Club History

History of Pembroke Farmers Club

Pembroke Farmers’ Club was formed on the 9th August in 1817 at the Green Dragon Inn in Pembroke. At the time farming was undergoing very hard times, with a depression in agriculture. The years that followed the Napoleonic wars were some of the blackest for British agriculture. The labour market was glutted with discharged soldiers and prices, which had been inflated due to the conflict, fell suddenly to catastrophic levels. Many farms were abandoned and fields were left uncultivated. The year 1817 was two years before Queen Victoria was born and Charles Dickens was 5 years and Charlotte Bronte was 12months old.

The Club was formed by two Pembrokeshire Landlords. Lord Cawdor of Stackpole (John Campbell 1st Baron Cawdor 1753-1821) and Sir John Owen of Orielton.

Lord Cawdor owned the Stackpole Estate which was all of the land south of the stream at Freshwater West to Freshwater East, approx 15,000 acres. He also owned 33,000 acres of the Golden Grove Estate, Carmarthenshire. In 1797 John Campbell was the commander of the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, which defeated Napoleon’s troops at Fishguard in the last invasion of Britain.

Sir John Owen of Orielton Estate, near Pembroke, owned many houses in Pembroke as well as land at Lamphey and Tenby. He was also MP for Pembrokeshire from 1812. He also commanded the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry to suppress the corn Riots at Fishguard in 1827.They were also fortunate to have support from other landlords in the area, namely John Adams of Holyland, John Hensleigh Allen of Cresselly and Henry Leach of Corston.

The Club was formed for ‘the encouragement and improvement of agriculture’. Its policy was to improve cattle breeding, corn growing and especially to encourage the smaller farmers and the farm labourers. They decided to form the Pembroke Farmers’ Club to help their tenants and their workers by offering premiums (prizes) for their stock and workmanship. They also held ploughing matches and shearing competitions. By having such competitions amongst themselves the farmers improved the quality of their stock, their knowledge of new farming methods and they were also introduced to new machinery, particularly that which was used for the drainage and cultivation of the land.

The Campbells of Cawdor gave tremendous support to the Club over many years 1817-1939. The Cawdors of Stackpole were foremost breeders of the famous Castlemartin Black Cattle, and introduced the Suffolk Punch horse to the area. They would often buy very high class bulls and stallions and would be willing to hire these out to their tenants to improve their stock.

The annual show was held in various locations around Pembroke over the years. It was held on the Castle Green in Pembroke Castle between 1850 and 1864. In 1865 it moved to paddocks adjoining Monkton Priory Church. In 1879 and 1880 the Show was held in a field near the Workhouse which was situated in the Green in Pembroke. In 1881 and 1882 it was held near the railway station and in 1883 it moved to the new cattle market which opened in that year. It remained at this site and a field joining the market till 1970, except for one year in 1938. In 1938 it was held in Pembroke Dock at Bierspool Farm near to the site of the present Tesco supermarket. In 1970 it moved to Lamphey where it has remained since, by kind permission of the Phillips Family of Windsor Farm.

Over the years several prize winners at Pembroke have gone on to win national awards in all classes of livestock at other shows. The champion Welsh Ox at Pembroke Show, December 1850, raised by Captain Kindersley of Kilpaison, went on to win the Supreme Championship at Smithfield in December 1851. It took a fortnight to take the animal by bull cart to Smithfield.
Mr W.B. Roberts of Loveston Farm also took a cow to Smithfield Show where it won first prize as the Best Welsh Cow in 1864.

Mr E.J. Griffiths of Herbert’s Moor won the Burke Trophy at the Bath and West Show held in Cardiff in 1955.
Mr J.E. Bennion of Home Farm, Stackpole won the Supreme Champion at the London Dairy Show in 1962.

In August 1902 King Edward V11 and Queen Alexandra visited Pembroke and stayed at Brownslade, Castlemartin. (Lady Victoria Lambton, who was a goddaughter of Queen Victoria, lived at Brownslade).
The rules of 1839 stated that membership should not be less than 10s 6d and not exceed 21s 0d. Every member whose residence was within 10 miles of Pembroke Town was fined 2s 6d for each non-attendance at Club meetings. Pembroke Farmers’ Club, during the war years, helped to raise funds for the Red Cross Agricultural Fund. They held various sales during the war years. One particular sale, which was held on Whit Monday 1944, raised a total of £3150 which was a staggering amount of money for that time.
This glimpse into the history of Pembroke Farmers’ Club is taken from a book compiled by Mr Edward Morris and published in 2017.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the Club the book can be purchased – it’s title is ‘The 200 year History and Heritage of Pembroke Farmers’ Club’. Copies are still available and can be purchased at the annual Town and Country Show or by contacting the Club’s secretary for details of where it can be purchased for £10 plus postage.

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