Club History

History of The Williamstown and Newport Anglers' Club

On January 18th, 1933, eleven people held a meeting for the purpose of forming an Anglers' Club. Of those eleven people only one survives today - Mr. A. Eaton.

Mr. H. P. Hill occupied the chair and was formally elected President.

One week later a committee was elected. The club was to be known as the "Williamstown and Newport Anglers' Club and Fish Protection Society." A fee of one shilling was to be charged for nomination to membership and the annual subscription was to be five shillings.

The committee met on the 31st January, 1933 and it was agreed that the rule book of the Northcote Anglers' Club be used for guide lines in drawing up a constitution for the club.

At the general meeting on 1st February, a further five members were elected.

Committee Meeting 8/2/33. - lt was decided that rowing boats be hired for opening outing of the club to be held on 12th February. A further three members were nominated at the general meeting following committee meeting.

Committee Meeting 14/2/33. - lt was decided that the cup which had been donated by the President would be fished for on 26th February.

General Meeting 22/2/33. - A further five members were elected, one of them being Mr. T. Marr, who on his first night was elected to fill a committee vacancy.

General Meeting 1/3/33. - Mr. Hill and Mr. Marr were elected as trustees. A bank account in the name of the club was opened at the State Savings Bank, £6/4/6 being amount of money at hand. Profit from first competition - £1/3/6.

And so from these few early extracts it can be seen how the club began to take shape with the drawing up of a sound constitution which basically serves the club today, and also the competitive aspect in club angling which survives today to become a major part of the interest in the club.

At the first Annual Meeting held on December 20th, 1933, it was resolved that all monies over £510/0 at the end of each month be put into a new account to be established and called the "Building Fund Account" - and no money whatsoever be drawn from this account for any other purpose than for the building of club rooms and/or boat shed, unless agreed to by a full two - thirds majority of ALL financial members. This has since been amended and is controlled by Trustees.

And so at this very early stage after the club being formed, it was evident that a purpose other than angling was uppermost in the mind of some far-seeing members.

At this time the club decided to rent premises at 221 Nelson Place as club rooms for £13/0/0 per year.

In March, 1935, the club was asked to leave the club rooms by the letting agent. Premises at 223 Nelson Place (next door) were then rented for 10/ - per week - a 100 per cent. increase.

During the next six years the club made steady progress - membership was increasing and finances gradually being built up via the Building Fund.

It was during this period - starting in 1934 - that a strong association was formed with the "Ballarat Anglers' Club" which continues to this day. Reciprocal visits have continued each year since, being both of an angling and social nature.

It is believed by the older members of the club that this friendship was a big influence in helping the W.N.A.C. to hold together, and develop the endeavour so necessary to have built the club to what it is today.

In August, 1939, after much spadework by the committee and tremendous support from Cr. J. A. Dennis, permission was granted by the Williamstown Council and the Lands Department to proceed with the erection of a boathouse on the present site.

Plans were drawn up at an estimated cost of £400/0/0 ($800.00), and were submitted to the members and accepted, the amount of money in the Building Fund being £171/15/1.

Now for the hard work; and so in January, 1940, a start was made on the construction. A daunting task - a country at war, not much money, but stout hearts and strong backs. Led by several members with the expertise, the building was finished and officially opened on July 30th, 1941.

The eighth annual meeting of the club was held in the new rooms on 8th August, 1941, and it was revealed that the cost of the building to that stage was £649/4/3 of which £253/13/2 was owed to sundry creditors.

None of this would have been possible in such a short time had it not been for the support and faith of Mr. F. Becraft of the Newport Timber Co. who stood the club in credit for a considerable amount of money.

This was only the beginning - a boathouse on the foreshore and very little else. Jetties, slipways, winches, lifting gear - you name it - had to be installed. A few rowing boats to start off with, which were hand launched or moored in the pool.

By February, 1942, the first low jetty and slipway were completed.

In November, 1942, the final payment was made on money owed to Newport Timber Co., Mr. F. Becraft attending the meeting to accept same.

Such was the progress of the club at this time - the membership was now over 200 - that it was realised that if the club was to maintain its momentum, boathouse accommodation and facilities would have to be increased. By 1945 boats were being sited on vacant land on the eastern side of the original boathouse in the open, until this area became full too.

The question of increasing boat accommodation kept recurring, but with restrictions on building - being the immediate post - war period and housing and other urgent buildings having priority - it was impossible to have done anything towards solving the problem, even if finance had been available.

By 1950 a new pier and slipway had been installed, much of it of second hand timber recovered from the old swimming baths which had been wrecked in a storm some years earlier. This project was one of great magnitude. Money was in short supply, power tools were not available, but stout hearts and muscle were.

Piles from the old baths were recovered and manhandled from the beach to the club, cut into required sizes by crosscut saws, bolt holes drilled by hand augers, concrete hand mixed - no easy jobs, but they were tackled and overcome, and today much of this material still forms a big part of the pier.

However the question of undercover storage for all boats was still there, and at last a few positive steps were taken towards this end. Various plans and ideas were drawn up, and finally a plan acceptable to all was blue - printed to become the new boathouse.

A general meeting was called, the plans were submitted, and now for the next step - obtaining the land and getting permission from Council and lands Department to go ahead.

In 1958 the land was granted and permission to proceed was received.

Firstly debentures were issued to members, some £2000 being raised by this means; this, together with what money was in the Building Fund, being sufficient to enable a start to be made.

Again for the physical work. Any job that could be, was done by the
members, only that which required expert knowledge, such as erecting the steel framework, installing the lift, and cladding of the building, etc., was done by outside labour.

Such was the dedication and determination of the members to have this completed that, by 1961 the building was officially opened and in use and, most importantly, paid for, £11,000 ($22,000) being the cost.

So many members contributed towards this project, each one according to his particular talent, that it would be wrong to name anyone above another.

In 1967 the wooden boat lifting gantry was replaced by the present steel

In 1973 new aluminium framed windows were installed and the outside of
the building reclad.

Two events which have shown that the club is a real part of the community of Williamstown were the raising and contribution of money to the Williamstown Hospital.

In 1954 the Hospital ran a public appeal for funds to extend its building in the form of a Maternity Section.

All sporting bodies were approached. The club took up the challenge and raised the sum of £500 ($1000) towards this end.

Again in 1974 a further appeal was launched for extensions, this time for a "Geriatric Wing." On this occasion the club raised and presented $1973, by far the greatest contribution of any sporting club.

By 1975 the committee recognised that with increasing membership and bigger meetings, the club meeting room was too small. The dividing wall between the old original boathouse was removed, a new floor was installed, the extended area lined, and the result was a functional meeting and games .room for all to enjoy.

At the same time the weighing - in enclosure was added, enabling fish weighing - in to be done outside the main building.

This project was again helped by the voluntary efforts of the members and was completed and paid for in 1976.

Also during that year the old jetties and slipways were replaced, again by voluntary work by the members. Solidly constructed (this time from new materials) it was built to last and will serve the members for many years.

Another facet of the club activities is the holding of an annual fishing competition for the Williamstown Hospital, all fish caught being donated to the hospital.

In the clubrooms today is a book which has been compiled by the members over the years, in which is recorded and explained, the fishing spots which have been found by members. The book is available to members to read and increase their knowledge in relation to angling. This book is a by - product of Rule 2 of the club constitution which reads "the mutual exchange of knowledge relative to angling."

It would be remiss not to make mention of the high regard held by the Williamstown Council for the club. If it were not for the self - help attitude, and the high standards we place on our membership, it would have been impossible to have had their support in obtaining permission to build and extend the club and make it what it is today.

With that in mind, members must be always conscious of what they have, and most importantly, of the trust that has been placed in the club by the citizens of Williamstown through their Council.

Let the members ensure that it is not only the best Anglers' Club in Victoria,
but continues to be so.

And now, with over 300 members, the club continues to progress. The committee is ever alert to ensure that maintenance is kept at a high level, and to that end finances must be kept up to bring this about.

By this outline of the club's history, it will be seen that 50 years on, what started out as a few people interested in angling grew to what it is today.

To read this history, one could be forgiven for thinking that all the club members did was work. But this has not been so, as a look through the records which have been kept practically since its inception, reveals that a great deal of angling has been enjoyed by the members in fresh water, estuary and salt water, resulting in some very impressive catches.

In conclusion, let us pay tribute to two men who have seen all this come about, and have been continuous members since the beginning - Mr. A. Eaton and Mr. T. Marr. Both have served as executive members at some time in the club's history; Mr. Eaton as Commiteeman and Vice - President, and Mr. Marr as Secretary, Assistant Secretary, President, Treasurer and Trustee. May they both be with us for many more years to enjoy the fellowship of angling.

And now it is the younger and newer members who have a great responsibility to see that the club does not falter, but continues to flourish in the future for the enjoyment of all its members.

Keep the club going in the tradition that has been established - that of self - help and the willingness to give of your talents to the fullest at all times, and you will continue to belong with pride to the Williamstown and Newport Anglers' Club..

S. M. Bowyer