Smithfield fêtes 77 years at the Aggie

MORE than 60 years fell away in a ceremony to commemorate the 77 years during which the Royal Smithfield Show was held at the former Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London.

Royal Smithfield Club president Lord Howland, whose ancestor, the 5th Duke of Bedford founded the Club in 1798, was joined at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Captain Ben Coutts and Lawrence Bembridge, both of whom took part in the last Smithfield Show held at Islington in 1938.

Capt Coutts was then working as a cattleman, breeding and showing Sussex animals for Lord Woolvertons Graffham Estate. Lawrence Bembridge, now 91, first exhibited Lincoln Red cattle at the Show in 1934.

The “Aggie” was requisitioned by the government on the outbreak of the Second World War and subsequently fell derelict. In a curious historical twist, it was reincarnated as the Business Design Centre by the Morris familys City Industrial.

This company has recently bought Earls Court, venue for present-day Royal Smithfield Shows, with backing from the equity house, Candover.

The deal includes Olympia, former site of Poultry and Dairy shows.

The previous operator was P&O. Chairman of the BDC Jack Morris pledged to maintain the building for future generations and said he was delighted to renew involvement with the Royal Smithfield Show.

Lichfield entries roll in

  • The RSC reported at the ceremony that it had already received 177 entries for its Winter Fair, an innovation for the Club, which is to be held at Lichfield Auction Centre, Staffordshire on Thursday 2 December.

    In a departure from tradition, this will be judged on strictly commercial lines, all animals going for slaughter and subsequently judged as carcasses as part of the competition.

    Entries so far received are well up to expectations, including 70 beef animals, 55 lambs and 52 head of pork and bacon pigs. (Pigs will not be judged live).

    The Fairs object is to make RSC activities more attractive to commercial producers, said Club chairman Donald Biggar. Ten of the entries so far received are from farmers who are not RSC members.

    “This is very pleasing, in light of the current state of the industry,” he commented. “Preparing an animal for the Earls Court Show requires a great deal of commitment, time and expertise. The Winter Fair provides an opportunity to broaden the competitor base.”

    The Winter Fair will include a special suckled calf competition and sale.

    Entries will compete for another new award, the Duke of Bedford perpetual trophy. In addition, if a calf bought at Lichfield goes on to win the Supreme Championship at the Royal Smithfield Show at Earls Court in November 2000, it will receive a further prize of £1000.

    Another feature will be a Farmers Forum session, Quality for Profit, sponsored by Schering-Plough Animal Health and organised by Farmers Weekly.

    Speakers will include Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, and David Raine, chairman of the National Sheep Association.

    The event will include demonstrations of foot trimming, worming with a bolus and ultrasonic scanning for pregnancy diagnosis.

    The second stage of the Fair will be a meat exhibition and luncheon, for exhibitors only, sponsored by Marks & Spencer and held at Dawkins Internationals premises at Congerstone, Nuneaton, on Sunday 5 December.

  • Visitors entry to the Winter Fair at Lichfield on 2 December will cost £5, or £4 if booked in advance

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