1879 Royal Agricultural Society Show

Washout summers are not only a modern phenomenon

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Article · Queen's Park · NW6 ·
October
21
2015

Washout summers are not only a modern phenomenon

1879 Royal Agricultural Society Show
The 1879 Royal Agricultural Society of England’s annual show was held on an area which later became Queen’s Park.

The Kilburn show was opened on 30 June 1879 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The 100 acre site was chosen for its proximity to the railway network, Queen’s Park Station having opened on 2 June 1879 on the main line from London to Birmingham, just in time to facilitate the movement of heavy machinery and stock.

By the 1870s the annual shows had become major events and the Kilburn show was to be the largest every held. It saw an entry of 11,878 implements, 2879 livestock entries and over 187,000 visitors. There were many international entries and there was a Royal Box which was part of an arena seating 3000 people, the winning cattle and horses were paraded here every day.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England was formed in 1838 to promote the potential of science for raising agricultural productivity. Annual agricultural shows held in different parts of England, were seen as an important way by which the Society could achieve its aims of the spread of agricultural knowledge and to bring new techniques and improved farming methods to the attention of farmers.

The relative agricultural prosperity of the third quarter of the nineteenth century led to the shows taking on the character of agricultural carnivals or festival occasions. The streets of the host towns would typically be decorated and festooned with banners proclaiming ’Peace and Prosperity’ and ’Success to Agriculture’.

The 1879 Kilburn Show, took place during one of the wettest summers on record. Because of this the showground presented a ’thoroughly wet and dreary appearance’, the Society made a substantial financial loss on the event, £15,000, and twenty-three years later Joseph Darby recalled that:

... everyone who visited Kilburn retains vivid recollections of its excessive downpours; of the planks laid down the leading avenues and without which they would have been perfectly impassable... one man slipped and falling between two of the planks was so tightly wedged that it was difficult to pull him out.

The show ran for a week but the poor weather meant people had to struggle through deep mud and attendances fell disastrously. The visit to the show by Queen Victoria on the fifth day rallied visitors and nearly half the people who visited the show went on that day. The Queen was driven on a specially constructed drive of ballast and brick from the new station along Salusbury Road on a route lined with cheering crowds.

Source: A history of Queen’s Park, City of London archives


Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence

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1879 Royal Agricultural Society Show
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Queen's Park

Queen's Park lies between Kilburn and Kensal Green, developed from 1875 onwards and named to honour Queen Victoria.

The north of Queen's Park formed part of the parish of Willesden and the southern section formed an exclave of the parish of Chelsea, both in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. In 1889 the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works that included the southern section of Queen's Park was transferred from Middlesex to the County of London, and in 1900 the anomaly of being administered from Chelsea was removed when the exclave was united with the parish of Paddington. In 1965 both parts of Queen's Park became part of Greater London: the northern section - Queen's Park 'proper' formed part of Brent and the southern section - the Queen's Park Estate - joined the City of Westminster.

Queen's Park, like much of Kilburn, was developed by Solomon Barnett. The two-storey terraced houses east of the park, built between 1895 and 1900, typically have clean, classical lines. Those west of the park, built 1900–05, tend to be more Gothic in style. Barnett's wife was from the West Country, and many of the roads he developed are named either for places she knew (e.g. Torbay, Tiverton, Honiton) or for popular poets of the time (e.g. Tennyson). The first occupants of the area in late Victorian times were typically lower middle class, such as clerks and teachers. Queen's Park is both demographically and architecturally diverse. The streets around the park at the heart of Queens Park are a conservation area.

There is hardly any social housing in the streets around Queens Park itself, and the area was zoned as not suitable for social housing in the 1970s and 1980s as even then house prices were above average for the borough of Brent, which made them unaffordable for local Housing Associations. The main shopping streets of Salusbury Road and Chamberlayne Road have fewer convenience stores and more high-value shops and restaurants. Local schools – some of which struggled to attract the children of wealthier local families in the past – are now over-subscribed. House prices have risen accordingly.

Queen's Park station was first opened by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) on 2 June 1879 on the main line from London to Birmingham.

Services on the Bakerloo line were extended from Kilburn Park to Queen's Park on 11 February 1915. On 10 May 1915 Bakerloo services began to operate north of Queen's Park as far as Willesden Junction over the recently built Watford DC Line tracks shared with the LNWR. As of December 2013, no mainline services calling at the station and the Watford service has been transferred to London Overground.
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