Lake Macquarie History

Opening of the new Clubhouse for Redhead Surf Lifesaving Club

February 22 1964 celebrated the opening of the new Surf Lifesaving clubhouse at Redhead Beach, after almost four years in the planning.

photo: lifesaving practice, redhead beach

In 1959, the committee of the Redhead Lifesaving Club approached the Welfare Fund of the Joint Coal Board for a grant towards the building of a proposed clubhouse. The board responded that they were unable to assist at the time.

Although there was no money to fund a building, plans were drawn up, a site was chosen and permission was sought and granted from Lake Macquarie Shire Council. Raffles and functions were the major income for the club, most of which was spent on lifesaving gear, surfboats and repairs to the existing clubhouse. This left little money in the building fund. New plans were drawn up after the idea of incorporating dressing sheds was raised.

A public appeal by the Sydney Morning Hearal Gear Fund, to assist surf clubs with interest free loans caught the attention of the Redhead Lifesaving Club Committee. The application was thwarted because the revised plans of the inclusion of male and female dressing facilities, was deemed to be a local council responsibility, and thereby not within the terms of the loan aplication process.

Another application was made to the Welfare Fund of the Joint Coal Board for £5000 in the winter of 1960. The remaining cost of £5000 towards the new premises was to be supplied by the club. Caltex engineer, John Boniface, saw the great potential Redhead Beach held and in cooperation with the Building Committee, he drew up plans for the complete development of the beach. At a cost of around £60000, Mr Boniface's long term vision also included necessary beach buildings, access roads and a low level carpark.

A breakthrough came when the top half of the building was designated as a community hall. This fell within the guidelines of the Coal Board grant criteria. Another appliclication was submitted and on November 2, 1960, the Joint Coal board granted £2500 towards the top half of the proposed building. This was on proviso that the club assure Lake Macquarie Shire Council the building would be a designated community area available to the local people of Redhead and surrounding area.

Controversy arose after John Boniface's plans appeared in the Newcastle Herald. A public meeting was called and convened by the Council, where it was decided that striking a local rate to finance the building was not appropriate.Due to a lack of funds, the plans that Mr Boniface had drawn up needed to be revised. In 1962, the Building Committee and President of the Surf Club,Peter McKenzie, joined together to list the basic requirements for the proposed new building. Their rough floor plan was then circulated among several builders where quotes fell in around the £7000 mark. Councilor Allan Pitts secured £3000 grant money from Council, which made the total amount pledged £5500.

photo: redhead beach carpark

As public dressing facilities were no longer included in the revised plans, a reapplication for a loan was made to the Sydney Morning Hearal Gear Fund. This time it was approved and a further £1000 was added. As the carpark was taking shape, Council gave permission for the area to be fenced off and a fee of 2/- per car to be charged on admittance. The proceeds were to be used to assist the paying off of loans obtained towards the construction of the clubhouse and community hall.

Local architect, Greg Eastman drew up the final plans and specifications which were then submitted to Council. In 1963, Lake Macquarie Shire Council called for tenders for a brick clubhouse to be buit at Redhead Beach, and at the end of the 1963/64 surfing season the old clubhouse and men's dressing sheds were demolished.

photo: redhead beach surf lifesaving club

A £2000 bank loan was secured, with local businessmen, Norm Williams, Alf Pickering, Jim and Pete Shelly, life member of the club, Doug Graham and club president, Peter McKenzie acting as guarantors. The tender of £10,400 from Davies and Lewis was accepted, though there was still a shortfall of around £1500. The necessity of public dressing sheds was realised and at a Council meeting £3500 was assigned towards their building, as well as the balance required for the clubhouse and community hall. <

On October 9 1963, construction of the brick clubhouse and community facilities began. Christmas Day 1963 saw the opening of the public dressing sheds and by February 22 1964 the new Redhead Surf Lifesaving clubhouse and community hall was completed. The total cost of the buiding was estimated to exceed £15000

For further reading

Conrick, Chris, Readhead: village, beach surf club 1908-1983, Adamstown : Alec Dobson & McEwan Pty. , 1983.