Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales (RAS)
This collection consists of a curated selection of digitised items related to the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales (RAS) and the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The collection contributes to a wider celebration of the Society’s 200th Anniversary in 2022.
The Agricultural Society of New South Wales was formed in 1822 to promote the future of agriculture through competition, education and events. A key activity of the new society was the organisation of an annual competitive showcase of animals and produce – the Sydney Royal Easter Show, first held in Parramatta in 1823. The show has long been important to the development of stock breeding, the celebration of Australian inventions and products and as a site of commercial exchange and amusement.
The first iteration of the society lapsed in 1834 but regrouped in 1857 as the Cumberland Agricultural Society and then again as the Agricultural Society of New South Wales in 1859. In 1869 the show moved to new grounds in Prince Alfred Park, where it introduced arts and crafts, initiated schools’ competitions, encouraged produce displays and originated the scheme for the International Exhibition in 1879. The society moved to Moore Park in 1882, a site described as ‘a desert of rocks and swamp’.
Financial difficulties and a legal challenge about its right to lease land at Moore Park troubled the society over the next two decades. However, there was increasing public support for the continuation of the show. In 1891 Queen Victoria granted permission for the 'Royal' prefix to be added to the Society's name, so that it became the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales (RAS). By 1901, the RAS was eventually granted the title of the land it had previously leased at Moore Park.
Many of the buildings of the Moore Park Showgrounds are of architectural significance, including the Royal Hall of Industries (1913), the Members' Grandstand (1924) and the Hordern Pavilion (1924). The Art Deco-style Manufacturers Hall and Commemorative Pavilion was built in 1938 to mark the 150th commemoration of the settlement of New South Wales. The Royal Agricultural Society Showground Conservation Area at Moore Park is now listed on the Register of the National Estate in recognition of its significant architectural and historical heritage.
By the 1990s, the facilities at the Moore Park Showground required a major upgrade. RAS relocated its offices and showground to Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, with the first show held in 1998.
The Royal Agricultural Society has grown to become a diverse business incorporating Sydney Showground, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney Royal competitions, the RAS Foundation and the Australasian Animal Registry. As a not-for-profit organisation, RAS is committed to supporting agricultural development and rural communities in Australia by generating revenue through its businesses which is put back into agriculture.
For items related specifically to the Easter Show, see Sydney Royal Easter Show under the Collections heading below. To find more items, use the search tool.
CollectionSpecial CollectionsMoore Park
Letter - Request for fifty loads of rubbish per day for a week for Agricultural Society grounds, 1898
Plan - Commemorative Pavilion display stand, Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Showground, Moore Park, 1964
Plan - Stable hands' sleeping quarters, Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Showground, Moore Park, 1930
Launch ceremony of the HIV/AIDS memorial QUILT project, Royal Hall of Industries Moore Park, circa 1992
HIV/AIDS memorial QUILTs folded prior to opening ceremony, Royal Hall of Industries Moore Park, circa 1992