WA’s first surf lifesaving club

The drowning of Mrs Lucinda Jarvis in February 1906 highlighted the dangers of surf bathing.

Mrs Jarvis and her nine year-old daughter went for an early morning swim at Cottesloe. Leaving her daughter in one of the shelter sheds, Mrs Jarvis, a strong swimmer, dived in. Soon after, Miss Winifred Abel heard cries for help but despite the best efforts of Winifred and another swimmer, Mrs Jarvis drowned. [1]Trove: Evening Mail, 7 February 1906.

In 1909, keen to assure visitors that swimming at Cottesloe was safe, the Cottesloe Municipal Council organised lifesaving and first aid classes for enthusiastic locals. Sergeant Smith of the Royal Life Saving Society ran the classes for men and women. The men’s class formed Western Australia’s first surf lifesaving club, the Cottesloe Life Saving and Athletic Club – only the second in Australia.

1920s. Cottesloe Life Saving and Athletic Club members

In early 1913 the club finally realised its ambition for a clubhouse with the opening of a wooden building on the beach below John Street. By the 1920s the need for bigger premises was obvious and an ambitious raffle was organised to raise funds. 25,000 tickets at one shilling each were sold, with a Chevrolet car as first prize. On 6th September 1924 the enlarged clubrooms opened.

1913 The original clubhouse for the Cottesloe Life Saving and Athletic Club on the beach below John Street.

1924 Opening day for the enlarged clubrooms.