The Club now known as the Floreat Surf Life Saving Club was first formed by a band of young men in 1947 under the name of North City Surf Life Saving Club.
Prior to 1947, members of the City of Perth club occasionally patrolled Floreat Beach, then known as Wembley or North City Beach. The members misbehaving or being slack in carrying out club duties did this patrolling as a punishment detail - City members called it the Sahara.
In September of 1947, Sergeant Ron Wall of the Subiaco Police & Citizens Club, contacted Kevin Riley, a member of the City of Perth club, for help in training his group in lifesaving techniques. It was those young men who then formed the first full time patrol at North City Beach.
The late Ron Tamen of the East Perth P&C was in charge and Kevin Riley was their coach. Membership grew very rapidly during the early period and several who joined in 1947/48 are still closely associated with the club. By the end of the first season, North City had 64 members and recorded no lives lost and 22 first aid cases. The colours chosen for the club were royal blue and gold.
At the commencement of the 1948/49 season, Kevin Riley returned to the City of Perth club, and elected their club captain. However he and several other City members continued to assist in the training of the new North City club members. Although there was no elected governing committee operating during this period, Ron Tamen was the administrator and R.Pola became club captain. The first general meeting that called for the forming of an official and fully functional committee was in 1957.
The 1947-1957 period was one of steady growth , and even when membership dropped a little after 1955, interest was always high. Several State Championship events were won, principally in the March Past, Beach Relay and Rescue & Resuscitation events. The boat crews, who were using a rather heavy double ender boat on loan from the City of Perth club, came very close on several occasions to gaining a State pennant. The bond between City and North City was very close. By 1957, membership was once again on the increase and new directions were being sought.
1958 was the year in which a completely new image was to take over the club. At the general meeting, it was voted to change the club's name from North City to Floreat. This step was taken in an all out effort to get away from the idea many people had that North City was only an extension of the City of Perth club. It was also voted to add the colour "Carnation Red" to the royal blue and gold of the North City club.
Floreat Beach looking South, Late 60s
The first season as the Floreat club was one of its best, with a high membership especially in the senior ranks which numbered 51 active members. A surf boat (Pontiac Chieftain), the first boat the club owned, was purchased from Warriewood Surf Club in NSW. A deposit of 200 pounds was paid, and the remaining 200 pounds was paid off monthly. This was a great moment in the club's history.
The summer season of 1959/60 showed a marked drop in membership. This was attributed to the fact that several of the more prominent members found they had to patrol an enlarged area formed by the construction of the Floreat groyne to the south of existing patrol area. The clubrooms, which they had been using since 1947 and continued to use until 1962, were the old wooden change rooms which were located just in front of where the present kiosk and change rooms are today. This made patrolling the new and popular section of beach beside the groyne a much harder task. This decline in members continued until the summer of 1964/65 when the club's total registered membership numbered only 35.
In March of 1961, Floreat was represented for the first time by a senior members team at a National Surf Championship. Mona Vale in South Australia was the host beach and thirteen of our members attended, contributing 15 pounds each to cover travelling expenses, and although none reached finals in their events, much experience was gained and a good time was had by all.
New and larger clubrooms was a goal of the club from the early days of North City, and in 1962 this goal became reality. The Perth City Council, always a generous supporter of the club, felt there was a need for a multipurpose building within the area which could be utilised during the 1962 Empire Games and the Floreat club thereafter. The Council built a clubrooms on the hill, closer to the main and popular area near the groyne. This location enabled easy patrolling of all the Floreat Beach, and a good position to keep watch for potential dangers. Those clubrooms were extended on two occasions (1966 & 1972 ) to give the club more storage area for gear and extra administration and utility areas.
1966 saw, for the first time, the inclusion of members between the ages of 9 and 13 years into the ranks of the Floreat Club. This new Juvenile movement, as it was known, was the greatest single asset the club had over the previous eleven years. It brought into the club a steady stream of young members and the support of the parents was also recognised. This Juvenile area was soon to be the largest section of the club.
From that time on, steady progress was made in membership and the club was always held together by a strong nucleus of members to take all the key committee positions. Membership drives were launched in the mid and late 60's so after the early 1970's it was felt the real progress could be clearly seen.
In April 1978 the coast was lashed by cyclone Alby, which sped up the erosion problem that had been threatening for many years. Thousands of dollars were spent attempting to save the building but to no avail. The building was not considered worth saving and ultimately needed to be demolished.
In 1979, the controversial question arose as to whether new clubrooms should be provided. The City Council wanted the members of Floreat to consider amalgamating with the City of Perth Club, a decision that would have been hard to swallow given the past history of the club. A small group of ardent Floreat supporters and members got together and lobbied for the continued existence of Floreat SLSC and after several years and much deliberation the Council generously allocated approximately $370000 to build new clubrooms, further away from the waters edge and north of the Floreat kiosk.
The members occupied the building as from the first of January 1981. The clubrooms were then the envy of all the W.A. clubs and it was the members who basically designed the building in consultation with Johnston & Crystal, the Architects.
The Floreat Club however, is not just a building. It is the people that make the club and there have been many characters that have passed through and a few that have had nowhere else to go. Floreat is known for being a club with a strong family focus and maintaining a high level of efficiency in life saving skills. The equipment the club now owns is of the highest quality and well maintained. Floreat is held in high regard in the handling of Inflatable Rescue Boats and have taken many State Titles, including the National Title in 1998 in IRB racing. Floreat has been ranked in the top fifteen IRB clubs in Australia. Floreat members also participate in the summer National Championship and IRB Championship events, which is a highlight for many of our experienced competitors.
Over recent years the Club has won the Association's coveted Patrol Efficiency Award and is often ranked in the top three clubs in this area.
Our long-term future is secure with the Town of Cambridge being very supportive. The Town has invested significant funds, both on the building and in the immediate area of the Club, bringing more people to our beach. The Club continues to look at how it can best expand it's facilities to cater for growth. From humble beginnings to a multi-million dollar establishment in fifty plus years of outstanding service.