American inventor James Plimpton found a way to make the first useable pair of roller skates in 1863.
This is considered the birth of the modern four-wheeled roller skates. By 1884, pin ball-bearing wheels made rolling easier and skates lighter.
The first record of roller skating in Stawell was reported in the Stawell Chronicle on April 15, 1878:
"Professor Taylor and the graceful Lillie gave a skating entertainment at the Town Hall on Saturday and it is not too much to say that no evening's amusement yet provided gave more genuine pleasure at Stawell. The professor and his wife kept perfect time to the music of the piano, and do it so well and so thoroughly that their skill is simply surprising.
"The roller skating appears to be so easily and gracefully done, that many amateurs were induced to try their skill, and here began one of the funniest episodes we have witnessed. Those who essayed the trial involuntarily presented so much posturing and so many falls to the audience that in a few minutes the fun became furious, and there was not one present who did not laugh boisterously.
"We understand Mr Taylor to say, he will take part in the performance at the hall to-morrow evening, in aid of the Miners Association.
"Mr Taylor exhibits gold medals by the dozen which have been presented to him, and Lillie also has many to show.
"The lady sings well and dances in a way which shows off her remarkably fine figure to the best advantage. It may also be mentioned that the feats of strength shown by Mr Taylor as something to witness.
"The following evening April 16, the couple gave their second entertainment, and the last of the present season, at the Town Hall, to a much better house than that of Saturday.
"If dancing be the poetry of motion, skating is undoubtedly the music of motion, and the two combined are irresistible.
"Of course the practicing of the amateurs was as mirth-provoking as ever, and when twelve of them entered for the race for a silver cup the fun was at its height. They travelled partly on their skates, partly on their hands, and indulged in contortions. Mr. J. Cook, displayed really excellent skating, for a beginner and was presented with a cup by Lillie. Professor Taylor then returned thanks and stated that, although unable to obtain the hall any more this week, he would return shortly for the purpose of establishing a skating club."
By May 1878, a meeting of the members of the skating club was held. Present were Mr Cook (in the chair), and Messrs Barlow, Hull, Kempson, McEwan and Dobie.
Attendees agreed that the club be called the Stawell Skating Club, and that members be permitted to bring ladies free of extra charge.
This period of revival continued to the beginning of World War I.
By June 1878, there were at least two roller skating clubs operating in the Borough of Stawell - the Stawell and the Stawell West skating clubs. A request by the Stawell Skating Club to the Borough Council to use the Town Hall as a venue for roller skating was declined in June 1878, likely due to the same reported damage at Brisbane Town Hall on May 17, advising, "that as the floor of the room used is found to bear skate marks".
Anticipating the refusal of the Borough Council to their request for the use of the Town Hall, members of the Stawell Skating Club decided upon amalgamating with the club at Stawell West. Both clubs would meet at the building in the Botanical Reserve.
The first gathering of the amalgamated clubs was held on June 6, 1878. In order to make the affair as thorough a success as possible, cabs were chartered to convey members and visitors to the reserve. It appears this enthusiasm was short lived, as there is a lack of reports on roller skating for a number of years. In May 1896, the return of skating was reported.
"There was a very good attendance of ladies and gentlemen at the Orderly Room last evening when roller skating was revived. The scarcity of skates prevented as many as desired from engaging in a preliminary burst, the lucky ones seeming loath to relinquish their chance once it was secured. The pastime is one of the pleasantest of winter recreations, and with good management should obtain a new lease of life on the affections of both young and old."
Roller skating rinks during this period were very animated occasions, with fancy dress and racing events. Often with a packed attendance of spectators, and skaters in large numbers.
Teams races between Stawell, Ararat and Horsham were hotly contested.
There were many handsome costumes worn and the judges had considerable difficulty in making their awards.
The Excelsior Brass Band supplied music and on its amalgamation with the Stawell Brass Band in 1914 continued under this new amalgamation.
Roller skating was still popular in 1908, with a report that the proprietor of the Stawell and Ararat roller skating rinks was looking for a location in Horsham.
This period of revival continued to the beginning of World War I, which was understandably its final demise.