Penistone Show

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The first Penistone Show was held in 1853, although it was called an 'Exhibition' in those days. It had a mind-boggling list of patrons, which included several MPs, earls, lords and sirs. From the 1863 Stock Catalogue on the tenth anniversary, these were:

The Right Honorable The Earl of Scarborough, The Right Honorable The Lord Wharncliffe, The Right Honorable James Stuart Wortley, Sir Lionel M S Pilkington, Bart., F W T V Wentworth, Esq., J S Stanhope, Esq., MP, R M Milnes, Esq., MP, W B Beaumont, Esq., MP, John Chapman, Esq., MP, W S Stanhope, Esq., C D Charlesworth, Esq., G W B Bosville, Esq., Samuel Coward, Esq., Penistone, W F Dixon, Esq., Page Hall, Wilson Overend, Esq., Sheffield, R G Ramsden, Esq., London, W P Milner, Esq., Dykes Hall, W Smith, Esq., Barnes Hall, R J Bentley, Esq., Rotherham, Bentley Shaw, Esq., Lockwood, R C Clarke, Esq., Noblethorpe Hall, Thomas Vickers, Esq., Manchester.

President: John Spencer Stanhope, Esq., Cannon Hall, Vice Presidents: John Dransfield, Esq., Penistone and Thomas Tomasson, Esq., Thurlstone. Treasurer: Mr John Greaves, Penistone. Secretary: Mr John Haigh, Penistone. Also a committee of 24 men, which included John Ness Dransfield.

The Pictures
The location of Penistone Show moved around over the years. Looking at the first (undated) picture below, the Show was held in fields behind the town hall, roughly where Church View Crescent and Lees Avenue are now. You can see the factory chimneys of Cammel Laird puthering out pollution behind, with a northerly breeze. The row of houses on Church View Road was called 'Station Row' and was owned by the railway. Someone has suggested that the Show was for a period held in Water Meadows Park.

The air was very sulphurous in those days. Everyone had coal fires and local factories were not worried about air quality. You could almost taste the smoke in cold weather. Houses did not have double-glazed windows or loft insulation so they relied on a good hot fire. In many cases it also provided the house with hot water from a back boiler. Older readers will remember that local stone buildings were always black and it was regarded as their natural colour. In modern times with much lower air pollution they have gradually weathered back to a much lighter colour.

Old Pen ShowDetail of picture19741952 Almanack Cover

Station Row was fully occupied at the time of this picture but demolished in the 1960s. The rooftop of the main building of the railway station is just visible above the rightmost house. Names on the tents to the right were 'Day, Son & Hewitt' of London and further to its right is 'Makbar'. I could find only one person without a hat. The close-up shows the florid style of dress which the ladies wore. Children universally wore stiff white shirt collars for their Sunday Best, in those days. The third picture scan was kindly contributed by Paul Fieldsend and shows the 1974 Penistone Show on the current showground. It was a time of flared trousers and miniskirts and many of the ladies wore headscarves to keep out the breeze.

Show Committee 1913
This last picture is the very proud Penistone Show committee of 1913. From left to right, they are: Harry Lindley, George Beard, Fred Bailey, James B. Durrans (blacking works at Thurlstone), John Fallas and James Henry Wood (Wood's Printers). The photograph was taken by J Biltcliffe & Sons who had shops in Penistone, Skelmanthorpe and Denby Dale. There is not enough detail on the very hazy day to give a clue to where it was taken.

Notice the old-fashioned uniform of the policeman, right of JB Durrans' bowler hat. All of the committeemen appear to be wearing waistcoats, some with prominent watch chains. Mr Wood had some kind of badge of office on his lapel, which is not clear enough to make out in close-up. (Picture courtesy of The Don Press).

Hits and Misses
The first Penistone Show was held on 21st September 1853 on fields behind the Town Hall (not yet built), although it was not yet called the 'Show'. The Stock Catalogue dated 20th August 1863 referred to that year's event as: The Tenth Annual Exhibition of Penistone Agricultural, Horticultural and Floral Society, 'Established in 1853' (viewable in Penistone Library). The 1991 Penistone Guide (Ref 16) says that the 'Show' had been given this name by John Ness Dransfield.

In 1883 it moved to Brickfield, Unwin Street and changed to Saturday but rain and the change of venue killed off the Show until its return in 1889, back to Thursday and held in Bailey's Park, an area which is now the Park Avenue estate. It returned in 1895 on land behind the Town Hall, where it stayed until 1948. The following year it moved again to land near Water Hall, to eventually move to the current Showground. Ref 17 p80.

The 1954 Penistone Almanack reported a nine-year lapse for the Second World War. It returned on Saturday 21st August 1948 as the 80th show. 1953 was marked as the centenary of the Show and 2003 as its 150th year and 2011 was declared as the 50th Show since its return after the war (the 139th), so there must have been some cancellations in among.

There were a few near-cancellations in more recent times. One was a gun siege in the 1980s, with armed police watching a house right next to the Showground. Another time was a national concern about the spread of Foot & Mouth Disease. That was rectified by a ban on certain animals. The arrival of the Tesco looked as though it might stop the Show altogether - but it survived that too.

The Showground Field in Trust
To celebrate HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee of 2012, a scheme was set up via the National Playing Fields Association 'Fields in Trust' (NFA FiT) to protect recreational areas by Royal Warrant from the threat of being taken over for other purposes, such as land development for building. The last time this had happened was on the death of King George V in 1936.

Nominations were invited for recreational areas throughout the UK and a voting system set up on the Internet. In April 2014, Penistone 'Showground' (as it is universally known) received 395 votes, putting it in eighth place nationally out of more than 700 sites, which meant that its bid for protection was a success.

On the strength of this, Barnsley Council (BMBC) received a grant of £27,000 to provide an Outdoor Fitness Area on the recreation ground, which was match-funded with the support of the six BMBC Penistone Ward councillors. Ten Outdoor Fitness apparatuses were set up on the field, near the Bowling Club and swings area. In April 2014, an official QEII Playing Field plaque was erected and dedicated in a small ceremony.

Barnsley Council (BMBC) announced this on their news page 'Playtime in Penistone Given a Royal Boost' (BMBC Link):
'Penistone recreation ground will be formally dedicated under the Fields in Trust, Queen Elizabeth ll Playing Fields Challenge, in celebration of the Queens Diamond Jubilee.'

The actual area of the protected recreational land is about 9.68 Acres - 3.92 Hectares and bounded by a drystone wall, the Trans-Pennine Trail (former Woodhead Line railway), the rear of Tesco/Bowling Club wall, the lane by the garages, Back Lane and an area behind but not abutting Schole Avenue residents' gardens.

Although it had long been called 'The Showground' and was originally donated by a local farmer for recreational use before BMBC adopted it under Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, the official title on revised deeds was now changed to 'Queen Elizabeth II Field (Penistone Recreation Ground).'

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