Success of show that's set to be a good egg
Poultry shows are common but dedicated egg shows are rare and the Craven Poultry Keepers Club, formed just a year ago, and already boasting 200 members, decided to put itself on the map by starting a new one.
They called it The Guineas Show, charged a guinea to enter and found sponsors to offer prizes in guineas – up to 100, for the best egg in show.
And with the help of original Calendar Girls Beryl Bamforth and Chris Clancy turning up to present prizes, it immediately became one of the biggest egg shows in the country, with 560 entries in 42 classes – for ducks and geese as well as more kinds of hen than most of us have ever heard of.
Show secretary Jayne Gillam, who keeps hens at Silsden Moor, said: "Poultry and egg production has always been a tradition in the Craven District, and particularly Airedale. A hundred and fifty years ago, trains stopping at Silsden would be packed with birds going to the big London shows and would regularly come back with the top prizes.
"The perfect egg shape is the best for growing and hatching chicks out of and is actually quite rare. A lot of the eggs you buy are too round or torpedo-shaped or otherwise not quite right. There is a lot of skill involved in getting hens to produce a set which all match in shape and size and colour."
The Best In Show title, and a cheque for 100 guineas, went to a plate of three duck eggs entered by George Taylor, whose family have farmed at Crook, near Kendal, for several generations. He featured in the TV series The Lakes, where it was revealed that he started showing eggs in 1959 and has amassed nearly 20,000 prize cards for his eggs since – including 500 in one year, which got him into the Guinness Book of Records.
Reserve Best in Show and 50 guineas went to Andrew Martin from Preston, Lancs, for six Cream Bantam eggs.
A well-known exhibitor, he has a reputation as a perfectionist and is said to use his engineering knowhow to measure his eggs in all directions to make sure they match.
Chris Parker, president of the Poultry Club of Great Britain, said the new event in the poultry calendar was welcomed and the entry had already put it in the top five egg shows in the UK. However, the north's biggest is over the Pennines, in Preston, at Easter.
See www.cravenpoultrykeepersclub.co.uk or contact Jayne Gillam on 01943 830923.