Northumberland County Show looks back on 50 years at at Tynedale Park, Corbridge

PUBLISHED: 17:39 31 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:27 20 February 2013

The Household Cavalry Musical Ride, accompanied by the Regimental band drums of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

The Household Cavalry Musical Ride, accompanied by the Regimental band drums of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

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

RARE historical footage of Northumberlands 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 years 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.

And the man responsible for the gruelling editing process which has seen the footage condensed into two discs of historic highlights says the process has given him a huge sense of satisfaction.

Agricultural photographer for the show, Robert Smith, said: Being involved in this has been a huge eye opener for me.

Its helped me appreciate the history of not only the show, but the social history of the whole area, because the footage really encapsulates farming heritage.

Putting it all together has been a huge task for everyone involved, because sadly when the old cine film footage was transferred to DVD, the sound was lost.

Show secretary Gaynor Shotton, who provides the voice over for the finished product, has trawled through the societys records and archives at local newspapers, as well as putting out an appeal to members of the public, so that words could be put to the fascinating imagery.

Mr Smith from Barrasford, who runs his own video and photography business said: It is so lucky that the show committees of the past did film the events and capture for us what is now a little bit of history.

I can only hope that one day, perhaps in the next 100 years, someone will look back and appreciate my work in the same way.

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 Womens 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 shows 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 1960s 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 shows 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 president, John Woodman, said: Recording highlights on show day has become a bit of a tradition over the years.

The fact that members of the show committee saw fit to begin capturing moments of the event as far back as the early 1950s is a testament not only to their forward-thinking, but to the quality livestock and attractions which have been welcomed to the Corbridge showground.

And that quality can be seen continuing to shine through on the DVD chronicling memorable moments from the shows between 1994 and 2011.

Displays from Royal Marine Commandos, motorcycle stunt squads and dog agility teams have all been watched from the grandstands while parachute jumps and the RAFs tribute to the aviators of World War Two, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, has also wowed the crowds.

Meanwhile, the rise in popularity of some continental and native breeds have seen the cattle classes adapting and going from strength to strength while the Poultry Club of Great Britain gave the events poultry section prestigious regional status in 2011 due to the consistent high standards and big entry numbers.

The moment Hexham farmer Alan Forster of Lowes Fell won the Champion of Champions accolade two years running, in 2009 and 2010 will also go down in history on film.

In a first for the show, Mr Forsters Bluefaced Leicester tup was the first sheep to scoop the title in decades at the 2009 show and managed, in the face of stiff competition, to retain it in 2010.

Show chairman for the last three years, Hexham farmer David Carr, said: The DVDs are a fitting tribute to mark the end of an era in the history of the show the last event at Corbridge.

Taking viewers back in time more than half a century, the set will help visitors and exhibitors alike to reflect on how times have changed, and the exciting developments ahead in the coming years at the new site in Bywell.

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 cant 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.

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