When the new Solway showgrounds were first used for the Masterton show in February 1911, the New Zealand Farmer Stock and Station Journal described them as ‘the latest thing in New Zealand showgrounds’. The grounds abutted the Wellington–Napier railway – visitors could get off at the station, and animals could be easily transported there and kept in holding paddocks. The grounds were also used for stock sales.
Five hundred trees were planted to provide shade and encourage picnicking, and a copper provided boiling water for tea. There was a kitchen, 90 feet (27 metres) long. The show-ring was surrounded by a sloping bank so that every onlooker had a good view. There were 700 sheep pens, 260 cattle pens, 95 covered horse stalls and a large produce hall. Visitors could wander in the native bush where, as the Journal reported, ‘untrammelled by the roar of the boisterous crowds, the gentle hum of the insects and the whispering of spooning pairs may pursue their own course’.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
Cartography by Alfred Pearson Rawson
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