A Short History of the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club - Presentation by Club Historian Prue Weber at the Anglesea LIONS Riverbank Breakfast 26/1/2024
A Life Saving Club was first formed at Anglesea in 1929 and was affiliated with Royal Life Saving Victoria until 1931. This was during the period of the Anglesea Forrester’s Scouts run by Boss Hurst, which had their Scout Camp behind the Anglesea Hotel in Camp Road where Narambi Caravan Park was, when Lord Somers Camps were held at Anglesea.
There were later many attempts to form a Surf Life Saving Club at Anglesea after the Second World War, but it wasn’t until January 1952 that the Club was formed and affiliated with Surf Life Saving Victoria. This was brought about after a successful rescue by June Baker and 3 others of several people who were caught in a Rip at the Anglesea River mouth in November 1951. June was a daughter of the then President of the Anglesea Foreshore Committee – David Baker, a Geelong Publican, who had his holiday house in McMillan St. June was a sports mistress at Morongo, a keen swimmer & had her own surf ski, which was invaluable in the rescue.
Subsequently David Baker placed notices at the Post Office and Marion’s to call a meeting at the Anglesea RSL on 2/1/1952 – to form a Surf Club at Anglesea. 33 people attended, 20 were locals, 6 from Brighton LSC, 3 from Lorne SLSC & 4 from Torquay SLSC. A second meeting was held on 20th January 1952 ASLSC was officially started, David Baker President & local Graham Shaw Secretary and Club Captain Harold Menelaus – who is still alive today. Anglesea was the 10th Victorian club to be formed as a Surf Life Saving Club.
The colours chosen were bottle green and white. They were selected as they were the same as Brighton LSC as it was decided that if the 6 Brighton people, who attended the meeting joined up, it would then become the Club colours. Needless to say the Brighton boys signed up. In the first season there were 59 members, in 2023 there were 1801; Rescues in first year 10, last season 14.
The State Lands Department granted land in the middle of the sand dunes for a clubhouse to be built. 1st Carnival attended was in February 1952 at Portsea. The Club also won the March Past event at the 1952 March State Titles but were relegated to 3rd as they did not have a Club Logo on the swimming costumes.
The first reel on the beach was in 1922 housed in a purpose built shed near the river mouth, in 1952 the newly formed Club retrieved the reel, but it only had a few feet of line.
Anglesea SLSC had a surf boat built in Victoria in 1955 it was called ‘Meldrum’ and up to today it is the only surfboat ever built in Victoria to Surf Life Saving Australia’s specifications. At Easter 1956 the Club finished building their boat shed in front of the recently constructed clubhouse to house their new boat, but in the July of that year, there were high tides and rough seas & the shed was badly damaged, fortunately the new boat was not inside.
It was decided a safer & more practical clubhouse needed to be built on a more stable and sound land. Fundraising and designing all began. A new Crown Land lease was granted by the Bolte Government & the Clubhouse was completed in 1962. It consisted of a function / lecture room, 1st Aid Room, Boat, craft and Life Saving Equipment storage area. This building was modified over the subsequent years, with provision of a bunk accommodation room for members, female change room, a kitchen and a well-supported gym.
This new Clubhouse provided a meeting / function area for the Anglesea Community. In the 1960’s Club members organised dances for the youth of Anglesea, during the Christmas Holidays. One well known band ‘The Groop’ was managed by Molly Meldrum and was the most popular and attended for several years.
Anglesea Lifesavers in the 1960’s held Herald Learn to Swim classes for children which were held in the river or main beach. But in 1968 ASLSC Members started Nippers for both Boys & Girls which today has almost 500 Nippers participating in the program. Children from the ages of 5-14yrs are taught water safety, rip awareness and how to have fun in the water.
Soon the clubhouse needed more room, so in 1994 a second story was created and named the Ray Marsh Room after our 4th President, whose Grandson David is the current President and is serving the community by providing 1st Aid for this gathering. This new addition provided a much-needed area. But by 2010 the old building was in need of replacing so began the long drawn-out planning, approval and fundraising. The new building replaced the original 1962 building which was completed and opened in January 2021. It contains Lecture rooms / Function room, Administration area, Retail Store and a much-improved Storage, First Aid & Patrol facilities. One of the areas is named after past President & Founding Member, John Worrell.
Anglesea beach is often thought of as a safe beach, but this is not so, one day in the late 1950’s the patrollers needed to rescue over 40 people in one Mass Rescue and last January 10 people suddenly needed assistance when a rip developed at tide change. All were saved. Up until 2023 864 people have been rescued by Anglesea Life Savers. The United Nations have a value of life estimate which in 2023 was $5.4m.
All Members have to pay an Annual Membership, Children over 15 can gain their Bronze Medallion, with an annual requalification required to be undertaken before a Member can patrol the beach. On a visit to WA in 1963, Prince Phillip could not believe that people paid a membership to be able to rescue other people. Still today Life Saving Members are unpaid volunteers! There are over 43,000 Life Saving Members in Victoria.
Anglesea Patrollers are often seen at Pt Roadknight and even Urquhart Bluff. Active Members of the Club who live near to Anglesea are on call for emergency rescue assistance. The Club maintains at least one IRB with complete equipment to always be ready for a call out, often the request has been made to go to Urquart Bluff, Pt Addis and the various beaches in between, as Surf Life Saving is part of the State’s Emergency Services which is along with the SES, Ambulance, Police and Fire Rescue Victoria.
· The first women to gain their Bronze Medallions was in 1981. Women were to equally participate in all Life Saving activities with men.
· The first Gold Medal at SLSA Titles was in 1965 – Junior R&R team, locals Doug Solly, Michael McConnell and David Young were team Members.
· The first Female President 2010.
· In 2010 we were awarded SLSA Life Saving Club of the Year.
In January 2022 ASLSC celebrated their 70th Anniversary but due to COVID the celebratory function was held later in the year, in December 2022.
Alcoa has been a long time sponsor for the Club since 1964, which in 1980 allowed the Club to erect a much needed Patrol lookout tower. This tower still stands today and is a similar design to the Patrol Towers in California.
From the 1960’s the Surf Club has assisted Father Christmas‘s visit to Anglesea Beach by Surf Boat on Christmas morning, for all the community to enjoy.
In 1979/80 the then Barrabool Shire commenced financially contributing, along with the State Government, to Life Guard Services on the Anglesea Beach. Jan Juc & Torquay were soon to also have this service. This was the first Council in Victoria to do so, today 20 other councils are contributing funds for this service.
ASLSC developed The Starfish Nippers program, which provides lifesaving activities for children and young adults with a disability 6 years and older, where they can enjoy board riding and water activities under supervision & even undertaking Life Saving Awards.
A recent interesting thing I have discovered is that nearly all of the Sporting Clubs of Anglesea had originally Bottle Green & White as their Club colours and they were nearly all formed after the Surf Club:
· Cricket Club in 1950’s
· Bowling Club in 1960
· Football Club mid 1960’s
· Tennis Club in 1960
· Yacht Club in 1961
· Golf Club in 1950’s
Tomorrow ASLSC will be hosting competition between a LSV Team against a team of American Life Guards from California – for the Wieland Shield. This contest began in 1967 as a biannual event, Club Member Sam Hume is this year’s team Manager and over the years 29 Anglesea Members have been in the various Wieland Shield teams.
Life Saving Societies both Royal and Surf request that:
· You never swim alone
· Never consume alcohol prior to entering the water
· Enrol children in swimming lessons
· Discuss water safety with Children & Visitors
· Explain what a Rip is and what to do if caught in one.
Tours of the Surf Club are available, see me or Raylene our Club Manager.