Southwell & District Agricultural Society began modestly in 1855 as an organisation seen to be beneficial not only to farmers but also their workmen. The aim was to promote enterprise, skill and industry in agricultural pursuits generally, and more especially to give increased zest and interest to the daily avocations of the industrial class.
It was a small affair with just four ploughing classes plus one for plashing (hedge laying), one for servitude and a sweepstake for roots. In 1870 cattle, pig and sheep classes were added, horses and jumping classes the following year and a poultry show in 1872. A dog show was added in 1876. However, in 1880 it folded after the farming content had waned.
Twenty years later the society reappeared as the Southwell Farmers’ Club and kept going until the outbreak of the First World War. After the war, the Southwell Farmer’s Union, appreciating the value of the show to the local community, revived the event in 1922 and three years later it was again including classes for livestock and horse jumping.
The event began to grow: classes for tractor ploughing were introduced in 1936 and ladies were encouraged to take part in the Dressed Poultry and Dairy Classes but war intervened yet again and 1938 was the last appearance of the Ploughing Match and Show until September 1947.
Since 1947 the show has been held at a different venue each year (only missed in the Foot & Mouth years, the most recent being 2001). It has gone from strength to strength, increasing the number of classes on the ploughing fields, in the show rings and the domestic and horticultural produce section.
It can now be considered as the foremost Ploughing Match and Show in Nottinghamshire.
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