Moves to provide lifesaving apparatus at West Beach were made at Burnie as early as February 1919. Minutes of the Burnie Tourist and Progress Association of February 13th reveal that it was resolved to ask the Emu Bay Council to install a reel, line and belt at the beach. The annual report of the Burnie Tourist and Progress Association presented on May 27th, 1919 indicated that a local lifesaving club has been formed, because the following extract was recorded.
“In joint action with the local lifesaving club the association arranged with the council to install lifesaving apparatus on south and west beaches.”
First Surf Rescue Team
Local barber Tom Scott was one of those who formed Burnie’s first unofficial surf rescue team in the summer of 1919-20, together with Laurence Wells, Stan Gill and Tom Munn.
Captain James Newlands, VC convened and chaired a meeting at Tom Scott’s saloon in the summer of 1921. Also present were Tom Scott, Percy Baldwin, Stan Gill, Herb Dudman, Sid Melbourne, Joe Bryant, Claude Wells and Alynn Emmett. The meeting decided to form a club, to be known as the Burnie Surf Life Saving Club. The first president was Captain James Newlands, the Captain and Chief Instructor was Tom Scott, the Secretary was Alynn Emmett and the Committee the remainder.
Bricks and mortar
Shortly after a clubhouse built of split palings was erected just west of the old Parade swimming pool and was painted with a mixture of red ochre and linseed oil. The plans of a surf reel were obtained from NSW and a reel was constructed and used for many years. A club was formed at Devonport on January 19, 1927 and was the first Tasmanian Club to affiliate with the Surf Lifesaving Association of Australia. Burnie followed suit in 1931.
The club has since grown and prospered in many ways, being one of the largest and most successful clubs in the State.