THE social gains and distinguished history of tea drinking with your companions have long been documented and the much-loved beverage is part of the social fabric of cultures around the world, including the early days of Queensland's burgeoning show scene.
Afternoon teas were always a feature of local shows, such as the Stanthorpe Agricultural Show, and were often served under tarpaulins or in a marquee.
In 1910 in Stanthorpe, it was decided that the hard-working women of the tea tents should have a permanent building, and so the now-iconic tea pavilion was built.
Current chair of the Stanthorpe Showgrounds Heritage Committee Paula Boatfield said get-togethers over a cup of tea in the early days of the show would have looked like "a bustling hive of activity”.
"That's the very reason the show exists, because it acts as a social function to bring everyone together to talk about their woes as well as their wonderful moments from the year,” Mrs Boatfield said.
"To be invited to the official luncheon would have been an honour, and the ladies would have been fussing around the gentlemen and making sure everyone was comfortable.”
She said the shade provided by the first marquees would have been welcome but the tea pavilion - with its high roof structure - would have been a luxury.
"The main aim of the pavilion was to provide refreshments for patrons at the show and to host official functions.
"The thing that makes the tea pavilion special is the parasol structure of the roof support.
"There's only about six buildings in Australia that have this architecture with the high peak roofline and centre peak at the top.”
This year, the historic building will host the Fine Arts Section of the Stanthorpe show, providing a light and airy venue to showcase the work of local artists.
Mrs Boatfield said the building had undergone various upgrades as the centrepiece of one of Queensland's oldest showgrounds.
In 1938 improvements were made by Mrs Scott McLeod as a memorial to her husband, a past president of the Show Society.
It has been documented that Mrs McLeod was never short of helpers in the pavilion.
It was deemed an honour to work with her.
Mrs Boatfield said the pavilion - past and present - had been hired by groups for functions and get-togethers, also providing an income for the Show Society.
"We could have lost it and it could have been demolished,” Mrs Boatfield said.
"But luckily we secured over $60,000 in grants and over the past four years we have been able to do the work needed to save it.”
She said the history and arts committees were planning an information board to display the pavilion's history.
If anyone has information, stories or photographs, call Paula Boatfield on 0428195202 or email email@example.com
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