Having seen articles in the Gunnedah Times by Tom Fearby and others regarding the sheep pavilion at the Gunnedah Showground, I thought it was time to have my say being a life member, past president and long term chief steward of the sheep section of the Gunnedah Show Society.
The knowledge passed to me by my father was that the shed was built in the 1930s by voluntary labour as most structures on the showground have been.
The name he mentioned was Clyde Muir and the Muir family, sheep farmers from the Mullaley area being the force behind its construction.
The judging area was donated by John Elsley, a sheep breeder from Curlewis.
For many years it was a venue for some well-known district and northern sheep to compete and was often stated that a win in Gunnedah was as good as a win at the Sydney Sheep Show.
This can be shown by a photograph still on the showground of the Grand Champion Merino Ewe at the 1953 Sydney Sheep Show exhibited by Mr FF McClung of “Winbri”, Gunnedah.
The shed was maintained by the show society and volunteer stewards through the 1960s when my father was chief steward and myself and other willing stewards in the 1980s.
It was around 1990 that council decided that the sheep shed along with the poultry shed be demolished to make room for the basketball stadium, a move opposed by myself and other members of the show society.
The council built a new shed on the other side of the showground that was not suitable for a livestock pavilion because of lack of ventilation and air circulation.
The poultry section has since made modifications to make their end better.
The sheep exhibitors and stewards refused to relocate to the new building, so the sheep shed survived, only losing a few pens on one end to the basketball stadium.
In the 1980s we could fill all the pens.
I recall penning more than 150 sheep in the shed on many occasions, but as years passed, feeding and preparing sheep for shows became very expensive and only the major studs continued to prepare sheep for the major show venues and exhibiting in country shows was much reduced along with the passing of several long-time exhibitors and retirement of others.
Numbers fell to low levels.
Recovery came in the 2000s with schools competing in the meat breeds along with local studs. Schools are now the backbone of exhibitors and should be encouraged as sheep are easy to handle and provide a good background to the livestock industry.
As for the building, it has always had an issue with termites, like other buildings on the showground, however, because of the timber used in the construction of the building it has never caused any real damage.
This and other problems could be rectified. If the community wants to retain the shed I would support them, although I am basically contributing to outline the history of this building in which I have exhibited sheep for more than 30 years and have spent many enjoyable shows there.