England United, Kingdom.
The Minsterley Show is Shropshire’s oldest and most prestigious one day agricultural show bringing both town and country together on a beautiful site in the village of Lea Cross overlooked by the Stiperstones and bordered by the River Rea.
In 1875 the people of Minsterley decided to have their own show and so formed the Minsterley & District Horticultural & Athletic Sports Society. The rules of the society state ‘That the object of this Society shall be to improve the cultivation, neatness, productiveness, and arrangement of gardens in the neighbourhood, by means of Prizes; also to provide a day of amusement for the Inhabitants of the District’ and so in those early days the competition was mainly horticultural and local gardens were judged and there was also a prize for the best school garden plot. There were many classes for vegetables and also eggs and dressed poultry and for farmers, for mangolds and swedes. Children’s classes included a collection of wild flowers and for the best nightdress made in the school. On show day one of the greatest attractions was the horse racing and this was well supported by miners from Snailbeach and surrounding areas for whom it was the big event of the year!
The earliest schedule the Committee have is dated 1906 and which states that the Patron was the Marquis of Bath, the President, W. Clive Bridgeman Esq. And the Chairman, Thomas Hutton Esq. who was agent for the Bath Estate and who, amazingly, was chairman of the show for forty years!
The Show carried on through the First World War and the 1919 show saw a record attendance of 2383 and 707 attended the dance in the evening (on a boarded floor in the village hall!). The Horticultural Section was staged in the Parish Hall and the fields behind the hall were the show ground for cattle, sheep and pigs and the horse racetrack.. Simon & Greotrix’s up-to-date Electric Roundabouts were regularly present at the Show. The profit on the show was £40 0s. 11d.- Admission receipts were £91 15s. 10p. and £28 2s. 0d. taken at the dance but amongst the expenses were Luncheons for Judges, Reporters and Helpers £4 12s. 6d., Hire of Band and Piano £16 13s. 6d., ballroom polish 3s.0d. and Inland Revenue Stamps £19 17s. 2d. Prize money was £56 2s. 6d.
Dairy Classes were added in 1924 with the Wathes Minsterley Creamery sponsoring the prize money in the sum of £5 0s 0d. The Minsterley Dairy is still a sponsor and in recent years this has been a substantial amount for the Main Attraction.
In 1927 and 1928 classes for the ladies included ‘The Best Decorated Princess Petticoat’, the best darned stockings!, the best overall, the best pinafore and the best knitted baby’s vest – quite a variety. In these two years “the financial results of the show were rather disappointing” with losses of £26 0s. 0d. and £11 2s. 0d. respectively. Attendances were reported down at both the show and the dance but it is supposed that another reason for the financial shortfall was that the subscription to the Society of 1/- per annum which entitled “labouring men (i.e. persons employed in some heavy handicraft, but not mastertradesmen) to become members and also compete for prizes” had not changed for forty years!
The second Viscount Bridgeman was elected president in 1929 and he held that position for forty seven years and two years later name of the society was changed to ‘Minsterley & District Horticultural, Agricultural & Sports Society. In 1933 a Boxing Tournament was held at the Show – but only for one year! In 1937 the Show was held for the first time on a Saturday – but, again, only for one year!
1939 saw the last show until after the war and in 1946 Mr. Ernest Croft was elected Chairman and the show, still held on a Thursday, for the first recorded time had a “star” attraction – “Simara and Karola (late Government War Dog Trainers) with their Sensational Police Dogs, Stars of Film & Stage”
The post-war years saw the introduction of the Young Farmers’ competitions and also a Clay Pigeon Shoot. Records at this time are few and far between but in 1954 it is minuted that Mr. T. L. Williams’ land, on which the livestock section is held, is now registered attested and it was agreed ‘that all dairy cattle entered at the 1954 Show be attested’. The folowing year it was agreed ‘that this Society shall be called “The Minsterley Show Society”. In 1965 house building near the Parish Hall took most of the show site and so the show moved to Mr. Potter’s fields at Plox Green and was held there for fifteen years.
1975 was the Centenary Year and the main attraction was a Pageant to cover the past 100 years. From this time onwards the show grew considerably with many more entries of horse, dairy cattle, fat cattle, sheep and goats and the number of trade stands had increased to over sixty. In 1980 the Show moved to Poulton Farm, on the kind invitation of Mrs. Winifred Jones, MBE and she was the President for many years. More moves, and from 1990 - 1992 Richard Dale kindly accommodated at Park Farm and in 1993 Sutton Summers at Reabrook. In 1994 the Society were fortunate to obtain, by kind permission of the Hamer Family, the present Lea Cross Showground which, although a few miles from Minsterley but nearer to Shrewsbury, is perfectly situated on the A488 Bishop,s Castle road with adequate parking and easy access.