Tradition on show at Langdon Beck in Teesdale
PUBLISHED: 08:35 30 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:46 20 February 2013
A lot of the region's agricultural shows have grown substantially over the years. Here's one that's still small and beautifully formed
These days most agricultural shows are full of people trying to sell you anything from farming machinery to dog baskets.
For one very traditional show held at the very top end of Teesdale in County Durham every September though, it is very different. At Langdon Beck it is all about the sheep, beer, chat and for entertainment theres no piped music, but the ever-popular Middleton and Teesdale Silver Band.
Some years there was a bouncy castle for the children, but that is about as modern as it gets.
Held in a field next to the Langdon Beck Hotel, this feels like a show that has always been here, since the days when the fastest thing on these roads were horses, not motorbikes.
But that is only half the story. There are photographs of the show taking place in the early years of the twentieth century, and records of it go back for certain to 1896, but the show died out around the time of the First World War. In 2000 two local farmers, the late Brian Bainbridge, and Neville Bainbridge (no relation) decided it was worth reviving.
We were in the pub one night, at Langdon Beck, wed been to Eastgate Show, and I said to him or he said to me, we should have a local show. Neville, now the chairman of the show, explains. So we decided on having a show in the back-end (autumn) like Eastgate have in the spring.
It hasnt always been plain sailing. The show for 2001, the first year after the revival had to be cancelled because of the disastrous Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak which hit the northern hills, the same thing happened again in 2007 following a smaller outbreak of the disease in the South of England, this time the show was called off a few days before it was due to take place because of disease restrictions.
The sheep at Langdon Beck Show are almost exclusively the Swaledale breed which dominates these hills, and farmers come from across the uplands of County Durham, Yorkshire and Cumbria to show their animals, which are mostly breeding ewes.
Apart from the shape of their bodies and the state of their teeth, they are also judged on the colour of the markings around their faces and on their legs according to chairman Neville Bainbridge.
Organisers are expecting scores of exhibitors this year, as well as a few hundred local people to come and look at the sheep and catch up with old friends and Dales folk.
This show is as much about staying in touch with other people in this sparsely populated community, as it is about winning trophies for your sheep.
The annual Langdon Beck Show takes place on Saturday September 25, with judging starting at 11am.