In 2004 The Llanilar Show celebrated its Centenary, and a book “1904-2004: the first 100 years” was published to celebrate this. My late brother, Peter Loxdale, who had been Show President since 1998 wrote a very eloquent introduction. In a few words he summarised the history of the show, its relevance to the local agricultural community and his personal memories of coming to the show as quite a young child.
Nearly twenty years later what Peter wrote still resonates. He died in 2017, taken from us far too young. It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to this website and it is a tribute to his support for the show over nearly thirty years.
Castle Hill, 29 March 2023.
Show President’s Foreword (2004)
One wonders if the people who started this Show Society exactly 100 years ago would have thought that it would still be thriving in 2004. Think of the summer of 1904. Manned flight had taken place for the first time the previous winter. Motoring was in its infancy. Public radio broadcasts were nearly two decades away. Life was very different; the horse was the main source of power and transport and I imagine that steam-powered equipment would have still been a rare sight on farms in this part of the world. The Manchester and Milford Railway Company had improved communications two decades earlier. A trip to Aberystwyth became a half-day rather than a full day excursion. Provisions and goods from some distance away could be obtained efficiently and reliably.
Closer to home my Great Grandfather Reginald James Rice Loxdale was beginning to plan some improvements at Castle Hill. Acetylene gas lighting was to be fitted together with water tanks and a bathroom with hot and cold running water. This was the height of modem living in Cardiganshire.
It must have been quite an undertaking to compete at Llanilar Show in those early years. Local exhibitors would have walked their livestock and carried their produce entries to the field. I understand that for many years the railway laid on cattle wagons from Lampeter so that tenants from the estate in Cribyn were able to bring livestock to the Show here in Llanilar. Imagine asking people to undertake such a journey today!
Today’s exhibitors have other obstacles to overcome; licences and passports together with a myriad of regulations have taken the place of problems 100 years ago. It is very pleasing to think that despite two world wars and in recent years an outbreak of foot and mouth disease this locally organised event has continued to prosper for the benefit of the local community.
My own memories of the Show date from 1966. I can remember being driven down to the Show Field in a large dark grey Austin belonging to my late Grandmother, the President Mrs M L R Loxdale. She was being driven to the field by her bailiff to watch the Grand Parade and to present the prizes. I remember an enormous parade with many animals and horses which snaked its way around the main ring. Once the prize giving ceremony had been completed we returned to Castle Hill for a tea party. This caused great consternation with her housekeeper. Whilst only a few invitations had been sent before the day, many people were invited directly from the field so nobody knew exactly how many people would be coming to tea! To a six-year-old boy the house seemed to be packed with people.
In the four decades since much has changed, but I am pleased to say that the ethos of the show remains as it was then and as it was in 1904. Many of the people responsible for organising the show or competing in it today are descendants of those who started the event. My hope is that people will be able to say the same in another 100 years.
Castle Hill, 25 May 2004