A brief history of Towers Pastoral Agricultural and Mining Association Inc.
1880 – and Charters Towers had grown from a brawling mining camp to a prosperous city of some 30.000 people.
A group of the more influential citizens decided that the time had come to showcase the district’s variety and versatility of produce and activities – and the decision was made that a committee be formed to facilitate the staging of an Annual Agricultural Exhibition. Streets around the city bear the names of most of the meeting’s attendants and first committee. Land was selected and surveyed and the lease stated that ” held by the Towers Pastoral Agricultural & Mining Association for special use as a showground” – with the Council as trustee.
On November 10th 1880 the new Association’s rules were read and adopted.
1881 – After much preparation the first Exhibition was held after heavy rain had held up the building of yards pens and sheds.
The President was Mr. Selheim. The Northern Miner newspaper at that time was edited by Thaddeus O’Kane and he gave the venture much publicity. – but after the event was sorely put out and vocal about the fact that no free passes had been allocated to him for the Exhibition! Townsville’s show had been inaugurated in 1876 so the committee took advantage of their few year’s experience – seeking their advice. A schedule was drawn up – and it will be a surprise to you to know that there were classes for handmade mining tools as well horse drawn vehicles One of which grandly and condescendingly stated that ” Townsvillians may compete” !
Sections for dairy butter – tobacco – cotton – corn – potatoes – sewing – crochet – cattle – horses both led and ridden – pigs -and dogs. Gold silver and bronze medallions were awarded – as well as money. The railway did not arrive in the Towers until December 1882 – so all competitors and attending crowd arrived by horse drawn vehicle.
In 1941, the grounds were taken over by the Australian Army – with the stables being used for the horses that pulled the wagons collecting supplies for both them and the camps at Macrossan being stabled there.
Startling to know that in that day and age mechanised transport was not universal. There appeared to be constant friction between the committee [which duly met with an annual general meeting and elections each year] and the Army Captain in charge with one big bone of contention the soldiers’ habit of pulling down the wooden fence and seats for firewood ! Some private citizens staged mini show on their own properties during that time when the grounds were not available – Mr. “Pop” Whalen being one .
The first post war show was held in 1946. The old rodeo chutes were where the bar is now. A big attraction in later years was the Gallagher brothers sitting back to back bucking out on a bull ! Superb rough riders were plentiful and any rodeos held drew big crowds.
In 1950, a cycling track was created around the perimeter of the ring – with trotting horses racing there every Saturday as well.
At that time both racing gigs and ridden horses competed in the same events. As the years progressed the Show’s format developed to a rodeo – after that a campdraft – a Show Ball at night and three days Equestrian competition. A full sideshow alley and competition in all sections enticed the public to attend – although pigs were dropped from the schedule ! In latter years both the rodeo and campdraft have been able to use Council built facilities and the chutes have been removed from the showgrounds.
Cycling has its own track now and the one around the perimeter of the ring has been removed. Trotting no longer a sport in the north unfortunately.
Committees over the years made big improvements to the grounds – New stallion Stables – Large dining hall – new toilet blocks – a big poultry pavilion – lighting and other things that added to the comfort of both the public and competitors.
In latter years, the grounds passed from the T.P.A. & M. Ass Inc. Committe to the Charters Towers Regional Council.
So there you have it – a potted history ! lots more funny things to relate but space is limited.
Help us keep the Show going – please give us a little of your time as a volunteer ! We promise to feed and water you !