SOUTHAMPTON Common was once also the home to the Balloon and Flower Festival, a tradition that dated back decades - delivered in various forms throughout the years.

The event was known as Southampton Show, the Victory Garden Show and Fete during the Second World War, and, before that, the Royal Counties Agricultural Show.

For decades the event provided locals with an opportunity to showcase local talent, skills and hobbies, while also providing a shop window for local organisations and groups.

Every year the main arena thundered to the hooves of some of the country’s top showjumping horses while marquees were crammed full of homemade exhibits including cakes, wines, pottery and complicated knitting.

The horticultural tent was a major attraction up until the final Balloon and Flower Festival in 2004. Stalls in the makeshift structures were lined with colourful flowers, scrubbed carrots, plump broad beans and gleaming onions.

Many local residents have fond memories of seeing the hot-air balloons take shape on the fields, hearing the whoosh of flames, and feeling the searing heat from behind the tape.

Favourites such as Bertie Bassett, the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny, AGFA’s film cannister and Rupert the Bear were regulars - providing spectators with a smile every time.

These pictures show the event taking shape on July 10 and 11, 1959, and depict the dog show, showjumping and more.