Dramatic pageant celebrates 100 eventful years of Norfolk farming
PUBLISHED: 11:21 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 27 June 2019
Angela Sharpe Photography 2018
The tumultuous last century of war, political upheaval and technological advancement which shaped the county's farming industry was celebrated with a colourful pageant at the Royal Norfolk Show.
The Farming Forever display in the Grand Ring marked two special agricultural anniversaries - the centenary of the Norfolk branch of National Farmers' Union (NFU) and the 75th anniversary of the county's Young Farmers' Club (YFC).
Volunteers from both organisations were among the 250-strong cast taking part in the 30-minute pageant, which recreated significant moments from the last 100 years.
They included the farmworkers' strike of 1923, when up to 20,000 Norfolk placard-waving farmers fought for their livelihoods when the government broke its promise to protect the price of grain after the First world War - a so-called "great betrayal" which meant corn prices fell by 60pc in just a few weeks.
By the time the Second World War broke out, Britain was reliant on convoys of imported food from America. To help the war effort, Norfolk NFU raised £5,000 to fund a Spitfire, which was represented at the pageant with a model made by North Walsham YFC.
The pageant also explored growth of Norfolk's staple sugar beet industry, the value of grazing cattle to the Broads, and the national significance of the county's poultry and pig sectors - signified by a giant mechanical chicken and motorised pig, made by Harleston and Diss Young Farmers' Clubs.
The commentary led by BBC Farming Today's Anna Hill discussed how yields have been boosted by plant breeding, and how technology has evolved from heavy horses to satellite-guided precision machinery. It also looked ahead to a future of robotic tractors, hydroponics and vertical farming.
NFU Norfolk county chairman Nick Deane said: "The Grand Ring is an exciting arena to display the progress farming has made over the past 100 years and the role the NFU and YFC have played in helping to drive our industry forward.
"As part of our work on the pageant, it's also been really interesting to reflect on what the next 100 years might hold.
"We can only guess about the challenges and opportunities ahead but both organisations are in good shape and ready to face them. I'm convinced they will still be around 100 years from now."
Former EDP agricultural editor Michael Pollitt helped develop the display and the artistic director was former Norfolk YFC member Meryl Raines.