2019 RAHS Conference

Media Release

Royal Australian Historical Society Conference Illuminating the Past West Tamworth League Club 14 – 15 September 2019

On 9 November 1888, Tamworth became the first city in Australia to have its streets lit by electric streetlights. Elizabeth Piper, the wife of Mayor James Piper, turned the power on with a golden key and Tamworth’s residents saw 52 electrical lights illuminate twenty-one kilometres of their city’s streets. The celebrations included another historical event – the heats and finals of a 130-yard running race which took place under the glow of four giant arc lights, making it the first outdoor athletics event to be held under electric lights.

It is therefore fitting that Tamworth is the location of the 2019 RAHS Conference as our theme this year is Illuminating the Past. Our speakers will explore topics that look at what different historical records reveal about our past; how do we share our history with new audiences in an enlightening and informative way; what must we do to protect and share historical sources so that the vivid insights they provide don’t disappear into darkness. RAHS President, Christine Yeats, explains that both local participants and those who travel from across the state will enjoy ‘a mix of talks with a focus on practical how-to explanations that will inspire those interested in participating in local and community history projects’.

Tamworth Historical Society members will be spotlighting Tamworth’s history in a number of presentations and tours. ‘Tamworth has a rich history that is unique and this provides a variety of places to see and experience,’ says Jennifer Porter, Tamworth Historical Society President. ‘The Australian Agricultural Company played an important role in developing the city of Tamworth and surrounds. Calala Cottage was built for Philip Gidley King who was the superintendent of Peel River Land and Mineral Company and the first mayor of Tamworth. It is now a museum complex which showcases the influence of the A.A. Company and displays items of interest relevant to the history of Tamworth. In 1888 Tamworth became the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to have its streets lit by electricity from a municipally owned powerhouse. The city is well known for many types of music including the internationally recognised Country Music Festival held in January each year. Tamworth has something to offer all members of the family making it a great destination for a holiday’.

As well as Tamworth’s history, the program features fascinating topics on the UNESCO Memory of the World project; managing local community and family collections; using Historical Land Records Viewer (HLRV) – an online tool that you can use to explore parish and historical maps; early cinema and travelling picture showmen; and the impact of electricity on domestic and family life. Professor Martin Gibbs, whose research interests are in the historical and maritime archaeologies of the Australia- Pacific region, will be delivering the conference Lesley Muir keynote address.

The RAHS conference is also an opportunity to honour achievements in local and community history, with presentations of history and heritage grants, as well as the RAHS Certificates of Achievement and Appreciation, which recognise the invaluable contribution made by individuals to historical societies throughout NSW.

For more information and to book online https://www.rahs.org.au/2019-rahs-conference/ For media enquiries contact RAHS General Manager, Suzanne Holohan by email at executive@rahs.org.au or call History House on (02) 9247 8001.

Tamworth Historical Society will host a Welcome Reception for Conference delegates at Calala Cottage Museum on Friday 13 September 5.30 to 7.00pm.

Join us for drinks and a tour around the museum.

Some of the highlights and activities our society is organising during the Conference are featured below.

If you would like more information please telephone 6765 7492 or email tamworthhistorical@bigpond.com 

The full Conference program can be viewed and downloaded on the RAHS website https://www.rahs.org.au/2019-rahs-conference/

Walking Tour:  The Changing Face of Peel Street – Saturday 14 September 3.15 pm to 5.00pm Cost $15

Led by Tamworth Historical Society Life Member, Rod Hobbs, walk along what is now the main street of Tamworth, looking at significant buildings and hearing about some of the characters who built this city.

Excursion: Goonoo Goonoo Station – Monday 16 September (Details TBC)

The Society is currently taking expressions of interest for an excursion to Goonoo Goonoo Station. Details are yet to be confirmed and whether or not the excursion will go ahead will depend on the number of interested participants.

Goonoo Goonoo Station houses one of the oldest pastoral settlements in the Peel Valley. The site is associated with a number of prominent settlers and was once a headquarters for the Australian Agricultural Company.

Bus Tour Tamworth Perspectives:  Past, Present and Future 3.15 pm to 5.00 pm Cost $25

This Conference Coach Tour will have much to offer. With a strong local history theme, it will be complemented by a diverse look at the progressive city of Tamworth. The tour will include visits to the Power Station Museum, the site of where the first municipal electric street lighting in Australia originated (fourteen years before Sydney); the Australian Equine Centre (sometimes referred to as ‘The Opera House of the North’); and also the Oxley Lookout, which gives a great overview of the city and the Peel Valley.

Your tour guide will be Mike Cashman, a Life Member of Tamworth Historical Society.