The Royal Bath & West of England Show originated In 1777, when several gentlemen met at the City of Bath and formed a Society for the encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Its aim was to promote the good of the community by the encouragement of industry and ingenuity.
Following decline in the mid 19th century, it was revived in 1849 and merged with the Devon Agricultural Society in 1851. By then there was also an annual show in King's Mead Square, Bath. A key aspect of the revival was the move to take the Annual Show away from Bath and hold it in a different town, combining it with a show of machinery and livestock. Thus, it came to Pottington in Barnstaple in 1859.
Thanks to Terry Priscott for posting this photograph on Facebook and Michael Essery for supplying the date.
A short history of the Royal Bath and West of England Society can be found at http://www.bathandwest.com/history/41/.
Another view of the Show can be seen by following this link: