Penistone Show

According to the Penistone Almanack of 1953, the first Penistone Show was on 21st September 1854. Penistone Agricultural Society marked 1953 as the centenary of the Show, with 2003 as its 150th year. The Almanack also reports a nine-year lapse for the Second World War. It returned on Saturday 21st August 1948 as the 80th show. 2011 was declared as the the 139th and the 50th Show since its return after WWII, so there must have been some cancellations in that period. It would have been the 158th without any cancellations from the start.

There has been a few near-cancellations in 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.

Its location has moved around somewhat 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 at 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 of them with prominent chains to their pocket watches. Mr Wood has some kind of badge of office on his lapel, which is not clear enough to make out in close-up. (picture coutesy of The Don Press).

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