Howdenshire History

A History of Eastrington Show

Early origins: 'Eastrington Feast'

Eastrington has held a village celebration during the third week in June for well over a hundred years and probably longer. What was always called 'Eastrington Feast' originally consisted of perhaps a few races, a small fair and an excuse for a lot of family get-togethers, prefaced, even as it is today, by lots of hedge-clipping, baking and tidying. In the nineteenth century the celebrations lasted for a whole week and the children were given a holiday from school.

It has always been a lively event; indeed, in 1880 the Howden magistrate refused to grant an application to sell liquors and beers at the forthcoming Eastrington sports 'because of the bad character of the village'! However, the sports still went ahead 'in the grass field near the Cross Keys' (the present garage house was formerly the Cross Keys).


The first show

Officially, the first show might be said to date from 1892 when the first 'Annual Amateur Athletic Sports' were held in association with the Feast on Monday, June 20th. Three years later, in 1895, the first foal show was held in conjunction with the feast and sports and the event took on the shape of today's show with its mixture of fair, sports and livestock classes. Praise for the success of this event was later heaped on the secretary, the school headmaster John Dudley, 'whose courtesy, in the performance of his arduous duties, met with the approbation of all'. No doubt the same could be said of all those who followed in his footsteps including Norman Hains, his son-in-law, Stephen White, Doug Watson, Peter Ellis, John Blower and Roger Williams.

The prizes at these early events were well worth winning. The winner of the one mile race in 1897, for example, received a chime clock in a walnut case. In 1900 there were showing classes for horses in the afternoon and a jumping class held in the evening won by Mr Holey of Ousethorpe on his black mare, Bess, followed by athletic competitions. Entertainment was provided by the Selby Rifle Volunteer band and there were the usual 'swingboats, roundabouts, Aunt Sallies etc'. The 'fun was kept up until midnight' and visitors went home on special late trains provided by both the NER and the Hull and Barnsley railways.


Early twentieth century

By 1912 the fair was still held behind the Cross Keys but the show itself was held in Mr Fred Hawcroft's field on the west of Station Road. During the First World War the village continued to celebrate its Feast days with the children having a school holiday on the Monday and Tuesday, but the horse classes were not held, many horses having been requisitioned by the army. The show proper seems to have resumed by 1920.

By the 1920s the show had moved to Mr George Lilley's field on Howden Road, now the Playing Field, where it is still held. There were afternoon classes for agricultural, hackney, roadster and harness horses, a jumping class for the 'best leaper' and a trotting race. However, the main events took place in the evening when the wooden grandstand, kept in a shed at 'Lanegarth', then the home of show president George Smith and put up by Bob and Cliff Nurse, was full for the flat races and the cycling. Competitors came from as far afield as Malton, Hull, Pocklington and Knottingley with many of the cyclists pedalling to the show. There were some local entrants, notably village lad 'Billy' Barrow who was nationally acclaimed as a cyclist.


Unsettled times

Times were changing and in 1928 the agricultural show was disbanded with only the sports being held on a Saturday evening. The big events were the 100 yards flat race, with eight heats and over 60 competitors, and the cycle races, with over 40 competitors in each race. This 'Annual feast sports' continued to be held every year until the outbreak of war. A high jump for horses was introduced, regularly entered by Jonathan Scutt of Portington, and a musical stalls for ponies.

In 1939 flat races were held for local boys and girls.

The girls were: Marjorie Harrison, Olga Nurse, Beryl Harrison, Gladys Swann, Freda Bird, Jean Malcolmson, Diana Byrom, Nancy Marshall, Thelma Slater, Clara Harrison, Eunice Tomlinson, Dorothy White, Joan Hardcastle, Dorothy Nurse, Pat Littlefield, Trixie Harrison, Barbara Bennett and Doreen White.

The boys were: Hardy Bennett, Harold Atkinson, Leslie Watson, George Laister, Kenneth Young, Lawrence White, Gerald Brown, Gordon Harrison, Johnson White, George Dyson, Frank Wilde, Peter Morritt, Gordon Lilley and Brian White.

Then came the war; no more shows were held until 1950.The first show held after the war was was the 41st show. The events were mainly horse jumping with a one mile gallop at the end of the evening and the popular flat and cycle races. As before the war, there were junior races for boys and girls with a prize of £1 for the winners.

Some of the Eastrington runners were: Jean Hoggard, Judith Holmes, Betty Brown, Muriel Kendall, Evelyn Brown, Dawn Dove, Janet Lowther, Marie Brown, Joan and June Gilbert, Janice and Eleanor Flint, Alec Wraith, David Hoggard, Alan Malcolmson, Roy Chapman, John Homes, Robin Evison, Kenneth Hoggard, Brian Laverack, Malcolm Hoggard, Derek Flint, Reg Hoggard, Maurice Malcolmson and Jack Young.

The 49th show, held in 1958, saw the introduction of many more events for local people and a disappearance of the once popular adult cycling and flat races. In their place came fancy dress parades for both children and adults. Competitors assembled on the green at a quarter past five and made their way to the playing field for judging. As today there were prizes for prettiest, most original and most comic costumes.The fancy dress was followed by a slow bicycle race, an obstacle race, a pillow fight on a pole, a tug of war, musical chairs for cars and fancy dress on horseback. The horse and pony events did not begin until seven o' clock and consisted of two pony and two adult jumping classes.


Eastrington show in the 1960s

The 1960 show saw the introduction of the still popular children’s sports. The showjumping classes were growing in popularity and in 1960 the first 'Foxhunter' competition was held. Many showjumpers who came to Eastrington show to compete in these qualifiers and the 'grades B and C' class later went on to become well known international competitors. Malcolm Pyrah, Andrew Fielder, Dawn Palethorpe with ‘Earlsnath Rambler, Graham Fletcher, Mike Saywell, Michael Whitaker, William Barker and Stephen Smith all competed at Eastrington.

The committee in 1969 was led by president R.E. Lilley with chairman J.L. White, secretaries D.L. Watson and S.D. White, and helped by Mrs J. Sellers and treasurer M.C. Zaph. Other committee members in 1969 were J Bradshaw, L Brown, C Chapman, R Ingram, W. Malcolmson, S. Kay, L Binnington, J. Nurse, L Cowburn, A. Atkinson, K Atkinson, G. Benson, D. G Walker, J. Kendrick, W. Gilbert, F. G. Coates, G.R. Clarke, G Brown, J. Brown, G.H. Twidale, E. Brown, W. Cammidge, J. Robson, and G. Wilburn.

Eastrington show committee in the 1960s

Eastrington show helpers in the 1960s


Eastrington show in the 1970s

Refreshments, provided for some years by members of the Eastrington OAPs, were, in 1971, offered by Mr George Cosgrove at the tea tent. That year also saw the introduction of the children’s pet show and a boys' football tournament. Throughout the 1970s events were introduced to the show which brought a return to the agricultural emphasis of earlier years, including decorated heavy horses in 1972, tradesmen’s turnouts in 1973 and beef cattle classes in 1974.

The ladies of the village became involved in 1974 with the introduction of the open produce tent, organised by the Eastrington WI. Now baking, handicrafts, produce and children’s work could be displayed in a grand marquee on the field. The Young Farmers' club ran a series of unusual events during the 1970s including a bed race, a milk crate race and a blanket race.They also organised discos in the village hall after the show in the tradition of earlier decades.

These years also saw the beginning of the separate novice ring, tugs of war, juvenile jazz bands and PE displays by girls from Howden school. New secretaries Peter Ellis and George Benson began work in 1973 until 1978, when a team consisting of president Johnson White, chairman Albert Atkinson, vice chairman George Wilburn, secretaries Doug Watson, Harry Wiles, John Blower and Susan Butler, and treasurer Robin Watson took over. Social secretary Laurie Cowburn organised some very popular Eastrington Agricultural Society dinners and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Local pony entrants in several classes were Virginia Atkinson, Mark Atkinson, Dawn and Joy Lilley, some of whom went on to succeed in adult classes.


1980s to present day

In the 1980s there was a return for a time of cycle races and the introduction of sheep, show pony and agricultural horse classes. There were karate and sheepdog displays and even races for ferrets. New faces included Robin Cooke as chairman, Peter Wilburn and later Ray Towse as treasurers and John Blower taking responsibility as general secretary.

In recent years members mourned the untimely death of John Benson and of show stalwart Johnson White, while in 2001 no show could be held due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, but Eastrington show has continued to flourish with the help of new and enthusiastic helpers while many other local shows such as Newport have fallen by the wayside. Long may it do so.

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