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Mid-Argyll Show

History 1887 - 1897


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Rumour has it that there may have been some form of show as long ago as the middle of the last century, but the present Mid Argyll Agricultural Society had its first show in 1887 as far as press records go.


This first show took place at Lochgilphead on 13 May 1887 under the auspices of Lochgilphead Agricultural Society. Probably the early summer date was because a number of other shows were held in Mid Argyll and district and they already had summer or early autumn dates. Certainly Poltalloch Farming Society had a show in September each year and this was held in Kilmartin. Other shows are recorded at Tarbert, Craignish and Inveraray around the turn of the century. As for the name, it would seem Lochgilphead Agricultural Society soon became Mid Argyll Agricultural Society as it is known today.


The press record of the first show is interesting and states that weather was good and a large crowd attended. There was not a large entry and the main prizewinners were:-

  1. Ayrshire Cattle - A. Holmes, Balliemore and J. Craig, Turnalt.
  2. Highland Cattle - A. Sinclair, Upper Largie, A McDonald, Nether Largie, J. Campbell, Barnlaunich and J. Jackson, Arichonan.
  3. Clydesdale Horses - J. Johnston, Crear, J. Campbell, Ormsary and H. MacLachlan, Kilmartin.
  4. Sheep - A. Sinclair, Upper Largie, Sir J. Campbell-Orde, Kilmory.
  5. Horses Belonging to Carters - Dugald Gray, Lochgilphead.

In a press cutting of the week prior to the show it stated "a large turnout is expected from Greenock, Dunoon and Rothesay by the S.S. Iona. They will be conveyed back the same day by the S.S. Cavalier, leaving Ardrishaig at 6 p.m. and calling at all places on her way to Glasgow."


Other farming news from the same paper showed that in the Glasgow Market best bullocks were £16 10/- to £22 2/6. Also at Perth Market best class working Clydesdales up to £56.


Whisky was 2/7 to 2/11 per bottle in another advert.


An extract from Aird School, Castleton, log book showed the school was closed in the afternoon on account of low attendance, caused by Cattle Show.


The following year 1888 the show was also held in May at Lochgilphead in a field at Fernoch Farm (probably the one beside Bishopton Road and now a large housing estate). For some reason no results can be found of this show. Aird School were given a half day holiday this year after the experience of 1887.


Although no other reports of the show can be found until 1895 a very interesting piece of history relating to it has been found recently. Mrs Jean Blandford who used to own Kilmartin Hotel was in Canada and visited the descendants of Mr Thomas Ballantyne who owned the Hotel at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one. She was shown by his grandchildren a large silver salver won at the Mid Argyll Show in 1894 for the best Clydesdale horse. This Clydesdale was called Lily of the West. Mr Ballantyne, as you will see, was a frequent winner in the Clydesdale section at that time.


The next recorded show was in 1895 and as it will be 100 years since that show is a list of the main prizewinners:-

  1. Ayrshire Cattle - R. Millar, Torbhlaren and Sir J. Campbell-Orde, Kilmory.
  2. Clydesdale Horses - R. Millar, Torbhlaren, Sir J. Campbell-Orde, Kilmory and D. MacNeill.
  3. Best Driving Turnout - R. Finlay, Royal Hotel, Ardrishaig.
  4. Horseshoing - A. Campbell, Ardrishaig.
  5. Sheep - L. MacQuarrie
  6. Dairy Produce - Mrs MacLachlan, Auchnabreck and Mrs Miller, Torbhlaren.
  7. Poultry - Mrs Miller, D. MacKinnon, Brackley and W. Graham, North Erines.

This show of 1895 seems to have been held in good weather with an excellent turnout of spectators, 250 entries were recorded and quality of stock was good.


In 1897 the 11th Annual Show was held at Kilmory, Lochgilphead on 6th August. As you will see all the early shows up until about the 1914-18 war were in Lochgilphead because as already mentioned Kilmartin had its own show. Both the Mid Argyll and Poltalloch Shows ran together for many years but eventually, probably around the time of the 1914-18 war, Poltalloch Farming Society Show ceased or amalgamated with the Mid Argyll Agricultural Society. This probably made a lot of sense, because from the press reports of the time, the same farmers were winning prizes at both shows and it would be better to have one big show instead of two small ones.


In the early days the word "Cattle Show" was used as against today's "Agricultural Show". This show of 1897 seems to have been fairly successful with again an increase in entries. The following appear among the prizewinners:-

  1. Ayrshire Cattle - Col. Campbell, Inverneil
  2. Highland Cattle - Sir J. Campbell-Orde, Kilmory.
  3. Clydesdale Horses - R. Miller, Torbhlaren and T. Ballantyne, Kilmartin Hotel.
  4. Champion Horseshoer - Donald Sinclair, Bridgend.

There was also the unusual prize of an oil painting of the best animal on show by Mr Meadows an artist resident in Lochgilphead.

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