Commemorating a rich history

Commemorating a rich history

Rare historical footage of Northumberland’s biggest agricultural showcase is being made available to the public for the first time.

Full-colour clips offering a window on life at Northumberland County Show as far back as 1954 have been included in two DVD compilations to commemorate this year’s event on Bank Holiday Monday, June 4 – the last show to be held at Corbridge after more than 60 years.  

Excerpts from 50 hours of footage, capturing everything from crowds gathering on show day and spectacular main arena acts to the judging of livestock classes and exhibits in the ever-popular industrial tent, will give viewers an insight into the proud heritage of the event.

Members of Tynedale Agricultural  Society, the organisers of the show, have spent recent months cataloguing the decades of cine film, VHS and DVD footage, before researching the background of each annual event to set the recordings to an informative commentary.

In the days when record-breaking crowds regularly topped the 40,000 mark, the DVD charting the show in the years 1954 to 1969, shows images of the days when Guernsey and Aberdeen Angus cattle were common place on the show ground and steam trains brought in excess of 18,000 visitors into Corbridge station.

Main arena acts included a marching display by the regimental band of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, a “Songs on Wheels” display which saw members of 15 Women’s Institutes from across the county staging a display of floats decorated to reflect popular theatrical songs of the day and a colourful presentation of frontier life in North America with cowboys and Indians.

In 1964 a more unusual yet breath taking attraction took centre stage.

A pedigree Ayrshire bull called William was trained by his owner Colin Newlove to jump over fences and through blazing hoops while saddled and mounted.  As well as becoming one of the show’s most memorable attractions William, who took two years to train, also regularly hunted with the Derwent Valley Beagles.

Growing visitor numbers and entries in competitive classes coming in at well over the 4,000 mark prompted organisers of what was then an August show to extend into a two-day event in 1965.

This was followed by the introduction of the first ever Spring show in May 1967, followed by the usual summer show in August that year.

Shows continued until the late 1960’s when the impact of having been hit by foot and mouth, Brucellosis and three years of poor weather in quick succession lead to the demise of Tyneside Agricultural Society bringing about a brief interruption in the show’s history.

However, 1982 saw a revival and, with the creation of Tynedale Agricultural Society, the late 1980s saw the launch of the Northumberland County Show as we know it today, which has taken place during the Spring Bank Holiday weekend ever since.

Show day on Bank Holiday Monday, June 4, will be the only time the DVDs will be physically sold. There are plans for stalls and sales points around the show ground with a discount for the purchase of both DVDs. For those who can’t wait until then, or are unable to make it on show day, orders can be placed from Tuesday, May 1 by emailing or by telephoning the show office on 01434 604216.