30 JULY 1948, Page 15



Sta,—Mr. Walston's reflections on the Royal Show at York seem to do less than justice to the organisers and exhibitors. If it were true as he suggests that the century-old Royal Agricultural Society of England is concerned " to attract every year a greater number of exhibitors and to build up an ever-increasing bank balance " it would indeed be, as he adds, a " disquieting and dangerous state of affairs." In fact nothing is further from the truth. The Society's aim remains what it has been throughout its long history, to render service to British agriculture through " practice with science."

I cannot discuss Mr. Walston's submissions in detail. He is of course entitled to question whether the show really does cater for the farmer, and whether stock-owners prefer one-day shows to the event that he himself is generous enough to admit is the leading agricultural exhibition in the world. Many would agree—including the organisers—that there are aspects of the show both as regards policy and detail that need to be improved (when conditions allow) ; but Mr. Walston is, I think, wide of the mark when he asserts that there is little in the way of machinery to be seen at the Royal that cannot be seen at a local show ; that implement manufacturers (who go to considerable expense to provide interesting and educational exhibits) are so inept as to leave their products in charge of gentlemen with " impeccable manners, but with no knowledge of the mechanism of the implements." There will, of course, be exceptions, but nobody who knows the show will -accept seriously such a generalisation.

The Society is particularly anxious to avoid the deadly inertia bred from complacency. It welcomes suggestions and even criticisms if they are justified and constructive. The Royal is no longer national ; it is international in character, and as such must, as Mr. Walston implies, keep abreast of opinion and requirements. To that end it would have been helpful if he could have added some proposals to his rather chilly comments. To each one of these a fair answer could, I believe, be given. What follows must inevitably be a bare outline: 1. The Show, by its very character, caters for all sections of the community, while remaining the shop-window of Britain's implement and machinery manufacturers and its incomparable breeders of pedigree livestock. 2. "Until last year the show extended to five days. The reduction to four days has been criticised, but it has saved stockmen from being away from home two week-ends. To reduce further the period of the show would probably meet with serious opposition and would inevitably endanger the character of the show. 3. The Society is opposed to the practice of large canvas covers being placed across the stalls and will use powers to prevent this undesirable practice. 4. Overseas visitors, for whose comfort and con- venience the Society provided special accommodation, would almost certainly disagree with the implication that their visit was not worth while. There is. overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I cannot trespass more on your space, except to express regret that Mr. Walston did not refer to the invaluable educational section of the show, to the displays of rural craftsmanship, to the inspiring competitions of Young Farmers from seven countries, to the farriery, welding, and other competitions ; to the bee section—and so on. He seems either to have seen too little or to have failed to enjoy what he did see.—Yours