Tring in War Time, 1914-1919

A.G.M. of the Tring Agricultural Society


Extracts from the Bucks Herald of 6th February, 1915

Edited from British Newspaper Archive

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The Annual General Meeting of the Tring Agricultural Society was fully reported in the Bucks Herald every year and 1915 was no exception. What was unusual is that the annual report started with a summary of how the 1914 show was disrupted by the outbreak of war only days before it opened, and that at the end of the meeting there was a discussion in which it was decided not to hold a show in 1915 because of the war.

The report occupies a full page of the paper (apart from three adverts) and includes a very large number of names - most relating to prize winners in the different classes. It is far too long to transcribe fully here (visit the British Newspaper Archive to see if your ancestor was a prize winner) but I have selected the key sections relating to the running of the Show and some example classes:-

  • List of members attending the AGM - mostly from near Tring - plus comments on membership - including the likely effect of the war.
  • Annual Report (in part)
  • List of members of the Society who have died in the last year, including Sir Walter Gilbey - who was a pupil on the Tring Park Estate - and Second Lieutenant Eric Dennys Murray, of the 19th Hussars, who was reported missing when fighting with the Expeditionary Force in October 1914.
  • An account of the decision to hold the 1914 show, which was held only days after War had been declared.
  • A list of prize winners who did not claim all their winnings to help the Society in minimising its losses. As can be seen from the addresses the show attracted entries from all over the country.
  • The prize winners in the Shire Horses section of the show. (Many other classes are listed in a similar way.)
  • Report on the Sheep Dog Trials and the Sheep Shearing Competition
  • Prize winners for Best Stalls
  • Mention of the role of the Tring Boy Scouts
  • Part of the discussion and the vote when it was decided not to hold a show in 1915. It is clear that by this time it was clear that the war would not be over quickly.




The annual general meeting of the members of this Society was held at the Rose and Crown Hotel, Tring, on Friday, Jan. 29, when an important discussion took place as to the desirability of holding the 1915 show. In the absence of Mr. Richardson Carr, on active service, the chair was taken by Mr. F. K. Hervey-Bathurst. Others present were Messrs. F. J. Brown (secretary), R. A. Ayre (Watford), F. Bedford (Dudswell), R. W. Bedford (Tring), F. W. Dickens (Frithsden), T. W. Fountaine (Dilston), F. Grace (Tring), J. Griffin (Tring), L. J. Hawkins (Pitstone). J. T. Hardern (Berkhamsted), J. B. Hedges (Boarscroft). R. H. Keene (Medmenham), F. M. Kidston (Betlow), W. N. Mead (Tring), L. Newman (assistant secretary), F. Philbey (New Mill), M. Pratt (Tring). J. H. Pratt (Folly Farm, Tring), J. Putman (Aylesbury), J. T. Reeve (Pitstone), J. S. Roads (Norduck), W. J. Rodwell (Tring), W. B. Southernwood (Long Marston), H. Logan Turner (Puttenham), and W. H. Woodman (Wilstone). Apologies for absence were received from Messrs. J. Clarke, A. J. Flowers, E. Dawe, and H. W. Bishop.


The annual of the Secretary was presented as follows: -

The report for the past year's show and work has to be made under the most exceptional circumstances that have ever occurred during the history of the Society, extending over its 76 years of existence.

You still have your Royal Patron H.M. the King, who has graciously continued his patronage.

The Right Hon. Lord Rothschild retains that deep interest in agriculture which has marked so conspicuously his many years as  your President, and continues his interest in the welfare of the Society, which has grown to such proportions under his influence.

There were at the date of the show 70 vice-presidents, 8 life members, 570 ordinary members, and 118 donors to the Prize Fund; but owing to the exceptional circumstances of the year the numbers by withdrawals, which it is hoped is temporary, have reduced by 44. But against this I am pleased to say that during the year we have enlisted 59 members and donors; but it must be borne in mind that when next year comes round we must be prepared for a considerable falling off in membership, in common with other Societies, not particularly among our purely agricultural members, but among the many hunting men and others, who are probably at the Front fighting our battles, and who have become members by their association with hunting and all that is connected with it.

During the year the following members have passed away:- Sir Walter Gilbey. Bart., Lord Clarendon, of Watford, Mr. Wm. Foster, of Mel-Vallev (famous for his ponies), Dr. James Brown (one of the most respected men in this district)., Messrs. J. Alston, John Watson, and Lieut. E. D. Murray, the latter being killed in action; and although it may be invidious to mention one in particular, the late Sir Walter Gilbey has perhaps, as one of the greatest agriculturists of his day, a special claim to your notice. His great interest in the building up of the Shire horse appeals to all, and his book on "The Great War Horse of the Past," from which the Shire has been evolved, has always had a great attraction to the writer, to whom Sir Walter presented a first copy. The Hackney man and the polo pony enthusiast have equally to thank him for having helped on the good work. Sir Walter had been a member of Tring Show for 22 years, and he must often in his younger days have trodden the ground where our annual show is held, when a pupil on the Tring Park Estate.

I had to record in the report for 1913 one, if not the most successful shows in the records of the Society, and there was little at the time of the general meeting, and until the last few days before the show, to indicate that the success would not be repeated; but those few last days of July and the first three days of August were full of moment to the whole country, and of course to the show in a like measure. There were many things under the circumstances which had to be done on the spur of the moment, one of the chief things being to decide whether the show should be held or otherwise. The Showyard Committee were hastily called together, and the views of the President obtained, military authorities and caterers and railway authorities consulted, and scores of telegrams sent and received. The outcome was that it was practically impossible on such short notice to put the show off. and that it must be held, but confined to the business portion only; consequently the Fireworks section was countermanded, and owing to the military exigencies the Musical Ride and other sections connected ¦with the military, including the Band performance, had perforce to abandoned; but the remainder of the programme was gone through, and sufficient stock in all sections arrived to enable the prizes to awarded, and to make a creditable display. Nearly all the trade exhibits were also able to put in an appearance, despite the railway difficulties.

 Looking back on all the circumstances, although some surprise was expressed a few that the show was held, it requires a big grip to taken of the fact to appreciate what it would have been to have cancelled the event. When you expect attendance of some twenty to twenty-five thousand visitors it would be impossible in the short time to let people and exhibitors know the altered conditions, and many exhibitors were even then on the ground with their dairy cows.

From the financial side of the question a hasty estimate was made of the position, presuming it was possible and the show was abandoned. Every tent, shed, and stand was in position; every town within a wide radius posted and the preparations completed, which up to that moment had to be paid for. The caterers were guaranteed a large number of visitors to the luncheons, and their arrangements were complete. If no show had been held it entailed further the return of all entry fees to exhibitors, the return of money to stand-holders, advertisers, tickets, and spaces round the ring previously booked, and so on. The estimate on all these matters amounted to the prodigious sum of £1,200. It is a pleasure to say that by holding the show, and by the kind actions of many members and contributors, who are referred to later, the working of the whole matter only show a loss to the Society of a sum of £450, an amount equivalent to the profit of the previous year's working, and the attendance was 10,000 instead of the usual 20,000, the members must rest contented that the funds were nor further imperilled, and that the Society will be ready to take up its good work whenever it is thought well to put it in motion again.

In the process of paying out the prizes and other accounts opportunity was given, but no one was pressed, to contribute to the inevitable shortage of income over expenditure, and it was a pleasure to receive such willing response from so quarters; and at the head of the list it is not invidious to mention that the greatest assistance came from the least remunerative section, owing to the great expense of showing, viz. the harness horse exhibitors, two lady exhibitors returning the whole of their prize money, amounting to £l9.

Below is appended list of exhibitors who gave a special donation from their prise money:

Mr. L. Ackroyd, The Farm, Menston, vid Leeds.

Mr. A. E. Blackwell, Chipperfield, Kings Langley.

Mr. Joseph Brandon. Horton, Leighton Buzzard.

Mr. F. Brazier, Grandborough, Winslow.

Mr. W. W. Birrell, Bentley Heath, Barnett.

Mr. S. E. Batty, Ravenfield. Rotherham.

Messrs. Chivers and Son. Ltd., Histon. Cambridge.

Mr. J. Clarke, Park Hill, Tring.

Mr. John Dykes, Hill Farm, Taplow.

Mrs. Evelyn, Wotton House, near Dorking.

The Edgcote Shorthorn Company, Ltd. Edgcote.

Mr. B. Eyre, jun., Barnford, near Sheffield.

Mr. Wm. Finch, Lovetts End, Hemel Hempstead.

Mr. H. W. Fowler, Broughton, Aylesbury.

Mr. A. F. Frame. Pyrford Place Farm, Woking.

Mr. A. Miller-Hallett, Goddington. Chelsfield.

Messrs. J. H. Hawkins and Son, Pitstone, Tring.

Messrs. H. W. Hobbs and Sons, Kelmscott, Lechlade.

Mr. R. H. Keene, Westfield, Medmenham.

Mr. F. M. Kidston. Betlow, Tring.

Mrs. A. C. King. Braishfield Manor, Romsey.

Mr. W. F. Manning, West Park, Wing.

Mr. J. C. McGowan, Hatfield.

Mr. G. A. Monk, Putlowes, Aylesbury.

Miss Ella Ross, Beechfield, Sale, Cheahire.

Mr. J. Rowell, Bury, Huntingdon.

Mr. Thomas Simpson. Haynes. Beds.

The Exors. of Mr. R. Smith, Pollicott, Thame.

Miss Dora Schintz, Childwall Hall, Liverpool.

Mr. A. Smiles, Monks Green, Fetcham.

Mr. J. Tagg, Mill Cottage, Derwent.

Exors. of Mr. T. Vasey, Slapton.

 Mr. J. G. Williams, Manor, Tring.

Shire Horses were all judged in one ring this year, Messrs. Green and R. H. Keene undertaking the duties judges. Some exceptional animals were exhibited, the most successful exhibitors being Sir E. D. Stern, Messrs. W. and H. Whitley, The Edgcote Shorthorn Company, Ltd., Messrs. John Rowell, A. Smiles, and. E. I. Appleby.

The Edgcote Shorthorn Company, Ltd., won the Open Challenge Cup with their noted yearling filly, "Fine Feathers," the same exhibitors also showing the reserve exhibit.

The Shire Horse Society's Gold Medal went to that exceptional mare, "Mollington Movement," shown by Messrs. W. and H. Whitley.

Local Shires were good lot. Mr. F. M. Kidston repeated his 1913 achievement, winning the Local Challenge Cup with his mare, "Black Belle;" the other principal winners being Messrs. W. C. and A. J. Flowers, J. B. Hedges, F. Brazier, G. A. Elliott, G. S. Pratt, Milton Harris, and J. Dykes.

The Sheep Dog Trials were judged Mr. S. Lund. The single dog class was won Mr. L. Ackroyd, who also took the Challenge Cup, which now becomes his absolute property. Mr. B. Eyre, jun., won the doubles; other winners being Messrs. S. E. Batty, J. Tagg, and J. B. Bagshaw.

These trials continue to of great interest to the general public, and are the most attractive feature that we have, and have to thank our doggy friends for coming to us on this occasion under such difficult railway circumstances. entailed by the war, and having to travel all night from the Llangollen trials the day previous.

Great interest was taken in the Sheep Shearing Competitions, which were judged by Messrs. F. Payne and T. W. Fountaine; and the rewards to Labourers’ Classes had a very large entry.

The Liberty Challenge Cup and Silver Medal was won by Mr. W. F. Manning, of Wing Park, as the Local winner of the most points in the cattle sections.

Mr. C. C. Tudway awarded the Silver Medals and Diplomas for the best displayed stands, his awards as under:-

Seedsmen. Messrs. Jas. Carter and Co.

Horse and Cattle Medicines, Messrs, Osmond and Sons. Ltd.

Cake Merchants. Messrs. Thos. Branton and Co.. Ltd.

Implements and Machinery. Mr. W. C. Ashby.

Miscellaneous. The Kent County Fencing Company.

A Medal and Diploma was also awarded to The Westmeria Company in the miscellaneous section, upon the recommendation of the judge.

Dickenson's (Apsley) Prize Band rendered attractive music throughout the day. The Tring Boy Scouts acted as judges’ attendants. and the Aston Clinton Troop sold the catalogues and programmes. Both Troops carried out their duties very satisfactorily.


The Chairman at this point said the matter they were discussing was very important one, and the best way would be to hear the view of the members present.

... ... ... ...

Mr. Hawkins — I think Mr. Bishop takes for granted that the war won’t over.

Mr. Brown — That is the opinion held by 19 out of every 20 people. Even if the war was over next month, fighting would still on for another three months, while the conditions of were being considered. Germany is not going to climb down all at once; and although she might bring forward several proposals, the fighting would continue until the time that peace was declared. There would be no armistice, as we  are dealing with a treacherous enemy, who might take such a course with a view to recuperating herself. There will be no cessation of war until the terms of peace are settled either in Berlin or London. regards the conclusion the war. As regards the conclusion of the war, we may dismiss it as not coming within the range of possibilities within the next six months, and that would bring us up to August. It is too big job to hope for the end of the war before the date of our show, and the only question seems to to be — Shall we have the show or not?

Mr. F. Bedford moved that the show should not held this year.

Mr. W. N. Mead seconded.

Mr. Rodwell, in supporting the resolution, said that what they ought to guard against was not to allow their show to degenerate into a third rate one. If they held a show this year, instead of 10.000 being present they would get, say, 5,000, and it would be very difficult to carry it out successfully in such circumstances. He was of opinion that they should "start fair" next year and have a good show.

The Chairman said, personally, he would be very sorry for the show to be held while that terrible war was still progressing. He did not think they would ever hear how critical the whole thing had been at times. At one period we had just enough men to hold one line, and nobody behind them. The war was a fight to a finish between Germany and us.

Upon a show of hands the resolution was earned nem. con., practically the whole of the members voting for the abandonment the show.

See also

Tring Agricultural Show in 1914

Tring Agricultural Association: Volume for 1853-1861

Tring Agricultural Society, 1859


February 2015


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