Birth of a Show

Because of the improved access, Gidgegannup became more populated as the area was surveyed and lots became available for purchase. To expedite the sales, the developers, The Perth Jarrah Mills, registered the name of its subdivision as Hampstead Hills.

The newcomers provided for themselves and they formed a fairly closeknit community with much in common as living was hard. Some started up small mills, cutting the timbers, not cut out previously, by hand. Some cut in the form of railway sleepers, other for fruit cases. A sleeper hewn by hand using a crosscut saw and an adze for shaping, brought in the princely sum of sixpence in the earlier times, later rising to two shillings and sixpence. (i.e. five and twenty five cents respectively).

Gidge Hall in 1946
Builders of the 1946 Hall   (Source: Hills Gazette, 23/10/1989)

The new residents, being on either side of the main road, took to displaying their produce on a regular basis for sale to the travellers as they passed by, and to one another. Mainly the ladies of the district grew the produce. This, of course, instigated some friendly rivalry, which led to a group who decided to form a Progress Association to hold such events to be sited on the side of the road. This was registered as the Hampstead Hills Progress Association, on the 12th March 1946. Forty eight days later, the Perth Jarrah Mills donated a block of land to the Association on which to hold their Agricultural Shows. This was a great boost to the Association, for soon after an old house was also donated and after it was dismantled and transported to the new grounds, it was modified and re-erected as the Hampstead Hills Hall. A great asset to the growing community.

Opening of First Show in 1946 by Minister of Lands, Mr. Thorn
Opening of the first Show in 1946 by the Minister of Lands, Mr. Thorn

Soon after, it was decided that an Agricultural Society be formed to run the displays and, as the name of Hampstead Hills did not go down too well with the ladies, six of them proceeded to the Nomenclature Committee in the city and had the name changed back to the original Gidgegannup. This society was then registered as the Gidgegannup Agricultural Society. This occurred on the 14th April 1946. The first Gidgegannup Agricultural Show was held on the grounds in 1946 and continues to this day, on the last Saturday of October each year.
growth of a show

Over the years, the hall was modified, expanded, painted, a new sprung dancing floor installed. Then with donations from all directions, the hall was completely rebuilt. The furnishing of the grounds was undertaken with a bar, stockyards, horse shoeing pavilion, fowl pens, external seating. In all, everything needed to stage a large agricultural show, various horse events and every once in a while, a ball in the hall. Square dancing is still popular. With the recent acquisition of extra land our shows will be bigger and better in the future. The Pony Club has regular meetings on the oval.

Visitors at a recent Gidge Show
Visitors at a recent Gidge Show

During the early years it was realised that the Progress Association and the Agricultural Society committees were the same group of people, sitting on different nights. Therefore, it was decided to combine the meetings under the one committee. This was a very successful arrangement until 1990, when the load became too great for the one committee and then they separated and are now operating in their own right. Both Associations are strong and healthy and doing their own thing very successfully. The Agricultural Shows have been improving and becoming bigger and better with each passing year.

(compiled and written by George Beamish)

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