National Auricula & Primula Society
Northern Section
Northern Section
John Wayne


Welcome to our Archive section

Welcome to the new webpage dedicated to all things Auricula and Primula from the extensive Archive held by the Society.

The archive holds an assortment of material available to members for enjoyment or research and if anyone would like a full list of its contents, they can e-mail the Archivist, Lesley Key on naps1873@gmail.com.

The biggest asset in the collection is the Year Books dating from the first in 1904 up to the present date. They have all been scanned in various formats and can be viewed on a computer. They can be sent out to members via a flash drive or memory stick (member providing stick/drive and paying postage).

Over the coming months it is intended to share interesting extracts from the books and to introduce past members who shaped the Society.

Recent additions to the Archive have been a file on Cups and Trophies with profiles of the people who donated them and a file on Auricula Theatres, their history and use today.

We also hold a collection of American Primrose Society magazines, Scottish/Midland/Southern Society Year Books of various dates, old Nursery catalogues, and collections of magazine and newspaper articles on all things Auricula and Primula.

The Committee minute books from 1873 – 2010 make fascinating reading. Another file has recently been added by the Archivist, of Newspaper cuttings, mainly Manchester papers from 1873 – 1903, before the Yearbook was started.

This is not an exhaustive list but gives you a flavour of what is held, and what can be accessed, to provide an afternoon of reading on all things Auricula!

Ben Simmonite

Archive Miscellany - February 2021.

Our first look at some of the items from our past Year Books, we start this month with one of our renowned growers.

Ben Simmonite was one of the founders of the original society in 1873. His death was noted in the 1910 Northern Section Year Book:

"It is with mixed feelings that one writes the report of our thirty-sixth annual show; for the recent death of Mr. Ben Simonite (sic), who had worked so long and so faithfully to improve the flower that we love, cast a shadow over us all. ....."

The Northern Section 1928 Year Book began a series of articles on the Society founders, there only being the one Society in 1873, the first in that series being Ben Simmonite.

Ben Simmonite


"We are justly proud of this Northerner, and all Auricula growers owe him a debt of gratitude for the work he accomplished.

When a youth he came in contact with Horner, afterwards the Rev. F. D., and the closest friendship was established through their mutual love of the Auricula. It is well known that they exchanged plants for the sake of the pollen, and Simmonite acted the distributing agent. He once told a friend that for the first ten years he never raised a thing worth a brass farthing. Nevertheless, he was the actual raiser of Rev. F. D. Horner, Shirley Hibberd (another old friend), Dr. Hardy, Raven, Ruby, Gladiator, Cleopatra, and about a score of others. There was little concerning the Auricula and Polyanthus, either as regards cultivation or history, that he was not conversant with. Born June 24th, 1834, died March 29th, 1909. On his tombstone in the Cemetery, City Road, Sheffield, is a medallion of an Auricula plant."