From cows to carnations...meet the Derbyshire County Show's oldest exhibitor

While Britain was basking in the post-war euphoria, 13-year-old Dorothy Taylor was preparing for her first-ever Derbyshire County Show.

The year was 1946 and the Taylor family, from Leabrooks, were assembling cattle from their herd of British Fresion cows to compete in the Show which, in this year, was to be held at Alfreton Hall.

“It rained and rained,” recalls Dorothy who, at the age of 85, will be one of the oldest exhibitors at the 138th Derbyshire County Show. The Show this year, though, will take place in the beautiful grounds of Locko Park in Spondon on Sunday, June 24.

Dorothy Allsop was a teenager when she took part in her first ever Derbyshire County Show. Penguin PR - public relations, press and media.

“My father, Owen Taylor, liked showing his cattle and I had gone along with him to help out.

“In those days, just after the war, people didn’t really go on holiday. There wasn’t as much choice back then.

“That’s why agriculture shows were always so popular. We used to go to Brinsley Show with the cattle, Pinxton and, one of my favourites, Moorgreen.

“I always enjoyed the shows. It was a lovely, family occasion. One of my favourite memories is of showing a cow - Kempsey Lola was its name - at Elvaston Castle.

“The judges put me in the ring and I went from 13th to first. It’s funny how certain things stick in your mind.”

The Show was founded in 1890 by a group of landowners and farmers. Led by doctor John Hitchman, the first medical superintendant of the county asylum, the group agreed to form the Derbyshire Agricultural Show.

There have been 137 shows since that time, with breaks due to wartime restrictions and an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1924 and 2001.

Dorothy Allsop is an expert in floral art. Penguin PR - public relations, press and media

For many Derbyshire folk – not least the 50-odd members of the Council who run the Show – it’s a big occasion.

Months are spent planning for the Show; preening the cattle, growing and nurturing the perfect carrot or, as Dorothy has been doing, arranging the prettiest, most striking flowers to enter in the Floral Art section.

“I first took up flower arranging as a young girl,” said Dorothy who, following her marriage to Richard Allsop and subsequent arrival of sons Robert and Andrew, swapped cows for carnations.

“I’m entering three pieces this year. I love a beautiful Iris or Chrysanthemum. I’ll try and get some of the flowers from my garden but, if I don’t have anything, I’ll get some flowers from the market.”

This year’s Show will be held, for the second successive year, at Locko Park in Spondon.

Over the years, the Derbyshire County Show has had many homes, including Elvaston Castle, where  Laura Froggatt recalls going with her son, on the Show’s Facebook page.

“There was one year, at Elvaston, when the mud was up to the knees of my son – who was then at nursery school. He’s now 14 and still remembers it well,” she said.

Neil Riley’s memory of the County Show is pure gold: “I remember going to the show as a family in the 1970s, all seven of us.

“Dad won a caged canary on a coconut shy; the bird was blind in one eye but sang like a nightingale and lived for years. His name was Hector (the canary, not dad!).”

Carol Francis has been to the County Show on many occasions. She said: “I used to go to the show with my parents and grandparents. Then, when I had my daughter, we used to take her. I now take my grandchildren and we always enjoy watching the horses, especially the show jumping.”

 

Tickets are still available for the 2018 Derbyshire County Show. Visit www.derbyshirecountyshow.org.uk to book yours.

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