The History of the Clubhouse

From once a tent, to an iconic architectural delight, this story maps the evolution of North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club's buildings.

Aerial View of Bondi Beach (1930)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The Early Days (1906 - 1919)

South Bondi Beach scene (1904)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

Commonly known as Bondi Baths in the beginning, a small pool was built at the southern end of Bondi Beach in 1887.

The First Life Saving Class in Australia (1894-11)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

It was here a small group of men formed the Bondi Surf and Social Club.

The Original Site, Birth of A "Tent" (1907)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

In 1906, the first clubhouse (tent) was erected on an arid block of land up the hill from North Bondi Beach. It was owned by the Caretaker of the North Bondi Military Fort, Robert Howard, known to everyone as Nosey Bob.

Early picture of members when the club was a tent (1907)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The clubhouse (tent) relocated to Wally Weekes' property in 1907. Weekes, a founder of the Club and the Club's Captain, would go on to become a lifelong member.

Club Members Photo 1914 (1914-04-19)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

Wally Weekes charged the Club one shilling a year rent.

During the years of 1910-1911, the first wooden clubhouse was built on the hill above North Bondi. The one-roomed structure, still sitting on Weekes' land, became a meeting place for many famous athletes.

Bondi (1917)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

In 1912, the Surf Bathing Association tried to persuade Waverley Council that there should be 2 clubs on Bondi. The Council says they do not want 2 clubs operating and that Bondi Surf Bathers should be the controlling club.

Club House Letter (1914-04-24)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The Hon. Secretary R.G Douglas wrote a letter to the Council requesting a club house. George Saunders, the president at the time was also involved in the negotiation with the council.

Side View of the First Wooden Clubhouse (1920-04-03)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

On 26 February 1918, Waverley Council receives and approves a request from the Club for a grant of land to build a clubhouse pending the submission of detailed plans.

Front View of the First Clubhouse (1920-11)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

A decade later, the Club finally gets the approval it needs. A month after the plans get approved, the council minutes records tables of plans for the construction of a the new clubhouse.

Note with Details of Repayment to Alice Smiles (1921-06-28)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

Members of the Building Committee raise the balance through loans and gifts to build to Club. The total cost of the construction was £1255/3/3, mainly consisting of loans.

Our Clubs early Lifesaving Instruction (1920)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

Between the Wars (1920 - 1946)

Official Opening of the First Clubhouse. (1920-04-03)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The new clubhouse was officially opened 3 April 1920 by the Hon. C.W Oakes, MLA, a club patron. The Council gives permission for the Club to hold a two week Christmas Carnival that year to pay off the loans raised.

Annual Members club Photograph of NBSLSC (1931-05-03)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

In 1932, a devastating fire destroyed the clubhouse. 'On 10 July, fate struck a severe blow when fire from cause unknown broke out in the building.' (Annual Report)

The North Bondi Surf Club (1936)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

On 25 November 1933, the Club took possession of the new clubhouse. Honorary secretary C.W. Schartl wrote, 'This marks the dawn of a new era in the Club's history and sets the Club on the unending road of success.' (Annual Report)

Annual Xmas Club Photo (1970)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

After the war (1947 - present)

79 Club renovations (1979)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The 1970s saw dramatic changes in surf life saving. The Club made alterations, carrying out plans for an upstairs level. The renovations were opened in 1979.

Club renovations 79 (1979)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

The Clubhouse Bondi Beach Australia (2010)North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

In 2009, the Club embarked on their biggest renovation yet. The model of the new design can be seen here. The building was in part designed by club member and architect Peter Colquhoun.

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