Archive Cine Film Collection: Volume 3 - Richmond Horse Show and The Fire at Richmond
VHS Colour Silent 1957 11:55
Summary: Amateur film of the Richmond Royal Horse Show in 1957.
Title number: 2773
Description: A workaday record of the annual display of the equestrian arts is enlivened by the disaster of fire. At the Richmond Royal Horse Show a large audience watch a series of events showing off different manifestations of horsemanship. Horse drawn carriages of various designs perform circuits of the show field carrying people dressed in the costumes of their vehicles age. Two and four wheel carriages feature, in set-ups pulled by one or two horses. The informal costume of the carriage riders is in contrast to the uniformed regularity of the Horses Guards who ride in formation rows wearing their distinctive helmets and red and blue attire. The horsepower is increased in another circuit of the ground, this time made by stagecoaches pulled by teams of four horses, some of the coaches roofs are loaded side to side with passengers. More solo riders are in evidence in the form of mounted and red-jacketed huntsmen riding accompanied by their hounds. Mounted police show their control over their horses trotting behind a line of marching colleagues. Equestrian sports also feature with adult riders engaging in show jumping, and younger ones performing in Gymkhana. Around the site people eat at tables both inside the marquees and outside at long tables where uniformed waiters serve them. This genteel atmosphere is shattered by the last sequence of the film, which shows a fire sweeping the stands. Smoke and flames pour out across the showground, while audience members look on in amazement. Firemen and fire engines are already in evidence but appear to struggle in the face of the raging inferno. Spectators increasingly aware of the danger begin to retreat, while staff attempt to clear the tents. Before too long flames have leapt across into the tents, leaving many a smouldering mess. The firemen apply their hoses to the burning buildings, but already there are scenes of devastation, and people looking on in shock.
Keywords: Equestrian sports; Horses; Shows
Locations: United Kingdom; England; London; Richmond upon Thames; Richmond
Geoff Reilly wrote on March 31, 2019:Like Judith McCauley, I was about 9 yrs old and lived round the corner from the show ground. I used…Like Judith McCauley, I was about 9 yrs old and lived round the corner from the show ground. I used to peer through the railings outside Richmond Hospital to watch the events.
After the fire, school friends and I rummaged through the burned out stand. In the ruin, we found a crate of Pepsi bottles and helped ourselves to a few. We opened them on the 'S' shaped wall ties of a cottage near the pedestrian turnstile into the show ground. Happy days!
Judith Macaulay wrote on February 7, 2019:I am fascinated to have found this film, I was nine at the time and have always remembered this…I am fascinated to have found this film, I was nine at the time and have always remembered this experience vividly from having witnessed it from an adjacent stand with my father and younger sister. I had noticed slight smoke for about twenty minutes before the eventual evacuation of the burning stand. Unfortunately my father hadn't taken my insistent observation seriously at the beginning, and I was scolded for not paying attention to the horses in the ring, but he later apologised for having been so dismissal. The fire station was situated just behind us very close to the showground site, and there were later reports locally, that no-one on-site had called them, and that it was only when the firemen themselves smelled and witnessed the smoke themselves that the fire engines raced round to fight the by then, massive fire. Apparently the Queen had left the Royal Box beside, not long before the fire had started in the kitchens beneath the main stand. The Royal Box was burned down, as were many of the small stalls, horse boxes and a majestic tree close by. Very sadly, I think that was the last time that the famous Richmond Royal Horse Show was held in our town.