69 years ago on 7-8 June 1951, the Suffolk Show came to Rougham and was located on the Rougham Estate’s largest field, the East Field.
We all tend to think of the county agricultural shows as happening on permanent sites and this has been the norm for many years. It was not however until 1960 that the Suffolk Agricultural Association used its recently acquired Trinity Park, located just outside Ipswich, for the Suffolk Show that year. The show has been held there ever since. In 1951 however the Suffolk Show was still travelling around each year visiting various parts of the county. The arrival of the show was a major event for the village of Rougham and for the Estate and indeed for Bury St Edmunds.
In the weeks leading up to the show the weather had been very wet and concerns were voiced as to how the East Field would cope with all the people moving around on it. Sir John Agnew, the owner of the Rougham Estate at the time commented that ‘the 75 acres is very light land and no amount of water will make a great deal of difference’. Clearly they were worried! As it turned out, the weather was dry with clear blue skies but a cold wind. Very similar to more recent shows!
The two day show attracted 34,000 visitors with some from abroad including the United States. It was described in the Bury Free Press as a small canvas town with trade stands ranging from humble tents to ‘futuristic’ style buildings which might have come straight from the Festival of Britain exhibition. There were four miles of fencing and 1,800 hurdles for the cattle pens. There were a record number of cattle at the show, which was generally regarded as a great success.
On a larger scale, 1951 was also the year of the Festival of Britain located on London’s South Bank, which was opened by King George VI on 3 May and ran on throughout the summer closing on 30 September. This was a time when things were beginning to look up after the war despite the fact that there was still food rationing in place. The hit Ealing Comedy The Lady Killers was released in cinemas in the same year.
Aerial photo from www.britainfromabove.org.uk