This page, covering the history of Swanland Show from its beginnings to the current day, remains under development and will be updated as and when more information becomes available.
If anyone has any photos from the early days, or wishes to offer any information which might enhance this particular page then please contact Paul Neve – Show Chairman.
The original Swanland Show was staged in ‘Show Field’ which formed part of the (originally) 400 acre Westfield Farm situated between Mill Hill and Dale Road and latterly owned by George Westerdale who was also Swanland Parish Council Chairman for many years (one of the vegetable trophies bears his name).
George’s father, Percy Westerdale, took over the farm in 1936 although Parish records suggest that the farm dates back to at least 1881 when it was apparently owned by a Chris Ringrose. After George Westerdale died, the farmhouse was converted by his niece to the present day Swanland Equestrian Centre in 1992 and some of the farmland was sold off to create housing on what is now Westerdale, Sykes Close and The Green.
Swanland Show originated just after World War II and was a large affair (similar in many respects to today’s Driffield and Howden Show formats) incorporating classes for agriculture, produce and handicrafts held in marquee tents surrounding a central area where show jumping took place. According to an article written by a local resident in the Swanland Parish Magazine dated April 2018, the first two Shows, 1945 and 1946, were held in a field to the east of Dale Road (where 32 to 42 Dale Road are currently situated) before moving to the ‘Show Field’ site thereafter.
Click on the links below and read a piece of local social history from more than 60 years ago. The advertisers’ and sponsors’ names conjure up wonderful memories of days gone by and these names will be familiar to many. Note that the staging of wildflowers and grasses was allowed back then with no concerns expressed towards nature conservation issues. The winner of one of the dog classes was decided by the level of audience applause! Note also the comments on the Cottagers’ Classes and the use of paid labourers and servants! Due to file size limitations, I have had to split the 1956 Show Schedule into two parts.
Note that these files are in pdf file format which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software to access. If you do not already have this program installed on your computer then you can download it free from here.DNote that these files are in pdf file format which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software to access. If you do not already have this program installed on your computer then you can download it free from here.ueDue to file size limitations, I have had to split the 1956 Show Schedule into two parts. to file size limitations, I have had to split the 1956 Show Schedule into two parts.
In the early 1950s, three consecutive Shows were hit by bad weather and the Show was wound up in 1959 and the trophies returned to their original donors. Show Field then reverted back to cropped farmland although the same field was used by the local football team in the 1980s until the official Swanland playing fields site opened.
In 1979, Tony Featherstone with the help of a small committee revived the Show on a much smaller scale featuring some 50 classes covering wine, produce, handicrafts, floral art, vegetables, flowers and children’s work. At the first committee meeting it was decided that the ‘new’ Show would be held on the second Saturday of each September and would be aimed at local people with certificates and trophies awarded but no prize money given.
The first Show was so successful that additional classes were subsequently added, including the photography section. The early Shows were held in the James Reckitt Memorial Hall but, with the growth in popularity and entries, more space became necessary and, in the early 1990s, the venue changed to Swanland Primary School. The school hall itself was not large enough to hold all the entries and many of the classrooms were co-opted to create additional space although navigation for visitors was far from ideal. When St Barnabas Church was built, the hall was sufficiently large to accommodate our needs and we have used this venue ever since for our annual Show.
The year 2000 marked the 20th anniversary of the modern Show and a special presentation ceremony was held for those who were instrumental in getting the Show “off the ground” in 1980 and keeping it going during the early years thereafter.
Some of the original trophies from the early agricultural show days have since been donated back to us again and make interesting reading. Although most of the Classes are open to any exhibitor there is a dedicated Residents’ Section for people who reside within the Parish boundaries. We offer a token amount of prize money which is designed to attract Show entries rather than to create millionaires. We pride ourselves on being a small Village Show with a focus on showcasing local talent, creating friendly competition and fostering community spirit.
Further information on the history of Swanland can be found on the Swanland Heritage Centre website.