Until just over ten years ago, no season in Harrow would be complete without the annual Harrow Show, an event eagerly anticipated and attended by over twelve thousand of the borough’s residents.
A large, annual two day event which was traditionally held over the August Bank Holiday, The Harrow Show brought together members of the community in the (with a bit of luck) August sunshine and provided wholesome family fun in Harrow’s Headstone Manor.
Yearly attractions at the show included a funfair, traditional entertainments, competitions and even a dog show for Harrow’s canine appreciators. The event also afforded charities a much needed opportunity to raise cash for essential causes both local and worldwide.
The Harrow Show, which began in 1961 was organised entirely by volunteers who contributed their time and skills to showcasing the best that Harrow had to offer in a fun and action packed event. The show always offered special guests and a touch of wow factor as well as bringing the community together and, the 44th show on the weekend of August 29th and 30th 2004 was no exception as it was attended by the then Mayor of Harrow, Lurline Champagnie who, at the time, was fundraising for the renovation of West House in Pinner’s Memorial Park. Another notable feature of the 2004 show was a raffle which saw one lucky guest win Lord Lichfield’s Jaguar XK Coupe which was donated by the peer and organised by the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club The proceeds went to the wonderful Norman Laud Association which provides nursery facilities and respite care for children with special needs and, he raffle resulted in the purchase of two specialised mini-buses which were donated to the centre to enable staff to take children on trips. Other events included the jazz band La Band a Donff, from Bordeaux, a six-piece ensemble with a brass section, electric guitar and drums, Impact Falconry, a display by some of the largest birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures, and the Over the Top motorbike display team, performing high jumps, fire stunts and wheelies.
Special guests and a great cause provided a fitting finale to what would be the last ever Harrow Show due to the volunteer organisers no longer being able to source the funds and manpower for the following year. Before the final show, the late Keith Chilvers, the show’s entertainment officer and long time volunteer with Radio Northwick Park and Radio Harrow, said: “I’ve never said this before a show, but I’m convinced that this year could be the best year ever. A bold statement I know, but I just feel that we have got the right combination.” A prediction which turned out to be particularly poignant as the 2004 show was, sadly, the last.
Although Harrow is never short of entertainment – other annual events include The Harrow In Leaf Show and Pinner’s St George’s Festival – it is felt by many that the loss of The Harrow Show signalled the end of an era in a borough proud of its sense of community spirit. Calls to reinstate the show are always well received by the public, particularly those with fond memories of the event from years gone by but, the question remains regarding funding and organisation. It is suggested that we look toward organisations such as Keith Chilver’s beloved Radio Harrow to help with fundraising activities and recruit volunteers or, even, crowdfunding sites such as SpaceHive which played a part in saving the Harrow Arts Centre.
In a time where community is needed more than ever, many feel that the time is right to reinstate this vital and fun part of Harrow’s annual calendar.
By Nicci Rae