History of the Show

On the 16th September 1809 the following announcement appeared in the Lancaster Gazette:

"In consequence of a request made to me, as Chairman of the Association assembled at Garstang for the Protection of Property, on Tuesday the 7th September inst, to convene a meeting for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety and utility of forming an Agricultural Society, as useful and beneficial to the neighbourhood, - I hereby accordingly desire a meeting of the gentlemen who think themselves interested therein at the Royal Oak in Garstang on Thursday the 28th day of September inst at one o'clock in the afternoon."

Alex Butler
Kirkland Hall, September 9th, 1809

Thus was born the Society,and later followed the show.

On August 1st we are celebrating 200 years of the show and are on the look out for artefacts and memorabilia to be part of an exhibition on the Show Field.

Garstang Agricultural Society was formed in 1809 with the aim of being “useful and beneficial to the neighbourhood,” and held its first exhibition in 1813. There were 13 prizes, “premiums,” for crops and stock, and 12 sweepstake prizes for stock. 

When Mr George Singleton of Kirkland Hall was sorting out his papers for a move to Blackpool in 1905, he found there a list of “Premiums offered by the Farming Society held at Garstang for the year 1816,” and contacted the Preston Guardian about his find. The prize for the best longhorn bull caused the reporter writing up the story to claim that Lancashire longhorns in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries “were the prevailing stock in almost every part of the country,” and though the beasts were originally from Craven, they were bred mostly in the Fylde and had long attracted buyers from all over the country. The writer next refers to Mr Wilby of Linton in Leicestershire being the first to attempt to improve longhorns in 1720, followed by Mr Webster of Canty near Coventry, and he then sold two heifers to Mr Bakewell of Dishley, Leicestershire. These, plus a Westmorland long-horned bull were “the foundation of Mr Bakewell’s famous herd.” Therefore, some of Mr Bakewell’s stock improvements, foundation of the so-called ‘agricultural revolution,’ were based on animals from the Fylde.

Garstang farmers can claim credit for other initiatives: members of the Garstang Milksellers’ Association, which had been in existence “for several years” met at the Green Man Inn, Myerscough in November 1898 to discuss extending the Association and making it rather more active. The regular attenders were James Pearson of St Michael’s Hall, Thomas Smith of Sandham Mill, Joseph Whittaker of Matshead Farm, Claughton, Thomas Brewer of Barnacre, Thomas Banks of Bilsborrow, and Thomas Ibison and Richard Ibison of Fogg Farm. They decided to call themselves the “Garstang and District Dairy Farmers’ Association.” Mr Whittaker was particularly keen to use such a Society to buy agricultural foodstuffs at a cheaper price and of a guaranteed standard of purity, though specifics would be decided later and the general idea was that “the object of the association was to protect the interests of the members generally. It was unanimously agreed to ask Mr Fitzherbert-Brockholes of Claughton Hall to be President.

Humble beginnings, but out of these meetings grew the Lancashire Farmers’ Association, which amalgamated with the NFU to become that body’s Lancashire Branch in 1921, and the Preston and District Farmers’ Trading Society (Preston Farmers), which served local farmers for most of the twentieth century.

So the years since the formation of a Garstang Agricultural Society have seen a lot to celebrate, and it is hoped to mount an exhibition worthy of those achievements. If anyone has any artefacts or memorabilia of the shows, or associated events such as the “Country Princess” competition, then please contact the Secretary. They will be scanned or photographed and returned as soon as possible, and shared with visitors to the Show on 1st August.

Thanks to John Grimbaldeston for providing the account of the show's history.