There are few institutions that can trace their origins to the first years of the Colony and fewer still can claim such a long and distinguished history as The Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia (RASWA). The families who pioneered the State of Western Australia also founded RASWA, which was established in 1831.
In its early years, the Society’s meetings were held monthly at Guildford Inn and were usually attended by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir James Stirling. Later he meeting place became the Woodbridge Hotel. The Society still enjoys the patronage and active support of the Governor of Western Australia.
The First Official Show
On January 3, 1834, at a historic meeting of the Society, it was decided to hold an annual show – this show came to be known as the “Fair and Cattle Show”. The first Fair and Cattle Show was held on November 7, 1834.
According to the Society’s records at that time, the colony’s stock amounted to 307 cows, 96 working cattle, 97 bulls and steers, 3545 sheep, 492 goats and 374 pigs.
The Society Becomes Royalty
In 1890, the Governor advised that the Queen had granted permission for the Society to assume the title of “The Royal Agricultural Society” (RASWA). On 3 August 1904 RASWA became Incorporated.
The Show Moves to Claremont
In 1902, in return for land the Society held in Guildford, the State Government granted RASWA a site of 34 acres (13.7 hectares) in Claremont. An artesian bore was quickly sunk and the site was cleared and levelled at a cost of 13,000 pounds.
The first Show held at Claremont was in 1905, utilising the buildings from the old grounds in Guildford, with a newly erected Exhibition Hall and a bar. Prize money totalled 3,000 pounds and attendance topped 30,000 people. The original area granted to the Society was 34 acres (13.7 hectares) and this was later increased to 52 (21 hectares) and then 75 acres (30.3 hectares).
The shift in location to Claremont in 1905 more than quadrupled the attendance at the Show and the number visiting the Showgrounds for the State’s biggest annual community event has been growing ever since, peaking at over 460,000 people in 1997.
Claremont Speedway Moves In
In 1927, RASWA signed a contract with the Speedway to allow racing at the Showgrounds. This led to the erection of safety fences and lights, as well as the enlargement of the arena to allow the racetrack to equal three laps to a mile. The speedway offices were located in a building which was erected late 1920s.
New Main Arena
The $1.8 million main arena was completed for the 2000 Perth Royal Show, making a big impact on visitors. It provides greatly improved public access and viewing areas, drawing attention to the main arena competitions and entertainment.
A full history is available from the history book “Achievement and Adversity”, Hardcover $40, Softcover $30 from RASWA Reception, Claremont Showground – Phone: 6263 3100.