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