crafty

A Lancashire town is showing that community counts when it comes to spreading flower power.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 7:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 8:23 pm
Iris Smith and Kay Carson with a Bloom creation

Chorley in Bloom team members are working flat out (no pun intended) on this year’s displays.

Centre stage will be a new addition to the Chorley in Bloom armoury - the town’s crafters. A floral bedecked huge flat iron will be their attention capturing main contribution to the town’s entry in North West in Bloom.

The iron, which will be covered in thousands of knitted and crocheted flowers and squares is a reference to one of the town’s most iconic sites - the flat iron market.

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Chorley in Bloom volunteers at work

Bloom group founder and its Chair Iris Smith, a keen crafter and gardener, explained: “Chorley is very famous for its flat iron market. The flat irons were what they used to put on blankets on the floor and put their wares on. Irons held the blankets in place. I thought it would be absolutely fantastic to have a huge flat iron.

“The frame is 7 ft by 4 feet. plus it’s going to have about two foot plinths on it. It’s going to get up to about nine feet. It’s just blowing me away, the number of people who have been involved.”

Kay Carson is one of those who got involved. She said: “I saw a shared post on FaceBook appealing for the public to knit and crochet squares for the Chorley in Bloom contest. Iris had been inspired by seeing some things at Hampton Court (flower show) and came back and thought it would be fantastic to involve crafters in Chorley in Bloom. I’m part of a small crafting group.”

Groups including one Iris set up at The Buttonhole in Chorley and many, many individuals of all age groups have answered the call.

Work in progress: Committee member Gillian Broughton helping to create Chorley in Bloom's flat iron

Kay said: “We’re simply enhancing the town. We’re making it look gorgeous, not only with flowers and plants, but we’re also introducing crafts and by doing that we are able to get more people involved.”

At present the iron is a work in progress, located in an empty shop unit, next to the Costa shop in Market Walk. Volunteers are welcome. Opening times vary and can be found on the group’s Facebook page .

The craft Bloomers will also be working on a mill model - a nod to Chorley’s past as a town of many mills, including the renowned local landmark Botany Bay mill. Iris’s husband, a former engineer, has created the iron and mill skeletons and crafters are supplying the decoration, which, in the case of the mill, just may include a tiny abseiler ...a reference to when Iris abseiled down Botany Bay mill for charity.

The works will be displayed in St Thomas’s Square in time for the July 17 judging of the North West Britain in Bloom contest. The display will also go on show at Chorley Flower Show on July 26/27. Meanwhile Iris is negotiating for it to appear at Southport Flower Show and hopes to see it displayed in one of the new units at the Market Walk extension later in the year.

A young crafter who made the primrose necklace for the Disraeli statue is pictured with Iris Smith, chair and founder of Chorley in Bloom

How Chorley in Bloom keeps on growing

Iris Smith set up Chorley in Bloom five years ago.

She said: “The council wanted a voluntary group to work with them and I was asked to form a committee and get going. We actually put Chorley in the North West in Bloom comeptitions. It’s a gardening group really, but more community as well.”

So far they have scooped several gold awards, and hope their latest efforts will see them elevated to compete in the national Britain in Bloom contest.

Kay Carson with one of her flower creations

Iris, a retired teacher, reckons more than 2,000 people are or have been involved in the Bloom group’s gardening work plus 250 crafters. These range from individuals to members of scouts and guide groups, sight loss charity Galloway’s, the local gardening club, disabled groups and other community groups.

Kay Carson, one of the keen crafters who has joined Chorley in Bloom, said: “It is just making Chorley much prettier, just enhancing the town.

“When you see such beauty around the place it makes you proud to live in Chorley.”

If you would like to help Chorley in Bloom contact

Leyland Age Concern's contribution to Chorley in Bloom