Visitor numbers at the opening day of the last ever Royal Show were slightly up on last year, but still dwarfed by the heyday of the famous event.
Despite heavy rain and dark skies, 25,900 turned out for the celebration of rural life which will end for the final time tomorrow and bring 170 years of tradition to an end.
Last year’s opening day witnessed a gate of 24,000 people who braved similar weather.
A regal touch was also missing at the start of the farewell show with no members of the Royal family in attendance, although HRH the Duke of Kent, Prince Edward, is expected later in the week.
The glory years of the show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire saw up to 250,000 farmers and country folk flocking through the gates and cheering as the Queen arrived in a horse drawn carriage.
Denis Chamberlain, marketing director for organisers the Royal Agricultural Society of England (Rase), said last night: “Tuesday was couple of thousand up on last year despite the weather which was probably slightly worse and looking around today there’s probably a similar number but we won’t know the full figures until tomorrow.”
Mr Chamberlain said earlier in the week that failure to make changes to the way the Royal Show was presented had left the Rase with a dilemma of scrapping it or continuing to subsidise its £200,000-a-year losses.
Rase is now planning Stoneleigh’s future without the show and hopes to incorporate elements in to a series of smaller livestock based events throughout the year.
It is also hoped the 250-acre park can become a “centre for rural excellence” by remaining home to breed associations and the Nations Farmers Union, as well as creating an education centre.
But plans to create a link road to the site have been hampered by a two-year government moratorium on highways developments.
“The education centre will welcome 8,000 schoolchildren a year,” said Mr Chamberlain.