Text: Karen Agutter
Images: MLDHS Chardon Family Collection
This photograph shows men working on the construction of the Stirling Oval in 1935/36. The men are using a temporary railway line which was built specifically to facilitate the movement of dirt and materials.
The stepped viewing area that is evident here was built into the side of the hill above the oval, under the guidance of the Stirling Centenary Oval Reconstruction Committee. These steps were constructed to lead from the oval to the proposed grandstand and were opened on Saturday 22 February 1936 by Sir George Ritchie MP. The Mount Barker Courier, reporting on the opening ceremony, stated that the construction of the oval steps would make the facility ‘one of the finest, if not the finest of country ovals in the Commonwealth’ (27 February 1936 p. 2). The oval itself was officially opened in February 1937.
The 4 ½ acres on which the oval was built had been donated by Messrs J and AG Johnston and the original plans included a picnic reserve, children’s playground and car park. The construction received a Centenary Grant of £110 which stipulated the engagement of unemployed labour. Construction was also heavily dependent on a substantial community effort and locals raised funds, volunteered their time and labour, and donated building materials
Following the opening ceremony the committee continued with the next stage of its plans which included the construction of a grand entrance. See the plan/illustration in The Mount Barker Courier, 25 Jun 1936, p. 1 available at click this link
Further reading: Stirling: a personal view by Chris Chardon available at the MLDHS archives where you will also be able to view other information and photographs on the construction of the Stirling Centenary Oval and of sporting and other events held at the ground.
We would love to hear your stories, your memories of playing sport or attending other events on the Stirling Oval. Contact us at email@example.com or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.