Showground Committee member and Herald stalwart Neville Maloney puts the square peg into the round hole to explain the quirks of Bangalow Showground’s historic rotunda.
For many years the misnamed and misshaped building that frames the skyline of the Jarrett Arena (aka the Main Ring) in the Bangalow Showground has stood as a testament to solid concrete construction and utilitarian practicality. A sign on the wall proclaimed Fowler and Taylor, but the building, stubbornly, was simply called ‘The Rotunda’ which patently it is not. The building functioned as an office during the annual Show, and for horse events, and an elevated box top cube was for the announcer, heard through the town when the megaphone speaker system was first installed in 2014. The building almost became a two story multi -unction centre, but thankfully the funds ran out.
This year, though, it has been transformed; half of it (including the box top cube) has gone to landfill, and a new roofline in keeping with the Showground architecture has been built above an extended open space. The remaining interior modernised, spruced up, made safe and ready to function as an office and first-aid centre. But the building will still retain its heritage, the sign proclaiming Fowler & Taylor will still be there, and it will still, against all logic and meaning, continue to be called The Rotunda.
Well, that’s almost true but like most things, there’s a bell ringing somewhere hinting that with a little scratching of the surface you might find a little more to this story.
The old box top cube was, in fact, built in the early 1960’s by the concreting firm owned by Wallace Taylor, who built many of the dairies and pig sties in the district, and Harry Fowler, a builder, completed the job. Harry also built the Poultry Shed on the Showground about the same time. Both Harry and Wallace were members of the Bangalow Show Society.
The Rotunda will be ready for this year’s Show, the first Show since 2019; a two-year hiatus that two world wars, a depression and a previous plague never managed. COVID has been a curse.
The Bangalow Showground Committee manages the Showground, and two members, Toni Appleton, who drew up the plans for the renovations since 2013 until 2021, and Mick O’Meara, who has done much of the building work and managed the current job – have been responsible for the vast improvements.
And about that name. Have a careful look at the picture above. From the very early days, maybe even the very first show, there was a building dragged out into the centre of the large ring and used as the judges and announcers stand, and oh my god! It’s a Rotunda! A real one. Correct shape and all. So, when the time came to replace that temporary structure with a fixed building, that new concrete cube took the name of the original building. So, the Rotunda stays, misnamed but no longer misshapen.