Peak of the show season sees thousands head to the moor

Richard Hampshire, with sons Jack, 19, and Harrison, 13, at Factory Farm which came to the rescue of Emley Show.  Picture: James Hardisty
Richard Hampshire, with sons Jack, 19, and Harrison, 13, at Factory Farm which came to the rescue of Emley Show. Picture: James Hardisty
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WHEN MOTHER and son Pat and Richard Hampshire were approached to host Emley Show at their 120-acre tenanted Factory Farm in 2008, Richard had no hesitation.

He declined the opportunity immediately, but then quickly changed his mind and next Saturday sees its seventh year right next to one of Yorkshire’s best known landmarks - the Emley Moor TV mast.

“I said no straight away because I didn’t reckon I could fit it in with what we do and I didn’t know how much of the farm would be needed or whether it would be suitable, but my dad who was born and bred here would’ve been horrified that Emley Show may have had to finish.

“He had passed away in January that year and had always been a big supporter of it along with my mum so it is quite fitting that it’s now here.”

The show had been held at Low Fields for 34 years but cancellations in the recent past - in 2001 due to Foot and Mouth and two for flooding in 2002 and 2007 - had put it in danger of losing its place in the agricultural show calendar. “The committee didn’t want to risk another no-show through a further wash-out. If it floods up here we will all be in trouble! I remember Emley Show as being the highlight of the summer when I was growing up and from when I was with Flockton Young Farmers Club. In those days the sun always seemed to shine on show day. I was a bit apprehensive about taking it on at first. I knew that we’d never have a problem with flooding and guaranteed the others that much, but countered with the fact that they might get blown off the hill because it’s always windy up here.

“This is my second year as showground manager. I’m very proud to have the role and I have two very willing right hand men with me in my sons Jack (19) and Harrison (13). We’re all very much looking forward to this year’s show and delighted that we will be the only agricultural show in the county on Yorkshire Day.”

Emley Show is the largest one-day agricultural show in Kirklees and attracts 10,000-15,000 visitors, with strong classes of cattle, sheep and horses. British Blonde breeder Ken Jackson is a regular competitor and there are individual breed classes for Hereford, Highland and Dexter as well as Any Other Pedigree Beef, Native Pure Bred, Dairy and Commercials. Individual classes of sheep breeds include Texel, Suffolk, Ryeland and Jacob.

Cattle and sheep play their part at Factory Farm during the rest of the year and Richard runs a fencing contracting business which assists with the overall income.

“Dad never pushed me into farming, he never gave me the kind of pressure in saying I’m doing all this for you and he would always back me no matter how daft my ideas were. I tried lots of things including breeding rabbits for meat. We would argue but I can say now that the reason we did was because he was right. It’s one of those things you don’t like to admit when you’re younger.

“One thing that we’ve been able to do since starting the fencing contracting business is to keep up the quality of the suckler herd. I believed that we should keep the best and that’s what we have done.

“We currently have 40 cows that calve in spring and have a lot of Aberdeen Angus X. We’re using a Limousin bull as we got into a bit of a pickle with a Belgian Blue three years ago that didn’t perform at all.

“We like to keep our bull calves entire and we’ve found that Otley seems the best market for them. Dad was very taken with the late Ben Atkinson, their auctioneer. Dad only went there once a year but Ben always knew his name and greeted him personally.

“Holmfirth is as good a place as any to sell heifers. Farm shops and local butchers have seen increased demand for suckler-bred heifers and I’m passionate about supporting livestock markets.

“Our sheep flock runs to around 150 ewes and is a bit of a flying flock as we buy older broken-mouthed ewes from Holmfirth and we try to sneak two crops of lambs out of them.”

Pat Hampshire runs a centre for Riding for the Disabled from the farm and was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list announced in December 2012. It was another plea to Factory Farm 38 years ago and along similar lines to Emley Show’s call that brought about her involvement. Pat’s initial response was the same as her son’s. Her second response mirrored his too.

“We used to run a commercial riding school and one day I received a call from the Riding for the Disabled group in Huddersfield asking whether I could take over as a centre. I was all set to say no. The lady rang back a while later and told me she had rung around other possible sites and if I couldn’t do it there would be nowhere for them to ride.

“I’m reputed to have said ‘Oh all right then’. I’m still doing it now with my daughter Sally and we have 13 horses. It’s been the most stimulating and uplifting experience and we’ve had some amazing riders.

“We had one girl called Emma who never spoke either here or at home. She rode a pony called Percy and her dad would bring bread for a pig we had at the time. One day she came to me and said ‘Pat! Pig!’ Her father filled up with tears and so did I.”

Emley Show takes place next Saturday at Factory Farm.