IF you were a fashionable lady sheepdog trainer in September 1923, there was only one place to be: in York, on Knavesmire.

From September 19-20 that year an international sheepdog trial was held on land we more normally associate with horse racing.

It wasn't perhaps quite as grand as it sounds - the 'international' bit just meant it was open to competitors from Scotland and Wales as well as England.

But, just like York Races, it clearly appealed to a certain kind of fashion-conscious woman, at least judging by our first two photographs.

The York Knavesmire Committee were apparently very keen for the event to be a success, because they hoped to host it every year, instead of just once every three years. Sadly, very heavy rain on the first day kept spectators away - and, because the light faded early, the qualifying rounds couldn't be completed before the day's end.

There was still plenty of competitive sheepdog action possible during the course of the two day event, however. We don't know who won, sadly - but we do know that Corby, who was owned by a Mr SE Batty from Sheffield and who can be seen rounding up sheep in one of our photos, came fourth overall.

There's a bit of a Knavesmire theme running through all the photos on these pages today, which come from Explore York's wonderful Imagine York archive.

In one 1906 photo, horses and jockeys can be seen lined up for the start of a race. And in a stunning photo from 1913, Henri Salmet can be seen standing beside his Bleriot monoplane on Knavesmire during a round-Britain aeroplane tour sponsored by the Daily Mail. M Salmet seems to have been more-or-less in one piece when he arrived in York, though at other points of his tour - which was in the early years of powered aircraft flight - he ran into trouble.

Blinded by sun while landing at Tuckton (between Bournemouth and Christchurch), he ran into a tree. M Salmet suffered a cut, but his passenger Harton Turner was unhurt. He also had problems when he came in to land at Gyllyngvase beach near Falmouth. The Bleriot was fitted with wheels, as can be seen in our photo. These dug into the sand on landing and the aircraft tipped up on its nose. Those magnificent men in their flying machines...

Our final photo shows a party of Victorian gentlemen gathered outside the prison at York Castle. There's no obvious connection with Knavesmire at first glance. But the men were at the site of what had been the 'new drop', or gallows. This had moved to York Castle in 1802 from, you guessed it, the 'Tyburn Tree' on Knavesmire. By the time this photo was taken, however, hanging was no longer considered a suitable public spectacle. The last public execution at the site of the 'new drop' was on February 29, 186. After that, hangings took place more discreetly inside the prison. Not that that would have been much comfort to the poor souls who had a date with the hangman...

Stephen Lewis

All the photos on these pages, and thousands more, are held on Explore York’s Imagine York archive. You can browse it yourself at imagineyork.co.uk/