The Skelton 125th Show Programme - 2019

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Skelton 125th Show

The

Cumbrian Local Publications • Issue No. 148 • July 2019


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Where to begin

The year is 1880 Queen Victoria was on the throne and from January to March the great fog engulfed London. In the February, the first successful shipment of frozen mutton from Australia had arrived in London on the SS Strathleven, the Conservative Party lost the general election on 8th March to the Liberal Party and William Ewart Gladstone succeeded Benjamin Disraeli as Prime Minister. It was a year that Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance had its London debut at the Opera Comique on the Strand in London and the first stone was laid for Truro Cathedral in Cornwall. Collier underground explosions took the lives of around 450 souls. In the August, Greenwich Mean Time was adopted as the legal standard throughout Great Britain by the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act. The first Cricket Test match was held in Britain. In Scotland, A&R Scott began producing Scott’s Midlothian Oat Flour in 1880. In Glasgow this was eventually to take the name Scott’s Porridge Oats, which was adopted in 1914. Now, you can find a lot on Wikipedia these days. You can search for almost anything. In the 1800’s, agriculture did experience a decline as 1000 flocked to the big cities for a better life, thankfully not too many from Skelton. In Cumberland in 1880, the first Skelton show took place. Of course, things have certainly changed since then and the show we see today is based on the work and perseverance of a changing community which has harnessed tradition and innovation for 139 years. Today we celebrate the 125th show. Weather, wars and foot and mouth have for many years prevented the show from taking place, but here we are, one year on from 140

years of when a field at the village became the show field for the first time. I must confess I am very new to the show, this being my 10th year, but to put this small summary together of what I could find out about the show, I interviewed some key people whose families have for generations covered all or most of those 125 shows. What follows is a transcript from some interviews, supported by images and memories from those living as they recall and now share with you their experience of the Skelton Show. I am hoping that it is just the beginning of compiling the history of the Skelton Show. As you step on to the field today, even if this is for the first time, you will be joining many generations of families from all backgrounds. Some like you are here for the first time. Just like some of the people I have interviewed, they can’t remember their first time, as they were in a pram for their first visit, but I reckon they’ll be here today with their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, which of course means mams, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, which is evident that the Skelton family is rooted to the heart of its community and is as strong today as it was that August day in 1880. My thanks to John Slee, Stan Mounsey and his wife Audrey, David Crowden, Nancy Hullock, Antonia Reid and Colin Atkinson. I’ll be back in 2020 to celebrate the Skelton Show being established 140 years, hopefully you will too. Lee Quinn, Editor Cumbrian Local Publications

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Skelton show …

Celebrating the 125th show throughout the years According to committee records, this year is the 125th agricultural show which will be held on Saturday 6th July. Held in the delightful setting of the Old Park at Hutton-in the-Forest, this traditional country show has earned a reputation for being an excellent day out in the countryside for all the family. This year the main ring attraction will be the Fell Pony Society’s official Display Team who will perform a musical ride and a ‘then and now’ pageant showcasing the history and versatility of the local heritage breed – the Fell pony. Costumed riders will have fun showing off their ponies while the commentary covers the history

of ponies in Cumbria from pack ponies, farming and Border Reivers up to present day with Pony Club Games, endurance rides, drag hunts, carriage driving and allround family fun. In addition, we will be entertained by the Ullswater Community College Cheer Leaders squad who will perform a couple of dance routines; plus there will be the traditional fast and furious scurry racing and the calmer Concours d’Elegance equestrian riders who were extremely popular last year. Another ring attraction will be the fun Terrier Racing spectacles which always cause much hilarity and laughter. We are also pleased to be hosting the 15 stone World championship in the Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling which this year has a total prize pot of £750. Commenting on our 125th event, Show Director John Slee comments “We are delighted to have reached this milestone and looking back through the archives we have found some fascinating material which illustrates the ups and downs of rural life during the last 140 years as a number of shows were cancelled in that time.” And it’s not just our 125th year but also the Penrith Town Band. This local brass band has performed at the Skelton Show many times throughout the years and their tunes always add to the showground atmosphere, so it’s fitting that we share the same anniversary!

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Chairman Andrew Bargh, is keen to reiterate the traditional agricultural aspects which are at the heart of Skelton show: “as well as cattle and sheep (including the new Dutch Texel Classes and Coloured Ryelands), there is a marquee full of classes for children plus cooking, painting, floral arts, vegetables and walking sticks. Other attractions include the ever popular dog show, pony sports and over 150 trade stands. The Vintage Vehicle Section continues to expand and is a sight to see (and hear) when all the vehicles enter the main ring in file for the grand parade”. Our ever popular horse section continues to grow with something for everyone in our equestrian section – from Shetlands to Heavy Horses and at all levels to allow every competitor to participate and enjoy their show.

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The Skelton 125th Show - 5


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The extensive Taste@Skelton Food Festival and the expanded Gifts and Crafts tents provide a wide range of local produce to taste and purchase plus the Fur and Feathers tent and family Dog Show all ensure there is plenty to do and see for all the family. A wide variety of food

and bar facilities all add to the enjoyment of the day. Following Beverley Bargh’s retirement, having held the position for 12 years, the newly appointed Treasurer Charlotte Pollock adds “We have maintained our admission prices this year and are confident the show will once again provide excellent value and entertainment for all age groups – a great day out in the countryside”. Skelton Show is the largest village in the North of England, held annually on the first Saturday in July; 2019 is the 125th show and we pride ourselves on having a very agricultural bias! With an attendance of over 10,000, exhibitors compete for over £13,500 in prize money and 130 trophies, in Cattle, Sheep, Dogs and Horse classes. A large marquee contains horticultural and industrial exhibits whilst outside a vintage vehicle display, trade stands, gift and craft tent, large food hall, a pet show and a wide variety of entertainment, catering and bar facilities all add to the enjoyment of the day.

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A meeting with …

Alan Walton

Familiar faces at the Skelton Show is how I would describe Alan and the Walton family and the members of their team that are there on the trade stand. Even in the short time that I’ve been involved with the Show, attending with Eden FM, there are names your see, that are local community brands that have turned out since they began as supporters, exhibitors or sponsors. The Show wouldn’t exist otherwise. As we go through this brief look at the experience of people involved in the Show, something we’ll see is pictures of a lot of people who have been a part of one of the largest community gatherings locally spanning almost 14 decades. Those that if

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you stood still for a moment in Penrith, you would see and at the Show you would notice if they weren’t there. One of the first stories I was asked to write for a local family business was Jim Waltons, and when you see the picture of the cars they had on the stand, then this gives you an idea of how this family evolved, which I discovered when I wrote the story about their business titled ‘From Cattle to Cars’, quite a change as a family business, which has been at the show for over 40 years. Congratulation to Alan Walton, the Skelton Show President. This Picture was taken at last year’s show as President elect. When I asked Alan what was one of his favourite memories of the show he said the George Bowman Rodeo, which as Alan explained meant a trip to the USA for some serious training for the Bowman family.

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125th show - recollections from John Slee

Skelton Show has always played a big part in the life of the Slee family. My late parents Ernie and Muriel meet at the show, their first real date being at the show night dance in the Toppin Memorial Hall in 1956. Whilst father was an insurance agent brought up by his grandparents at Brackenbrough, mother lived on the Mounsey family farm at Unthank. One of the successes of the show, is the large number of local families who continue to give freely of their time. In many cases this continues, with roles being passed down through the generations, as well as new younger volunteers becoming involved to help secure our future. This enthusiasm across the generations is most rewarding. My early memories of the show growing up in the 1960’s, was the move from a field just south of the village to a larger site at Unthank. I also remember making signs using spray paint and some old stencils father had acquired from the AA. As I trained to be a civil engineer, I somehow got involved in the setting out the field, a role that has continued to this day – all with the aid of trusted measuring wheels and optical squares!. I distinctly remember the night when Dad came back from an AGM to say that Mum was to become the secretary and treasurer, a post she held for 31 years. During that time, and supported by a great committee, they were the driving force behind developing the show from a small village event to the large regional event it is today. Latterly before his death in 2006, Dad became Show Director a role I was honoured to be elected to in 2009. Following a wet show in 1979 when the field at Unthank ended up as a mud bath, in 1980 the show moved to the current picturesque site at Hutton-in-the-Forest. With the encouragement of Lord Inglewood, over the years the site has been improved through the installation of hardcore roads and new bridges to cater for an ever-growing event. Whilst the promotion of agriculture and horticulture will always be at the heart of the show, over the years it has been necessary to diversify to maintain interest and ensure that 10 - The Skelton 125th Show

we provide ‘a great day out in the countryside for all the family’. In the 1960’s Major Riley, the late father of the current secretary Antonia, developed the Handy Hunter competition which tests a horse and riders’ ability to cope with everyday situations such as noise, passing through narrow gates or roadworks as well as more natural obstacles. Another diversification in 1962, was the introduction of the Lakeland Country Princess Competition which ran for over 30 years and was a great crowd puller at 5.15pm in the Main Ring. We have had various attractions over the years from George Bowman’s rodeo and shovel riding in the 1960’s to the guns of the Royal Artillery, fly pasts, numerous motorcycle and horse themed displays as well as dogs and falconry. All designed to add interest and entertainment. Last year when England’s World Cup run threatened to reduce attendance, our bar provider Edwards responded by arranging a big screen. This year we have the Fell Pony Society pageant and musical ride and the Ullswater Community College Wolves our local award winning cheer leaders. As farming changes, cattle entries have declined whilst sheep and horse entries have increased. Our ‘Big Top’ industrial marquee, the largest at any show in Cumbria, continues to be a highlight of the show. The parade of vintage vehicles remains one of my favourites, with Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling ever popular whilst the Poultry tent continues to attract large entries. Latterly through the enthusiasm of our Vice Chairman Colin Atkinson and his wife Sue, we have seen a large expansion in the Food Hall and Gift and Craft tents. This year including a wide variety of trade stands, we have over 200 trade exhibitors offering a wide variety of goods from large tractors, new cars to local beer and a pot of jam. Whilst legislation and paperwork have increased over the years, it continues to be a privilege to be part of such a vibrant organisation and the satisfaction of seeing large crowds enjoying themselves on showday makes all the hard work worthwhile.


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The Green Veterinary Surgery We are pleased to continue supporting Skelton Show and the Farming Community. The sponsor of the 125th Skelton Show commerorative brochure. 12 - The Skelton 125th Show

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PROGRAMME OF EVENTS 2019 8.30a.m.

TRADE STAND CAR PARK

Judging of cattle, sheep, horses and vintage

12.00p.m. Skelton Companion Dog Show 12.45p.m. Marquee open to public

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HANDY S ER HUNTERS T G N HU RIN ING TING K SPORTS HORSES R C WO OLLE C SHOW & DRIVING PONIES 14 HUNTERS & VETERANS MOUNTAIN & MOORLAND

COBS RIDING HORSE

EQUITATION

EX RACEHORSES

ED PONIES

FIELD LAYOUT KEY X

Secretary Information & Presidents Tent 2 First Aid/Doctor 3 Police Control 4 taste@skelton Food Festival 5 Gifts & Crafts 6 Catering Tent 7 Bar 8 Take Away Food 9 Fur & Feathers 10 C&W Wrestling 11 Penrith Town Band 12 Chainsaw Carvings 13 Equestrian Secretary 14 Disabled Toilet & Baby Changing Livestock Secretary 15 A - H Trade Stand Avenues RN Ring Number Hardcore Access Road

Supporting The 125th Skelton Show

12.45p.m. Scurry Racing 1.50p.m.

Ullswater Community College Cheer Leaders

2.00p.m.

Child With Pet in Main Ring

2.20p.m.

History of Fell Pony Society Display

2.45p.m.

Grand Parade

3.15p.m.

Parade of Cumberland Farmers Foxhounds

3.30p.m.

Parade of Vintage Vehicles

3.55p.m.

Ullswater Community College Cheer Leaders

4.00p.m

Fell Pony Society Musical Ride

4.20p.m.

Terrier Racing

4.35p.m.

Pony Sports

6.45p.m.

Compline in Hutton Church

Throughout the day from 11am: Magician, Chainsaw Carvings Dog Show, Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling and Music by Penrith Town Band.

Kitchen Demonstrations @TasteSkelton food festival

in the Cranton’s Quality Butchers Kitchen. 11am

Mr James Whitesmith Head Chef at the popular Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck

12 pm

Mr Ben Queen-Fryer Head Chef at the newly reopened Dog & Gun Country Inn at Skelton

1pm:

Mr Ben Clementson Head Brewer at the Brack’N’Brew Micro Brewery, Watermillock Nr Penrith

2pm

Mr Chris Taylor Development Chef at the Two Sisters Company

3pm

Mr Ricardo Rodriguez Mexican Food Master Class

The Skelton 125th Show - 13


An interview with Stan Mounsey

It was my first trip to Skelton in a couple of months and on this occasion, I was doing my first interview of eight. I was meeting Stan and Audrey, who had experienced a lifetime of the Skelton Show together for 55 years. Stan recalled some of those times and on asking him when he first attended the Show, he put the date in as 1935 in his pram! He and his sister Muriel, who many of you know is John Slee’s mum, grew up on the family farm at Unthank. There was a lot to share on his experiences and his life as a farm manager. He managed John Farrer of Blencow Limeworks farm for 33 years. The Show was always there in the background. Stan was the Sheep Head Steward, following in his father’s footsteps, Noble Mounsey. Stan was on the committee for 30 years. In the photos Stan shared above, we have a picture of Stan’s two children, Sheila and Maurice with mum and dad. It was taken in 1963 and as Stan described it, in changing times, new breeds were entering the show. They were 14 - The Skelton 125th Show

one of just two that had the Jacobs at the show for the first time. Before we got talking about the second photo of the Prize Dairy Heifer, we talked about the farming season and how machinery had changed farming. Many of the vintage tractors at the Show are a good representation of some of the machinery he had used. In the field today are many of the tractors that Stan would have worked with and the most modern agricultural machinery the industry has today. We talked about Hay Time, and on the Farm they had 3 to 4 hired lads. The recruitment of the hired lads was simple. The Farmer would go into Penrith at Whitsun time, Whitsun being the seventh Sunday after Easter, and at the Musgrave Clock, the lads available for hire would wait for farmers to come and hire them for 6 months. The other photo we talked about was from 1965 when Stan won the Top Dairy Heifer within a five mile radius of the Skelton Show. But what I will leave you with is something Audrey described as one of her duties which


was the raffle. It made me think the simplest of things are just so simple, so why do we change them? We’ve all bought raffle tickets. Blue, white, red, green; whatever colour we have, a ticket or a strip, we then have to write our details on the back of the ticket so this goes in the hat, the box or tombola drum, which would be turned around, then opened. The first announced would be the colour of the ticket. This is the bit when half of the audience switches off! Well for Audrey, things were much simpler then. Entering the draw was putting your name and details on a piece of paper. You didn’t have a number; you didn’t walk away with the ticket; your details went into the draw and at the end of the show, the first drawn was simply announced. Why did we change this? It’s so simple.

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A meeting with …

David Crowden

I met David for the first time at his office in the Penrith & District Farmers’ Mart LLP. David’s involvement covered many years. He was last year’s show president, however, our conversation was quite different. It was about the people and the families that had influenced the shows which was a generational thing, but David’s conversation wasn’t so much about the past but very much about the current and the future. There are key families that for generations have been pivotal in a number of areas. David mentioned the various locations 16 - The Skelton 125th Show

around Skelton where the show had been held, but the move to Hutton in the Forest took the Show to a new level, but to sustain and still grow, it would need to look outside of what it had focused on and not focus just on farming. Its backbone was in agriculture and this tradition had to remain, but there were less farmers and the farms were getting bigger. But in the village and the areas around stretching across the district, there were a growing number of people living and moving into the region not of an agricultural background. The Skelton


committee had to innovate the existing agricultural areas but also bring new ideas to have a greater pull on a wider range of visitors. Vintage tractors and vintage vehicles have been a growing exhibit for the enthusiast, but as we see as it has developed, the demographic has widened. David made the point that the driving factors of the changes could only have been achieved by embracing new ideas from those moving in to the community, who wanted to be a part of the community, and make a contribution to helping where they could with the skills they have in taking the Show forward. What we see now is what has been evolving over the last 20 years, and with those important links with the community, they keep evolving.

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A meeting with ‌

Nancy Hullock During a 45-minute phone call, Nancy recalled many happy memories of 25 years being based in the main tent, exhibiting crafts and local produce, horticultural splendours for the show. I asked Nancy in the early stage of our conversation what she had enjoyed most over her 25 years at the show and her answer almost knocked me off my chair. At the time Nancy was at the show, she was only generally in two places; either in the tent or having a break for lunch. It made me think just how important her role was, but also how proud Nancy was of her responsibility. From the time the Exhibits where put on display, Nancy was in the tent. The judges would come in and Nancy was pres-

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ent throughout. No-one was allowed in, and after judging, they would take their lunch and the tent was closed. When it re-opened, Nancy would be there. The competition was then and still is of a very high standard regardless of what exhibit it is. She described that to judge exhibits, you had to have a knowledge of what you were judging. To look at a piece of needlework, you have to understand everything about it; not just the skill, but how many hours it would have taken to complete it and the craft that it is. We discussed knitting and how a judge would turn the exhibit inside out, because whilst the outside might look amazing, the inside had to be equally as good.


Nancy did have some great stories. We were talking about the flower arranging. This usually has a theme. I think last year was the World Cup and there were some amazing displays using footballs and football boots with plant arrangements in them and around them. The year Nancy recalled was when the theme was green foliage; it had to be green, ‘no flowers’, no colours. It was a hot day but also quite humid in the tent with the water evaporating. Well, the judging was finished, 1st Prize was awarded, then everyone went to lunch. When they came back, the 1st Prize had transformed into a beautiful array of bright colours. The heat had accelerated the growth, buds had come through and they had burst into colour. Well, as Nancy described there was an uproar, complaints rolling in from everywhere. It was an outrage, so was the exhibit disqualified?

No! As Nancy explained, at the time of the judging it was green, so the decision stood. At about 5.15 at the end of the day there was one event Nancy did see which she recalled as one of her Favourites the Lakeland Country Princess Completion as seen here. It was stories like this that meant we could have talked for hours. On another occasion on a different show in the early seventies it was a very dry summer. All the exhibits were laid out for judging, but in between judging and the tent re-opening, all the exhibits were covered in dust. Nancy’s husband Jim was also involved in the Show, and for a number of years, so was her son. He used to add up all the points for Nancy. Importantly, Nancy will be at the Show today as a life member. As we closed, I made the comment that it must be nice to be out of that tent!

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A meeting with …

Colin Atkinson We talked about innovation and diversification for Vice Chairman Colin Atkinson and his wife. The Food Hall Gifts and craft tents have been a huge growth area in recent years. Going back 20 years Colin described the Vintage tractors and vehicles starting, at that time they had ½ a dozen food stands Farm to Folk. This year Colin estimated there would be over 60 Vintage tractors and the food hall with the support of Cranstons as its main sponsor, will be a key feature of the show with the food demonstrations by top chefs. For Sue the Craft and Gifts has also risen in numbers, but Colin also made the point on other areas that had declined. The Cattle classes had never

20 - The Skelton 125th Show

really recovered since foot and mouth and with so many restrictions in the movement of cattle and reduced labour on farms, the logistics and expense of exhibiting have taken their toll. For those not familiar with cattle logistics at the show the cattle have passports and cannot come in without one. One big area of growth has been horses with up to 700 entries in recent years. The show has learned how to adapt to trends like the food and drink industry but entertainment also plays a part in attracting more visitors this year’s attractions cover a wide interest and demographic and that’s how it needs to continue.


A meeting with …

Antonia Reid I finally caught up with Antonia in the week leading up to the Show. Antonia’s father was the late Major Tim Riley, who John Slee mentioned in his recollection of the Skelton Show as he created the ‘Handy Hunter’ classes. As Antonia described it, this was a type of obstacle course for rider and horse around a course that covered 10 disciplines, going under, over and through obstacles. Horses and ponies have been a significant part of Antonia’s life. She recalled actually riding her pony from Blencow to the Show when she was very young.

programme of advancement with early bird ticket sales and bookings for trade and competitors becoming available online. This will reduce the burden on the various secretaries whilst making it easier for exhibitors. In an increasingly competitive market place, Nina Oxley and Colin Atkinson work hard on promoting the show particularly through social media where we now have over 4000 followers. Whilst for most at the end of Sunday when everything is taken down and packed away for another year, that it’s the final task completed. For Antonia her final task with over 600 classes in the show as the General show Secretary is to write all the results up and send them out to press.

Antonia joined the committee in 2001. As the General show Secretary, I probably couldn’t have picked a busier time, but as Antonia went on to describe her role, as a key member of the committee, she had been involved in the transitions and changes needed for them as an organisation. Based on the size of the show, as the General Show Secretary, the job had become too big for one person like other areas of the Show. Each area of the Show now has its own team and moving forward there are always people ready to help out. The committee are now embracing new technology and have recently relaunched their website and with the help of Flame Concepts in Cockermouth, are on a

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To Close

And finally, my experience shared. Whilst I can’t come close in years to those previously in this short summary celebrating the 125th Skelton show, as a family we’ve got to know the village of Skelton really quite well over the last 10 years. In 2010 I launched the Eden Local magazine for a number of reasons. Primarily, it was to support the setup to launch a campaign for Penrith and the surrounding areas to have its own Community radio. During its trial transmission in November 2011, its first outside broadcast was at the Toppin Memorial Hall. In its second trial transmission, it was at its first Skelton Show in July 2012 and Eden Local started work in promoting the show through doors across the Eden Valley. As a family, we know the village of Skelton quite well. In setting up the Eden Local magazine door to door deliveries, it has meant that prior to recruiting a team for Skelton, as a family we covered this door to door route ourselves and cover the route during holidays. The Eden Local started with 6,000 doors in and around parts of Penrith and in some neighbouring villages. Today it covers at least 42 villages and every address accessible in Penrith, whilst also distributing magazines from collection points in Carlisle and Appleby, and now heading to Kirby Stephen and Shap. My real experience of Skelton and the Show has been in meeting the people involved in the Show as well as handing them their Eden Local. I have met quite a few at the Show and of course in doing interviews for Eden FM and Eden Local, which is something my teams and I will be looking forward to in the future. Lee Quinn, Director - Cumbrian Local Publications & Eden FM Community Radio 22 - The Skelton 125th Show


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Kathy, Pam and Stevie Dee live from the show today!

Be Seen and Heard in the Community You Serve Eden FM 107.5 FM and your Eden Local Community Magazine Call 01768 862394 email lee@cumbrianlocal.co.uk

Stevie Dee making the connection live