Celebrating 60 Years At Detling

Last year, the Kent County Agricultural Society celebrated our centenary year! Now, in 2024, the celebrations continue. This year marks 60 years that we have called the Detling Showground home! Join us as we take a look at how the site on Detling Hill has transformed over the years, from a disused airfield to a Showground for the whole county to enjoy.

In the early days of the Kent County Show, our annual flagship event had no permanent home. Instead, the show moved locations each year! Following the success of the first event, which took place in Wombwell Hall Park in Gravesend, successive shows were hosted in Ashford, Maidstone, Margate, Sevenoaks, Folkestone and Canterbury.

By 1947, returning after a break during World War 2, the Show found a longer term site in Mote Park, Maidstone. Mote Park continued to host the Show each year, until a particularly wet July in 1960 led to the decision by the Kent County Agricultural Society’s Board of Directors to begin the search for a permanent home, to allow for infrastructure to be put in place for wetter weather.

After 3 years of searching, the Kent County Agricultural Society finally acquired the land at Murrain Place and Ten Acres in Detling, part of the former RAF Detling base, to form the Kent County Show’s new site. Work quickly began to get the site show ready and, sure enough, in 1964 Princess Alexandra declared the new Kent Showground open!

The Detling Years

In the 60 years since the official opening of the Kent Showground, our site has undergone an incredible transformation! With the 1960 show still fresh in the minds of the Kent County Agricultural Society’s team at the time, paved roadways around the showground were one of the first features to be added to the new Showground, ensuring the site could cope with the challenges of British weather!

Permanent structures added to the site over the years, including the Alan Day House (now our Show Office) and Doubleday House allowed for the day to day running of the site, whilst the former Lord Cornwallis Building was opened in 1983 to house cattle during the annual Show.

In 1991, the Kent Event Centre was formed by the Society to lease the Showground for external events, providing funding for the running of the Kent County Show and the Society’s other charitable objectives.

With this fresh use of the Showground came the need to further develop the site, with 2004 seeing the opening of the Kent Pavilion (now the Maidstone Exhibition Hall) and 2011 seeing the Lord Cornwallis Building undergo a massive transformation into the Clive Emson Conference Centre.

Now, in our 60th year here at Detling, the team behind the Kent County Agricultural Society are proud to look back on the hard work undertaken by our predecessors to provide a secure home for the Kent County Show and to open up new opportunities for the site! To learn more about the spaces available to hire at the Showground, head to the Kent Event Centre website here.