The Great Yorkshire Show - England's Premier Agricultural Event

Tuesday 14 - Thursday 16 July 2015

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A brief history of the Great Yorkshire Show

The Great Yorkshire Show was born in October 1837 when a group of leading agriculturalists, led by the third Earl Spencer, met at the Black Swan Hotel in Coney Street, York to discuss the future of the farming industry*.

The result was the decision to form an organisation - the Yorkshire Agricultural Society - whose aims were to improve and develop agriculture and hold an annual agricultural show of excellence.

Thus the wheels were set in motion and the first Yorkshire Show was held in Fulford, York, in 1838. Attendance figures were not recorded until 1842 when the Show was held in York. The figure was 6,044. In the early years, in common with other shows, the Yorkshire Show did not have a permanent site and moved to showgrounds around the county. It was held in all the main centres of population - no fewer than 30 towns in the three ridings.

Then in 1950 the innovative decision was taken to build a permanent showground. The Harrogate site was purchased and its imaginative layout and excellent facilities quickly resulted in it becoming a role model for others.

In 1992 the decision was made to remain on the Harrogate site and an ambitious £10m re-development programme was embarked upon. Since then the Showground's prestigious conference and events venue, the Yorkshire Events Centre and Pavilions of Harrogate have gone from strength to strength. In addition the number of events staged on the Showground year round has increased dramatically - it is now busy 12 months of the year.

* British Home Stores now stands on the site of the original Black Swan Hotel in York but a plaque on the wall outside records the fact that the Society was formed at the Hotel.

Cock O’The North Championship

The Cock o’the North Showjumping Championship is the most prestigious show jumping competition within the Great Yorkshire Show. It attracts international names from the equestrian world and never fails to provide a superb climax to three days of excitement through the qualifying classes. The Main Ring is the setting for the competition.

The famous Silver Cockerel Trophy which was kindly presented to the Society by jewellers, James R. Ogden and Sons Limited, James Street, Harrogate, was first competed for at Harrogate in 1968 and the inaugural winner was David Broome riding A. Massarella and Sons’ ‘Mister Softee’. David returned in 1969 only to be beaten into second place by Harvey Smith on Mr. J.B. Eastwood’s ’Mattie Brown’. He did, however, triumph again in 1970 with Mrs. M. Bates-Oldham’s ‘Ballywillwill’.

The 70’s saw many popular combinations take the trophy, including:

The 80s began with a victory for Yorkshireman Graham Fletcher on ‘Preachan’ with Steven Hadley taking the 1981 Championship partnering ‘Sunorra’. 1982 went down in history as "The Year of the Smith’s" due to a remarkable treble, with Harvey taking first and third places on ’Sanyo Technology’ and ’Sanyo Cadnica’ respectively and Robert placed second riding ‘Vista’. This was to prove Harvey’s last victory in the competition.

Malcolm Pyrah recorded his only win in 1983 on Mr. Tom Hunnable’s popular horse ‘Towerlands Anglezarke’ and the 80s closed with back to back victories for Robert Smith on ‘Brook Street April Sun’ in 1988 and ‘Brook Street Boysie’ in 1989. Perhaps the most popular winner was in 1991 when John Whitaker triumphed on Mr. and Mrs. T. Bradley’s all time favourite ‘Henderson Milton’. The famous Yorkshireman took the trophy again in 1996 with Gammon, and was back in the spotlight in 2002 winning with the famous Steps Helsinki.

The 2004 Show saw the trophy go across the border to Lancashire as Peter Murphy took the honours with Taomie Star and 2008, and in 2010 William Funnell took the trophy riding Cortaflex Mondriaan.

The 2013 competition was won by John Whitaker, riding Maximillian, which was the 6th time this Yorkshireman has taken home the silverware.  

In 2014 the title was won by Robert Bevis of Wrexham after a thrilling clear round on Pebbles IV.

Yorkshire Agricultural Society - Fact and Figures

Yorkshire Agricultural Society formed: October, 1837 in York
First President: Third Earl Spencer
First Show: Fulford, York (1838)
Honorary Show Director: Bill Cowling
President of the Society (2014/15): The Rt Hon The Lord Crathorne
President Elect: Sarah York
Chief Executive: Nigel Pulling, appointed April 2002
Chairman: Simon Theakston
Harrogate Showground Purchased: 1950
Showground Acreage: 100 acres
Car Parks: 250 acres
First Show at Harrogate: 1951
Attendance: 2014: 130,989
2013: 134,837
2011: 135,086
2010: 131,382
2009: 130,731
2008: 126,376
2007: 122,042
2006: 135,111 - all time record

Previous Record 131,075 in (1979) First recorded attendance figure was in 1842, venue: York 6,044
Competitive Entries:

2014: 12,843 - all time record
2013: 12,245
2012: 12,630
2011: 12,713
2010: 12,020
2009: 12,189
2008: 10,664
2007: 11,738
2006: 11,472

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