TORRENTIAL rain caused havoc at the Royal Highland Show this weekend, with the site at Ingliston reduced to a quagmire and organisers estimating visitor numbers down 15 per cent on previous years.
The smaller crowds, together with the cost of repairing the damage to the showground, could see takings tumble.
Earlier this month, organisers said they were hoping the event would attract more than 180,000 people for the third year in a row. However, yesterday an estimate put the number of visitors at about 150,000.
At £25 a ticket, a crude calculation would estimate that takings would have been down by about £750,000. However, organisers said the actual figure would be substantially lower, pointing out that children and members do not pay an entry fee.
A spokeswoman said: “We are not saying the figure will be zero. We have certainly taken a financial hit, but nowhere near this amount.”
Organisers were forced to shut off car parking areas as vehicles became stuck in the mud. Tractors were on hand to tow vehicles from the showground for free, but show organisers have launched an inquiry after it was discovered that a rogue operator had been charging £8 to rescue vehicles.
The Royal Bank of Scotland offered parking spaces at its Gogarburn headquarters, while Edinburgh Airport bosses allowed use of its short-term parking spaces.
Stephen Hutt, chief executive of the Highland Society, which runs the show, said they were also counting the cost of remedial work on the 120-acre site which took a pounding from the combination of four days of rain and hundreds of vehicles churning up the sodden ground.
However, a spokesman for the Royal Highland Show, Ross Muir, said that despite the weather everyone had enjoyed the event.
“It’s been a challenging show because of the weather, but everyone has pulled together to make it a great success,” he said.
“We would like to thank both RBS and Edinburgh Airport who gave us car parking spaces as we lost some of our parking because it was just too muddy.
“RBS gave us about 1,000 spaces and Edinburgh Airport gave us access to 2,000 spaces in its short-term car parks – they have been excellent neighbours. Despite the difficult conditions, exhibitors at trade stands and the public got on with it and enjoyed the show.”
The heavy rain brought disruption to many parts of the country over the weekend after major rail and road routes were closed.
A 48-hour downpour left the worst hit areas of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Fife swamped by up to three inches of rain and in total 27 ScotRail trains were cancelled and 43 stopped short of their intended destination.
In England, about 500 properties were flooded in Lancashire and West Yorkshire after a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours. Earlier tonight five flood warnings remained in place for parts of northern England, and one flood alert in the south- west.
However, a spokesman from the Met Office said Scotland would not see the rain that caused havoc in England over the weekend. Tomorrow and Tuesday would be warm sunny for most of Scotland, with temperatures reaching about 20C.
“The UK is mainly dry at the moment. That weather front has moved away now,” he said.
“However, that warm spell will break on Wednesday, with heavy rain forecast for most of Scotland on Thursday and Friday.”