Thursday, I spent at the Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset. Remarkably, I’ve been going to agricultural shows for 50 years. I was 5 years old when this show found a permanent home near Shepton Mallet.
My grandfather owned Yew Tree Farm which was next to the site. Yew Tree Farm House is on the left hand side of the road going up Prestleigh Hill on the A371. Apparently they used to herd cows up Prestleigh Hill. Now that’s steep. However, in the 1950s-60s road traffic wasn’t anything like it is now. Except maybe for one or two heavy quarry trucks.
Timekeeping for the farm was the sound of the steam trains echoing across the valley. That railway line was axed as so many were in 1965.
I have a childhood memories of the showground in the summer sun and in the pouring rain. As a boy I’d hop over the gate into the field used as a car park and into the show ground. Then there were few permanent features. The show was a sea of white tents.
What has changed? The long and the short of it is that it’s now not just an agricultural show. In fact, farming is at the heart of what goes on but everything else is much bigger. It’s a place where town and country meet.