Film ID: YFA 1972 Video of YFA_1972 Great Yorkshire Show 1957 GREAT YORKSHIRE SHOW 1957 1957 Visitor TabsDescription The Great Yorkshire Show is the North’s leading agricultural event which takes place annually in July at the Harrogate Showground. Made by Nancliff Films, this film documents the 100th Great Yorkshire Show, featuring the entire event from the preparations to the final cleaning of the grounds. It includes scenes of many of the exhibitions and events including a special visit by Queen Elizabeth. Title and credits – Nancliff Films Presents Great Yorkshire Show Harrogate 9th, 10th & 11th July 1957 Produced by C C B Guest The film begins with an empty stadium set out for horse jumping. The showground is being prepared: marquees are set up, fences fixed, flowers watered, tractors put on display, and lorries arrive bringing sheep, cattle, and pigs. Baby goats in a pen are being fed from milk bottles, and animals are washed. There is a parade of police on horseback, cars arrive via Wetherby road and park, and people approach one of the entrances. The Mayor’s Parlour is bedecked in flowers. There are various company stands such as Chambers and Fargus, and there are also signs on litter. Many people walk around the stables, and there are more crowded avenues with company buildings. Men trim and saw logs next to a woodland exhibition. Additionally, there is a parade of pigs and a competition of different breeds of bulls. Bustling crowds make their way through the sheds where the dairy cows are kept, and there is a demonstration of milking machines. Following a brief shot of the dining room, there is extensive footage of the Flower Show including close-ups of some of the exhibits as well as an inter-flora flower sculpture. Some of those who have turned out at the event walk around carrying plants and flowers which they’ve purchased. There is also an outdoor café where tea is served. Two naval ratings raise the royal standard as the Queen arrives. There is then a parade of cart horses and foals, followed by horse and traps. A foxhound competition is judged, and after which, there is a competition of various sheep breeds. The film then shows some of the many company stands and demonstrations including artillery pieces, a large model train and agricultural equipment. Following a brief shot of the John Smith's beer tent, there is another foxhound competition featuring a different breed of fox from the previous competition. Queen Elizabeth arrives at the main stadium to watch a bull competition. There is a long parade of bulls, cows and horses before the Queen and Prince Philip walk into the arena to meet the Canadian Mounted Police. They continue to talk and walk around the perimeter where the crowds rush to see the Royal couple. The Canadian Mounted Police give a demonstration of synchronised riding which is followed by an artillery display and fire salute with cannons. The Mounties come back briefly before hunters ride around on horse back accompanied by their hounds. Finally, there is a horse jumping competition, and the Queen presents a cup to the winners. The film ends with the grounds empty, and a clean up operation is underway to clear up all the litter. The stands are dismantled, and the gates are closed signalling the end of this year’s show. The End Context This is a film of the 100th Great Yorkshire Show made by Dr and Mrs Guest of Sheffield, adopting the name of ‘Nancliff’. This is the only one of their films that the YFA has or knows of, but judging by the quality of this film they probably made many more. The YFA has quite an extensive collection of film of the Great Yorkshire Show, from the 1930s up to 1981, including from the previous year to this, and of the centenary of the show in 1937 in York, when the Princess Royal, Princess Mary, was the President of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society – as she was in 1957. The queen attended again in 2008 to mark its 150th anniversary. Although this was the 100th Great Yorkshire Show, in fact the first one was in Fulford, York, in 1838, the year after the Yorkshire Agricultural Society was established – they were cancelled for the duration of both World Wars. Not unusually for the time, in 1838 the police used truncheons on those trying to get in without paying. The Yorkshire Agricultural Society was founded in October 1837 by a group of leading agriculturalists, led by the third Earl Spencer, meeting at the Black Swan Hotel in Coney Street, York. Looking to sustain and improve farming they set up the Society and agreed to hold an annual show of excellence. This predates the Royal Agricultural Society which was established in 1840. The first attendance figures of the Yorkshire Show are for 1842, again held in York, when 6,044 attended. It became known as the ‘Great Yorkshire Show’ in 1843. The show was held in different places, in some 30 towns, throughout Yorkshire before it settled in Harrogate in 1951, where a permanent showground was specially built in 1950. The site at Harrogate was chosen over ones at York, Beverley and Hull, and purchased at a cost of £16,500. It has stayed there ever since, becoming one of the foremost shows of its kind. Although the marketing of agricultural machinery is an important aspect of the show – and the YFA has other film on, for example, Brooks Motors and David Brown – animals take centre stage in most of the film. By bringing together in one place important aspects of the relation between humans and other animal species, the Yorkshire Show throws a light on many issues, especially for those who have not been brought up on farms or in the countryside. The two main areas of interaction that the film demonstrates are in farming and sport: the parading of animals, such as bulls; and animal competitions, such as dogs used in hunting. Both of these have a long history, and hence tend to be taken for granted. Animals and their products have of course been an essential part of human societies from before written history, and they retain a fundamental place, especially in the provision of food. Given this, and the need to buy and sell animals at markets, it is hardly surprising that competitions between animals that are farmed are central to agricultural shows of this kind. In fact many, if not all, of the animals on display are the result of human intervention through cross-breeding, such as the foxhounds. For most of human history this interaction has not been considered a subject for ethical debate, but as with many other issues, attitudes have changed considerably in more recent years. The relation between humans and non-humans is extremely varied and complex, and since the publication of Peter Singer’s, in many ways groundbreaking, book Animal Rights, in 1975, the debate on the ethical and practical relations between humans and animals has mushroomed hugely. There are strongly held views on all of the many sides of this debate. But there is a consensus that animals should be treated according to some standards of animal welfare, even if there are sharp differences as to what this should entail. Although at the time this film was made there would have been few organic farms, this concept was already beginning to take root. The term organic farming was coined as early as 1939, by Lord Northbourne, in his book, Look to the Land, published 1940; and the Soil Association was formed in 1946. Those who advocate organic dairy production, for example, criticise the treatment of another cross-breed seen in the film, the Holstein-Friesian. Compassion in World Farming claims that in the UK these now yield around 22 litres per day – an increase of 30% on ten years ago – whereas they would normally just produce enough to feed their calves, about 4 litres a day. However, the Scottish Agricultural College claims that a recent study they have undertaken does not show much difference between organic and non-organic production in relation to the health and welfare of the dairy cows examined. Although the RSPCA was founded as long ago as 1824, it is only in the period following the Second World War that views which were initially regarded as being extreme in relation to the treatment of animals have become more mainstream. Thus it was in 1954 with the Protection of Birds Act that collecting eggs became prohibited. The RSPCA, which campaigns against the use of animals in circuses, highlights the change in attitudes in this area: ‘Surveys commissioned by the RSPCA and Animal Defenders International over the past decade have consistently shown that the public supports an end to the use of animals travelling and performing with circuses.’ There is a view that the use of animals by humans for any purpose, except perhaps where absolutely necessary, is unjustified. Who knows whether this might become the dominant view in the future (Hilda Kean chronicles these changes in attitudes, see References). How these debates might impact on the future of the Great Yorkshire Show is anybody’s guess. Whilst retaining most of the events seen in 1957, the show has since branched out to include a fashion show, climbing and furniture making. The attendence in 1857 was 118,000, which isn’t far short of the all time attendence record of 135, 111 in 2006. More recently another all time record was broken in 2009 when there were over 12,000 entries in all competitions. The show is clearly very popular, with about a half of those attending living in urban areas with no connection to agriculture. It is now the UK's premier countryside event after the Royal Show had its last outing in 2009, following heavy losses. References The YFA has Dr Guest’s copy of the catalogue for the jumping competitions at the 1957 Show (price 6d, pence, old money). Vance Hall, A History of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society 1837-1987 in Celebration of the 150Th Anniversary of the Society, Batsford, 1987. Marian Dawkins and Roland Bonney (eds), The Future of Animal Farming: Renewing the Ancient Contract, Wiley Blackwell, 2008. Hilda Kean, Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800, Reaktion Books, London, 1998. Lord Northbourne, Look to the Land, 2nd edition, Sophia Perennis/TRSP Publications, 2003 (1940) Yorkshire Agricultural Society Great Yorkshire Show Compassion in World Farming Scottish Agricultural College 2007 Report, The welfare of dairy cows in organic milk production systems Further Information Linda Kalof, Looking at Animals in Human History Linda Kalof and Brigitte Resl (editors), A cultural history of animals, 6 Vols., Berg, Oxford, 2007.