Next month’s LAMMA Show will be the last to be staged at the East of England Showground before moving to a new venue at Birmingham’s NEC complex.

I recall my first visit to the annual show of the Lincs Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Association was in the 1990s: although it had already been running for more than a decade, it was still a relatively modest showcase for kit makers – mainly those based in the eastern counties.

At that time, it extended to little more than a few buildings and a collecting yard, alongside the A1 at the Newark and Notts Showground. Nevertheless, it provided a welcome focus of interest in a relatively quiet month for most farmers in that part of the country, grateful for the chance to preview the latest technology.

To have suggested then that the show might one day need a facility the size of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to accommodate the demand from manufacturers and visitors alike would have been inviting ridicule. But the clamour for exhibitor space continued to grow and visitor numbers kept going up.

So commercially successful did it become that, in 2012, the rights to run the event were acquired by agricultural publisher Briefing Media. Group Head of Events at the company, Elisabeth Mork-Eidem believes the momentum for such a radical relocation had been building for some time. She explains how the impending move to the NEC came about.

“In 2012, Briefing Media bought the Farmers Guardian portfolio from UBM plc. A noticeable absence in the portfolio was an events side and we identified LAMMA as a highly respected brand that we believed we could professionalise and grow from its strong base.

“Since that time, we’ve been constantly reviewing the venue for the LAMMA Show,” Elisabeth continues. “We moved the show from Newark to Peterborough in 2014, as it had clearly outgrown the previous site, and since that successful transition we have very much enjoyed our time at Peterborough and appreciated the facilities there.”

As Briefing Media’s conversations with the NEC – and other venues –  progressed, it became clear that the NEC was itself more than just interested in the prospect of the UK’s largest agricultural exhibition moving to its site. “The industry had been considering the NEC for a while and we’d been in discussions with the AEA and the leading manufacturers over the possibility of relocating there,” Elisabeth adds.

Asked how long the company, as show organiser, is likely to maintain free entry to the show for visitors, she replies: “We believe that LAMMA has a set of values that were established by its founders and we’ve looked to continue that under our stewardship.

“We feel strongly that this encourages people from across the farming community – and across the farm – to come, and helps to provide our exhibitor customers with the widest possible audience for what they are producing. And, while we intend to register all visitors from 2019 onwards, we do not foresee an entry charge.”

Much of the reaction voiced by the farming public since the change of venue was announced has ranged from acknowledgement of the LAMMA show’s commercial significance now, to gratitude that “we won’t have to trudge around in cold, wet Jan weather any more.” The relocation was also a frequent topic of conversation among those attending last month’s Agritechica event in Hannover.

LAMMA’s move to the NEC will put an end to trudging around in cold, wet Jan weather.

So, with the exception of the name, where does all this leave the founding Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Association? “LAMMA was never an ‘association’ as such – rather, it was owned and run by a small group of individuals from across the agricultural industry in that area of the country,” Elisabeth explains.

“Sadly, some of the previous owners have passed away since we took it over, but others are still very much involved, either as exhibitors or as part of the judging process of the LAMMA awards.”

As to any change of direction or emphasis for future shows: “The move to the NEC provides many opportunities for the development of the event. Watch this space!” We will.

David Jones has been writing about farm machinery for the past 15 years, now based near Much Wenlock. Shrops.