History | Yesterday Today with Alan McRae

All Ready: The horse drawn wagon has been decorated with colourful materials and numerous flags in readiness for the parade.
All Ready: The horse drawn wagon has been decorated with colourful materials and numerous flags in readiness for the parade.

This week is from the photographic archives of the Bathurst District Historical Society and shows the McGuinnes family ready to head off to a procession in Bathurst.

The horse drawn wagon has been decorated with colourful materials and numerous flags in readiness for the parade. Chairs have been arranged for the adults and children to sit, facing to both sides of the street. There is no indication as to the date but judging by the clothing I would say around 1910 or a little later. It appears that one younger member of the family is part of a brass bands which are invariably part of any procession. All the family are in their best clothes for the occasion.

The eight-hour celebrations were held in Bathurst for many, many years and were most successful in getting both local business and private participation. Each procession involved almost all trades and business houses who often lent their wagons and horses to other smaller businesses to allow them to be represented. Horsemen, cadets and school pupils would march through Bathurst, along with all the horsedrawn and automobiles, to the showground or sportsground, where various sporting events would take place. Prizes were arranged with many local businesses donating trophies, monetary prizes and other items such as watches, crystal glassware, clothing and sporting items.   

One of the eight-hour demonstrations took place in early October 1899 with the sporting events held at the showground in the afternoon where there was the presence of a good attendance. During the day the Bathurst District Band discoursed some excellent music which was enjoyed by all attending. A good deal of delay was occasioned during the afternoon owing to the fact that a certain section of the public persistently encroached on the enclosure, much to the inconvenience of all directly interested in the sports. Those in authority endeavoured to keep them in check, but their efforts, on the whole, were futile.

The judge for sports on the day was Mr. A. Curtis, with referees being Messrs. J. Kelaher and A. B. James, the latter a local aerated cordial manufacturer. The official starter was Mr. W. Wallace. The timekeepers ironically sold watches and time pieces as their business, they being Messrs. L. Winter and T. Willman.

Some of the events contested during the day was a boys and girl’s race, 75 yards, for boys under 14 years, a quoit match with first prize of £1, 10 shillings. A Maiden Bicycle Handicap and an Amateur Handicap of 180 yards was held with the first prize presented by Messrs. E. Webb and Co., with second prize trophy donated by Mr. T. W. Willman and third prize donated by Mr. George Skardon, local shoe and bootmaker. Another prize was an 18-gallon cask of beer.

One novel event was the Fox Terrier Rabbit Coursing Stakes with first prize of £1 15 shilling and proved to be one of the most interesting events of the day, and had the public kept outside the enclosure it would have been even better than it was. The rabbits were, in every instance, strong runners, and the coursing shown warranted the innovation, the idea of which, we learn, emanated from Mr. Charles White, of the Grand Hotel, a gentleman who takes an intense interest in everything pertaining to coursing. Sixteen terriers competed, the stake eventually being annexed by ‘Kruger’, who, strange to relate, beat ‘Chamberlain’ in his heat, which may or may not be taken as a bad omen in regard to the Transvaal’ difficulty.

Members of the public can obtain copies of the Bathurst District Historical Society images for $25 for a 20 x 30cm enlargement which can be ordered and paid for at the Museum in the west wing of Bathurst Court House.  The museum is open every day except Mondays with the best times being between 11am and 2pm.   

- Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society