Despite the dreary summer we're having, the Great Yorkshire Show this year was blessed with fine, if not hot weather. But the agricultural show has had its fair share of welly wearing, umbrella brandishing conditions over it's 158 years. And arguably, it's worse three days was the occasion it was held in Skipton, of all places. Clive White investigates.

THE three day show arrived in Skipton on August 1,1876, and was set up in a specially earmarked plot between the Leeds and Liverpool canal and the Midland Railway, near to Skipton sewage works and Bold Venture quarry.

It covered about 25 acres and was roughly 1000 yards from the old station near Cavendish Street which was brought back into use to enable stock to be driven in and out.

The town was buzzing with feverish excitement in the days leading up to the show, signalled by the arrival of Marshall Stephenson, one of the show secretaries. His job was to oversee the arrangements of the show field.

The Craven Herald reporter waxed lyrical stating: "It can be stated with confidence that some of the exhibitors, both stock and implements, the country can produce have entered and a first class show may be reasonably expected."

A star act was the planned appearance of the Band of the Grenadier Guards which was booked to play on the two final days.

It was a significant appearance, the band had shortly before visited the USA as reputedly the first British soldiers to set foot on American soil since the War of Independence in 1815. The British, who had just just finished defeating the French in Europe, were trounced by the Americans and sent scurrying in retreat.

The victory was celebrated 140 years later by county singer Johnny Horton with his song "The Battle of New Orleans" in which he revels in how the US army had the British fleeing down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sticking with the musical theme, the show organisers were also intent on hiring a brass band to perform in different parts of the town during the three days of the show to entertain those Skipton folk - and visitors - unable to get down to the show ground.

The gates opened on Tuesday, August 1, at 9am and on the following mornings at 8am, the admission price being half-a-crown on the first day and a shilling on each of the following two days.

The show - one of the biggest events ever to hit Skipton - was to be backed up by balls, galas and concerts in the town where it was also expected there would be a boost in the availability of food and drink.

And their expectations initially proved to be correct. Plenty of people were attracted to the show ground and its four monstrous tents crammed with food served by 100 waiters and or course there was tons of dry and green fodder for the umpteen animals.

Everything was going well for the first two days until Thursday, the final day, dawned and disaster struck. The Craven Herald reporter describes it as possibly the worse day one could experience for an agricultural show. "A perfect storm of wind and rain" had lashed down throughout Wednesday night.

He describes how the place was deserted and "occasionally a solitary figure or two might be seen darting across the field from the suite of offices whose presence was compulsory or that of an unfortunate reporter tasked to ascertain the effects of a trenching day on the show field." Business in the implement department was at a complete standstill, he comments.

But as the day dragged on it was to get far worse and by the end the showground was a huge swamp and attendance had been almost nil.

He goes on: " The general appearance is miserable, the terrific gale having caused considerable damage to the machinery and implements.

"At one tent, the uprights have been dragged out of the ground, the strong thick supports of the canvas snapped like matchwood and dashed with great vehemence on the machinery underneath.

"But a scene of greater wreck is witnessed in the open field where the refreshment tents and the sheep stalls are located. The first class refreshment tent has been blown down altogether, the sheep stall have almost completely lost the covering and the timber supporting them broken.

"The stable for horses is being filled with cattle and the horses, many of which were restive with fright, have been removed from the ground altogether,

"It is feared that many of the animals may have suffered from exposure. The ground resembles a huge swamp."

The show was not to be hit so catastrophically again until 2012 when it was cancelled after the first day because of torrential rain which made the car parks unsafe.

It was founded in 1837 and was originally a travelling event, each year moving to a different location. It continued like that until 1950 when the Yorkshire Agricultural Society bought its present ground in Harrogate.