Show of support for agriculture in Clydesdale
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These began to assume great importance in the 19th century, particularly with advent of the railway.
The poster for the Biggar Fair of November 1861 shows the popularity of such events. The picture of the cattle show of 1900 again in Biggar illustrates the continued interest of the farming community.
Even quite small venues were chosen for agricultural shows, such as Carmichael Mill near Hyndford Bridge which was the venue for cattle shows for many years.
At all shows medals were presented for many different types of animal. These were large silver medals and were beautifully designed by the medallists of the day often having a picture on one side of the medal of the animal and, on the other, an inscription of the winner and the farm they represented.
The shows were an important place for showing off equipment and tackle. One of the most important companies for selling tackle was the firm of Prentice from Carluke.
Well known throughout Scotland and beyond, it was one of the first companies to use postcards to advertise their presence at a show.
I have in my collection a card sent to Clydesdale Farmers alerting them to the Prentices having a stall at a show in Peebles in 1905.
Shows were also a good place for doing deals regarding stallions serving mares. They were advertised by using cards which described in detail the ancestry of the stallion, the cost of the service and when it could be provided.
Farmers also visited the Royal Highland Show which, despite its title, actually first took place in Edinburgh in 1822.
In the early days this show travelled around the country, including the Borders – the main venue there being Peebles. Records of exhibitors were kept in the proceedings of the Royal Agricultural Society. Many farmers subscribed to this series as it was a vital source of information to them.
The attendance of Clydesdale Farmers at these shows was often recorded by the photographer Archibald Brown and company of Lanark, which was one of the company’s specialities.
A good source of information about Agricultural Shows is the farmers’ year book. These were first issued in 1900 and contain not only adverts for farming equipment but also photos and reports on shows.
So far I have worked my way through the first 30 years of these books and have extracted much valuable information out of them – especially on the subject of sheep farming.
Agricultural shows still play an important part in the community of Clydesdale. The Biggar Show, which is over 150 years old, is still an important venue for farmers to exhibit their animals.
It is a great source of pride to be awarded prizes even at this local level rather than the Highland Show.
There may be no more silver medals but the possession of an award helps the farmers to secure a good price when their animals are sold at Lawrie and Symington in Lanark.
And, of course, it’s a great way for our farming community to meet up too.