A Brief History of Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving

By 1909 surf bathing had become a popular pastime, as recorded in the following Advocate newspaper reports- September 17, 1909 “Coffs Harbour Surf Bathing Club. ~ At a well-attended meeting in the Pier Hall last Monday night, Mr W. Moore presiding, it was decided to proper launch surf bathing this summer in Coffs Harbour.

The beginning . . . Jetty Surf Club

The matter of where the dressing sheds should be built was discussed at length and eventually it was decided to raise funds to build two on the Coffs Harbour Beach between the jetty and the headland, and two on Boambee Beach.

This was the beginning of the Jetty Surf Club which steadily grew until 1914 when World War I took all the districts young men away, however it was reborn by 1920 when the survivors of the Great War drifted back into town.

In the 1922-23 season the first surf life saving awards were gained by the following members: Roy Fern, Tom Gleeson, Claude Langbridge, H.R.Townsen, Bill Curran, Bill Hayes, A. J. Shrives, Sam Hearfield and Charlie Hawkins.

The club provided a vital service until 1937 when Jetty Beach was fully enclosed and led to clubs demise.

The Start of Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club Park Beach

In February 1923 a meeting was held in the School of Arts at Top Town to discuss the formation of a second club. This was followed by another meeting on March 1, at which officers were elected, and a further meeting on March 15 to consolidate the formation of the new club. This was the genesis of the Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club.

Some members of the Jetty Club joined the new club, but according to one of the new original members, Ernie Eeley, “it was not a breakaway move”, and members of the new club had no affiliation with the Jetty Club.

The first Bronze Squad in 1924 consisted of Horrie Riding, Reg Shanahan, Walt Hoschke, Ern Hoschke, Ern Eeley, Vic Williams, Percy Russell, Hilton Thompson, Roy Blanchard, Bill Anderson, Dick Gailer and Eddy Smiles.

Things were very difficult in the early days and white ants made a quick meal of the original amenities constructed by the Surf Club at Park Beach and in 1926 it was decided to “go the whole hog” and build in brick. The bricks were transported, via the Park Beach track, to the clubhouse site by a horse team, driven by Jim Keener. The transport cost was more than the 3000 bricks. The building was officially opened on Sunday October 3, 1926. The ceremony was notable for the people, who didn’t come, including the town band.

Historical Photos From this Decade

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