Our Show History


In the beginning…

1859 – At a meeting of the Stokesley Agricultural Society held at the Golden Lion Inn, Stokesley, on March 12th 1859 it was resolved that “In the opinion of this Meeting it would be greatly beneficial to this District to establish an Agricultural Society, with an Annual Show, at Stokesley, to be called the Stokesley Agricultural Society.

The Show has only not been held during the wars of 1914 – 1919 and again in 1939 – 1945.

1908 – The Jubilee Cup presented by J P Sowerby to mark the 50th Show in 1908/Jubilee.  It was awarded to the best animal in the show, a special class for that year.  It was won by the Workhouse Pig, obviously well fed. Mr & Mrs Whittle the Master and Mistress of the Workhouse were presented with the trophy which remained in the family until 1987 and 100 years later was given back to the Society. The Workhouse was built in 1848 and had 104 inmates.

1924 – Finance Committee Report – for the first time since the War the price of admission to the Show was reduced to one shilling all day, as the freeing of the Show from the Entertainment Tax offered a good opportunity of returning to the old price of admission. The Show resulted in a loss of £6.5s.2d.

1927 – Finance reported – owing to the acumen of the Secretaries during the past 5 years a sum of £63.3s.6d has been recovered from the Income Tax Authorities.  By 1934 the admission charge had advanced to; 1s 3d, in 1946 to 2s, 1961 3s, 1971 25p, 1976 60p, 1984 £1.70, 1989 £2.50, 1992 £3. 1999 £5. 2018 £12.&

Over 60 years ago the costs were around £4k, today they are over £120,000.

The War Years – Shows have continued to be held on an annual basis since that year except during the hostilities of 1914 – 1919 and again 1939 – 1945.  However, during this latter period, a request from the Red Cross Agricultural Fund for funds resulted in a donation of £100 and a Red Cross Garden Show then took place in 1943,1944 and 1945 after which the Show returned to normal.  At this resumption the Secretaries were instructed to ask the M.P (Sir Thomas Dugdale) to ‘obtain of the following gentlemen to be president for the year, Winston S Churchill, Anthony Eden or Duke of Norfolk.’  At the November meeting he regretted that he was unable to get Winston S Churchill but to leave the matter with him until after the Christmas recess.  The Earl of Feversham was duly appointed.

The Germans invaded Poland on September 1st 1939 and on Saturday September 2nd 1939 it was resolved ‘that due to the International Situation that the Show be cancelled and all Subscriptions, Special Prizes and Entry Fees to be returned.  On September 3rd Britain and France declared war on Germany.

The ending of the War allowed the Society to purchase 500 wooden seats which had been removed from air raid shelters at a cost of 2s each.  The War effects gave further concern.  A letter was received from marquee contractors Speedings Ltd in November 1945 stating that it will be impossible to do the benching for tents ‘as our stock was used up during the War period and until we obtain permits to purchase timber we regret that we cannot quote.’

Brass Band music has played a major role over many years and before the change to a Saturday show all the major top class bands had been engaged.  The World’s Champion Band, Black Dyke Mills first came in 1929 at a cost of £45 and came many times and by 1952 their cost was £75.  Other bands to have featured Fairy Aviation, CWS (Manchester) Brighouse and Rastrick Grimethorpe and many others.

Stokesley Water Mill

The water mill known as Fiddlers Mill was on the edge of the Showfield, the Domesday Survey of 1086 recorded a water mill probably on this site.  It last worked about 1945.

It was demolished in 1983 and in August 1988 the Stokesley Society was given permission to place the mill wheel on the river end of the car park.

Our Presidents

The early names of Presidents of the Society reflect the history of the district and the following names give a flavour of the standing of the Show: Sowerby, Marwood, Pease, Bolckow, Bell, Turton, Dorman, Ropner, Dugdale, Constantine.  Others in later years continued to reflect business, land owning and service to the Show.  It is interesting to note that the first lady President was Mrs F Wynne Finch in 1952.

2022 President is – Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant Of North Yorkshire – Mrs Johanna Ropner

More recent years…..

Ladies toilets were constructed by Tarrens of Hutton Rudby in 1949 at a cost of £440 to seat 30.  These were demolished in early 1997 as times changed for the facilities!

The very early shows restricted the area from which exhibitors could compete and the first year entries totalled 295. Fifty years later there were 2305 and by 2017 there were over 5000 entries.

1965 -A decision to fell Crow Wood was taken in January 1965, this was a major undertaking and required much work for those involved. 32 trees planted on the Show fields which included help from the Stokesley Civic Society.

1967 -The Show was held on the third Thursday in September until the meeting of November 24th 1967 when by 20 votes to 4 it was decided to hold the next show on Saturday September 21st and this was approved by the Annual Meeting the following February.  The formula for the date was fixed for the Saturday following the third Thursday in September.

1976 – saw the use of a wooden grandstand for the last time this was replaced by mobile stands and from 1981 the main ring was re-sited to the other side of the river and a members ringside marquee and enclosure was introduced.

The Show has always tried to reflect the rural area and the Objects of the Society states – The holding of an Annual Show for the display of exhibits and trades relative to agriculture and the community of the Stokesley area.  The improvement of agriculture, forestry, horticulture and allied industries, rural crafts and the breeding of livestock.  The demonstration of improved methods and processes connected with the above.

2009 – A celebration ball was held on the showground to celebrate the 150th Year of Stokesley Show.

2019 Stokesley Agricultural Society will celebrate its 160th year and we will be organising a Ball to take place on the showground which will be a celebration of everything that has happened over the previous 160 years, we aim to make it a night to remember.

2020 Cancelled due to Covid

2021 Cancelled due to Covid

2022 – A triumphant return

Back in 2023 – Saturday 23rd September 2023

If you have any historical information of the Show, you would like to share, please contact our Secretary and we will add to…