Retro: Motor show and gala was a popular part of city calendar

Once upon a time, The Star was one of the driving forces behind a huge city motor show that attracted tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Monday, 23rd January 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd January 2017, 4:02 pm
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield Picture shows competitors in the Miss Motor Show contest standing in the rain.... 18th July 1981

Sheffield Motor Show and Family Gala was a popular event in the city calendar from the 1970s to 1990s.

The Star sponsored the show, which was organised by the Sheffield Group of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Lions Club.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 9 June 1991 Mr Don Fairey and his son Ian, aged 10, of Little Norton Lane, Sheffield, pictured inspecting the engine of a Jaguar XJS V12 on show by Hatfields of Sharrow Lane, Sheffield

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The paper’s long-standing motoring correspondent Leslie Driver (real name Bernard Smith) and his colleague Janet Dunkley were heavily involved.

The show moved venues from Graves Park and Norfolk Park to Common Lane Meadows between Bents Green and Fulwood in 1979 and eventually back to Graves Park.

In 1982, a Chevy Ten Super Pad luxury mobile home worth £15,000 was auctioned off in aid of the Lord Mayor’s HMS Sheffield Fund.

That year also featured a five-a-side football competition and the Sheffield Driver of the Year contest.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Children's Fancy Dress

That had been running for 18 years at that point.

The contest leader going into the show was 17-year-old Robert Shearing from Worksop, who had only passed his driving test three weeks before.

The show featured many driving and motorbike display teams.

In 1986, the Red Arrows had to cancel because they couldn’t fly low over the dual carriageway near Graves Park but a Spitfire and a Hurricane were booked to perform manoeuvres over the showground.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1986 Tony Ward in a TR5 motor car

That year was due to be an aerial spectacular, with appearances by Britain’s top stunt pilot of the day, Brian Lecomber, in his biplane, the Save the Children Fund Skydivers and two planes performing a Ballet in the Sky.

The stunt plane actually landed on The Moor to promote the show.

But unfortunately big storms washed the whole show out and only the air ballet took place, watched by just five show marshals because no-one could contact them to cancel.

The whole park became a mudbath, despite the heroic efforts of the council recreation department, and the first day had to be abandoned.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Mounted Police display

Tearful fancy dress contestants had to be consoled with free drinks in the DC Cook marquee and eventually the little ones got to show off their costumes in another marquee.

Of course, there were plenty of reports in the paper over the years of Sheffielders refusing to let the rain or gales ruin their day, or of basking in the sunshine on good years.

The event regularly pulled in as many as 70,000 visitors.

In 1989, visitors could marvel over the latest car phones and in 1991 the event was declared the biggest one-day free show in Britain.

In 1990, new cars on display ranged from the cheapest new car of the day, the £2,999 Yugo Tempo hatchback, to the Alfa Romeo SZ Coupe that cost a stunning £100,000.

There were also displays of motorbikes and motorhomes.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Car of the show under £6,000 - pictured Samantha Dunkley

By 1992, the motor show had grown to 70 stands with scores of new cars on display by major city dealers.

The latest models were driven in cavalcade around a show ring and visitors could pick their favourite.

In the gala, Boxers Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham and Johnny Nelson competed in a 20-team It’s a Knockout competition in aid of the NSPCC and 50 beauty queen contestants took to the catwalk to vie for the Miss Motor Show crown.

Junior Star readers competed in a fancy dress competition with Thornton’s sweet and gifts of £1 for the contestants. In 1991, 100 youngsters got dressed up.

Oughtibridge Brass Band also entertained the crowds that year.

Over the years a whole host of marching bands, majorettes and display teams appeared.

Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala - 1986 Graves Park, Sheffield
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 9 June 1991 Mr Don Fairey and his son Ian, aged 10, of Little Norton Lane, Sheffield, pictured inspecting the engine of a Jaguar XJS V12 on show by Hatfields of Sharrow Lane, Sheffield
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Children's Fancy Dress
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1986 Tony Ward in a TR5 motor car
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Mounted Police display
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala Graves Park, Sheffield - 1989 Car of the show under £6,000 - pictured Samantha Dunkley
Sheffield Motor Show & Family Gala - 1986 Graves Park, Sheffield