HISTORY is a funny thing.
Everybody has driven, walked, run or cycled past the Leeton Showground gates on Acacia Avenue without even giving the gates a sideways glance.
But like most things, there is a story attached to them.
The Heritage NSW online database mentions the showground gates stating "the main showground memorial gates constructed of concrete and steel were erected in 1938 in memory of the foresight of show society pioneers".
Armed with that information Bill Aliendi, the current president of the Leeton Show Society and treasurer of the Leeton Showground Land Managerees, set about restoring the gates to their former glory and was successful in obtaining a grant to do so.
With the assistance of his committees and the Rotary Club of Leeton they began the huge task of removing layer upon layer of paint.
About five layers in, they came across the faded painted name of F King and, below that, evidence there had at one stage been lettering which spelled out "president" and "1937".
So, if the gates were constructed in 1938, why was the year 1937 placed on them?
Wagga's Daily Advertiser on the March 16, 1937 reported the Leeton Show Society had been successful in obtaining a grant for 1500 pounds, which was matched by the Show Society to construct a number of things including " ... new fencing and gates along the boundary ..."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Murrumbidgee Irrigator noted on August 13, 1937 a contractor, Mr TH Owen had commenced improvements on the showground including "... massive wrought iron gates at main entrance opposite Kooba Street with ticket boxes".
Remarkably, the Show Society secretary, Mr EC Tweedie commented he expected the works to be completed by October 12 in time for the next Leeton Show.
That gave Mr Owen only two months.
We don't know what hours Mr Owen worked or how in fact he managed to do it, but the Leeton Show went ahead on October 12 and 13, 1937 with the new gates and ticket boxes in place.
Regular show visitors were apparently astonished at what had been achieved, with The Murrumbidgee Irrigator on October 15, 1937 stating "the new entrance and gates, designed by Mr TH Owen, brought forth many complimentary references ..."
This then means the mystery has been solved and Heritage NSW is out by one year and their records should say the gates were constructed in 1937 and not 1938.
But what of the show president in 1937, Mr FR King?
Records show Fredrick Ruddle King was a well-known and prominent member of the Leeton shire.
He was the Show Society president for 23 years from 1922 to 1945, with only ill health preventing him from continuing longer.
He was the manager of the S Richards & Co store for 31 years and only left there because of ailing health.
He was a foundation member of the now defunct Wade Club and had been president for nine years, was a charter member of the Leeton Rotary Club and president of the Leeton Chamber of Commerce.
He was also on the Rice Marketing Board for three years, chairman of the Yanco Ag High School Council and also on the management committee of the Leeton Cannery.
He died in Sydney on September 5, 1950.
Disclaimer: The information found in this article has come from a number of sources. The Leeton Family and Historical Society has taken every measure where possible to ensure accuracy and therefore cannot accept any responsibilities for inaccuracy or omissions.
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