The J. Weldon Power Memorial Gates, dated 1921, are located at the corner of McBryde and McPherson streets of the Horsham Agricultural Showgrounds. Heritage listing to preserve the memorial seems necessary with possible development plans for the area.
Former Horsham historian Ian Maroske tells the story of John Weldon Power in his “History of the Horsham Agricultural Society”.
Weldon Power was born in Ireland in 1863 and arrived in Australia 1887, taking up employment in Horsham with solicitor Alexander James Twigg. On Twigg’s death in 1890, Power set up office in his own name, later taking John Bennett as a partner in the legal business of Power and Bennett, which still operates.
An early Horsham show was at the back of the hospital, and then later at the site now known as Horsham Recreation Reserve. Weldon Power became a committee member of the Agricultural Society in 1897 and President from 1901 until 1915.
He moved to Melbourne to further practice law although he remained a trustee and a member of the committee until his death in 1921. He was instrumental in having the showgrounds transferred to the present site in 1902, following destruction of buildings in a 1897 storm.
His advocacy persuaded the committee to proceed with the transfer and rebuilding, although there was little money to do so, and his plan for the sale of debentures to members and others financed the work.
He is given credit for the quality and extent of the exhibitions in Horsham in the years of his presidency, and Horsham became prominent among agricultural centres. His great interest was horses, of which he was an acknowledged authority.
In 1922, the society committee set about raising funds for a suitable memorial for Weldon Power and to determine the site and form of the memorial, the adjoining iron ticket boxes being a later addition.
The gates were completed in 1924 and officially opened on October 1 1924, the first day of the show of that year.
Agricultural shows in early days had large attendances, as many people were employed in agriculture on farms and township industries. Special trains brought people from Balmoral, Warracknabeal, Yaapeet and Goroke by the 1920s, and in 1925 from Hamilton.
Horsham Historical Society welcomes any stories or photos of past Horsham Shows. firstname.lastname@example.org