(August 1966).   by “POPPA”   HOWARD DAVIES

(Saved as:”RANDSHOW without Pics.doc”)





It is simply amazing how enormous projects grow out of tiny insignificant beginnings. THE RAND EASTER SHOW is a typical example of this, and reads almost like a Fairy Tale!! , , , ,, , Let me elaborate , , , , , , , , , ,



Once upon a time  (ha ha !!) , , , , ,during a Council meeting of the Association of  Supervising Electrical Engineers of South Africa (I was Chairman at the time) we were debating how to increase our membership, and it was suggested that we try and sponsor an Electrical Exhibition and have a ‘Stall’ where we could do all the necessary advertising. By an amazing coincidence, a Promotion Agency was starting off the ELECTRA EXHIBITION just then, having procured just one hall at the Milner Park Agricultural Showground in Braamfontein, Johannesburg for this purpose.

A Mr. Norman Pinker who ran this Promotions Agency, (and who was a real ‘Fire Brand’) was the man who actually did all the negotiating with the ‘Powers That Be’ .and really got the ‘Show on the Road’ (pun intended!!).




Up until 1965 this Showground had only been used for the Annual Easter Show of the South African Agricultural Society (founded in 1894) where they showed off Cattle and Farming Equipment etc: (So this is why the Rand Show is always held each Easter!!) , , ,  , , , (You live and learn, Hey Wot!!)

To cut a long story short, we worked like crazy trying to persuade Electrical Companies to exhibit in this hall in order to make themselves better known and to promote their sales etc:. And we had our own Stall at the ‘Place of Honour’ (thanks toNorman) at the main entrance to the hall.


OUR  FIRST  ”BIG  LAUNCH”  However, we decided to give it A REALLY  BIG LAUNCH the following year which was held from 25th. to 31st  August.1966.. We again had our own A.S.E.E. stall at the entrance to the hall where write-ups were handed out giving details of the Association and inviting Electrical Engineers who had come to see the Exhibition to join the Association..(Some Engineers actually joined then and there!).

We invited Dr. H.G. MONNIG, the Scientific Advisor to the South African Prime Minister to officially open the Exhibition. (Which he duly did and he made a splendid and very appropriate Speech).

We also invited the most prominent Engineers we could think of as Guests of Honour to give everything a really good send off.  I still have a large glossy photograph of our stall and also a FULL PAGE devoted to ELECTRA in ‘THE STAR’  Newspaper dated 25 August 1966 (together with my captioned picture as Chairman of the Association’ !!)




OUR OWN  A.S.E.E. AUDITORIUM AND  A BIG ‘SYMPOSIUM ’Needless to say, our 1966 was a huge success and the following year (1967) we even had our own A.S.E.E. Auditorium where we held a  big Symposium entitled “Electrical Safety in the Home”. This was chaired by Mr. A. .A.  Middlecote, a Director in the S.A Bureau of Standards.  On the “Panel” were Mr. J.L. Whitwell also of the S.A. B. S, .Mr. L.B. Cumming, Head of the Consumers’ Branch of the JHB Electricity Dept,  Mr. F. Stern, Sales Director  of a large firm of Domestic Appliances and Mr. L. Thorpe, Regional Manager  of  the National Occupational Safety Association.

THE SUBSEQUENT YEARS: THE EXHIBITION TAKES OFF LIKE A ROCKET!!      During the following subsequent years more halls were negotiated as, now, very many Electrical firms became extremely  keen to participate. Eventually, firms other than those in the electrical industry wanted to ‘climb on the bandwagon’, and the name was changed from  “ELECTRA”  to “THE RAND EASTER SHOW”


THE WHOLE ‘CABOODLE’  MOVES OUT  TO “THE RAND SHOW GROUND” SOUTH OF THE CITY IN 1985                                       Subsequently, the whole thing took off like a rocket until it turned into the mammoth event that it is today. Finally, in 1985, ‘the whole caboodle’ was moved out in the south of Johannesburg to be finally called “The Rand Show Ground”.




SUMMARY                                                                                                                               For anyone who wishes to dispute any of the foregoing, here is a brief Summary of the actual facts:-

FACT: 1  The S. A. Agricultural Society was founded in 1894 and up until the early1960’s they only exhibited Cattle and Farming Equipment :at Milner Park, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

FACT: 2  In the early 1960’s  The ELECTRA EXHIBITION sponsored by The Association of Supervising Electrical Engineers procured one hall from the foregoing where only  Electrical Products were displayed..

FACT: 3 The ELECTRA EXHIBITION was officially opened by Dr. H.G. MONNIG, the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister in August 1966.

FACT: 4  In 1967 The A.S.E.E. was given its own Auditorium where it held a

big Symposium that centered on Public Safety in the Home..

 FACT: 5 Towards the end of the 1960’s  more halls were procured and the  Exhibition was thrown open to firms other than Electrical ones.

FACT: 6  The name ELECTRA” therefore became a misnomer, and during the 1970’s its name was changed to  “THERAND EASTER SHOW”

FACT: 7 The Rand Easter Show became so big that it became unmanageable at Milner Park, and, in 1985, a huge piece of ground was secured in the Southern part of the City, henceforth to be known as “THE RAND SHOW-GROUNDS”

All the foregoing facts can be easily verified.



It is amazing, when I look back and see, in my mind’s eye, such a simple beginning, namely, a dozen or so of us insignificant ‘Electrical Chaps’ at one of our monthly meetings and someone (it wasn’t me, or I certainly would have remembered!!) saying  “How about us sponsoring an Electrical Exhibition ?  Perhaps we can possibly attract some new blood into our organisation in some way” . At least, I had the honour of being Chairman during these birth-pangs. 

 Out of our tiny mustard- spoonful of earth grew a Mighty Mountain , , , (WOW !!)  

 POST SCRIPT:                                                                                                                            I MYSELF AM APPROACHING NINETY  YEARS  OLD  NOW,  SO I JUST WONDER IF THERE ARE OTHER MEMBERS OF OUR OLD  A.S.E.E. COUNCIL STILL ALIVE  TODAY, LIKE MYSELF,  WHO REMEMBER THOSE  EX CITING TIMES  IN ANCIENT HISTORY ???!!!,




I am a retired Electrical Engineer (Pr. Eng.) and worked for the Johanesburg Electricity Department for 30 years (being Head of a large Department), I am a Pianist and a Church Organist (I have given Recitals on the Johannesburg City Hall Organ at lunchtime Concerts). At presentI I play for Chapel Services at Elphin Lodge and at the Aldersgate Methodist Church., , , I came out to South Africa in 1953 to represent Ferguson Paiilin Switchgear Ltd. Manchester U.K.., , ,I was born on Merseyside (home of "The Beetles" !!) and served my Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship on Liverpool Docks., , , During the War I was evacuated to a Welsh Farm in North Wales ("Caerwys") and attended the Holywell Grammar School eight miles distant. There is lots more of course but this will give you just a tiny glimse of Yours Truly.

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