The Lorne Surf Life Saving Club is one of the oldest in Victoria, having been formed before World War II, by Len Harris and co-enthusiasts. However, it was forced to close down in 1939 due to the war.
In 1947, the Club was re-established by a group of Lorne residents for the purpose of guarding the beach, which was becoming increasingly popular. These post-war founders included Murray Mill, Brian and Ian Hunt, Henry Love, Alan Hunter, Brian Witcombe and Don Stewart. The re-established Club has continued to the present day.
The original Clubrooms of the Lorne SLSC were amongst the historic bathing boxes, which were located to the north of the present clubhouse. These bathing boxes were eventually demolished in 1973.
The second Clubhouse was built in 1952 at a cost of 5,000 Pounds. Much of the work was done by voluntary labour and the bricks were all made by hand on site.
In 1970, the boat storage and craft storage areas were added at the southern end. In 1985, the female bunkhouse, IRB store and radio room was added at the northern end at a cost of $120,000.
The third and current Clubhouse, started construction in 1999 as a result of 7 years of planning and fundraising. It was operational for the 2000 season at a cost of $1.5 million. This is a state of the art life saving and community facility, which has been designed with the future of voluntary life saving in mind. It is expected to fulfil the needs of the Club for many years to come.
Since 1948, members of the Lorne SLSC have carried out well over 2,000 rescues, as well as treated in excess of 4,000 cases of first aid and over 15,000 preventative actions. The Lorne beach is generally a safe swimming beach, but becomes treacherous and unpredictable during on-shore Easterly winds. The majority of the rescues carried out by our voluntary members have occurred in such conditions.
The Lorne SLSC is proud of its record of “no lives lost between the flags”.
The Club has been at the forefront of change in Surf Life Saving, being the first Club in Victoria to employ a full time lifeguard during January when rostered patrols were not on duty. The Lifeguard program now covers 27 surf beaches and some 110 lifeguards are employed by Life Saving Victoria during the peak December and January period.
Lorne SLSC moved quickly to accept women members when this become possible by change in National Council Policy in 1979/80. Females now comprise nearly half of the Club’s active membership. Interestingly, it is understood that the club’s first ‘defacto’ treasurer was Pearl Witcombe, well before females were formally allowed membership.
The Pier to Pub Swim was first held in 1981 and has now been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest open water swimming event in the world, attracting 5,000 competitors each year (capped). This event, conceived by members of Lorne, conducted and promoted by Lorne SLSC, has established a model that many other Clubs have followed to raise much-needed funds.
Although all members contribute on a voluntary basis, it now cost the Lorne SLSC in excess of $200,000 per annum to operate.
Lorne had always been active and strong in various areas of Surf Life Saving competition, particularly boat rowing, swimming, craft and in the past ‘Rescue & Resuscitation’ (R&R).
In 1973, the Lorne R&R team won the Australian Title in what was regarded as the premiership event. Other Australian Open titleholders have been Howard Hughes (1970, 1972, 1973, 1977), Graham White (1970 – 2 titles, 1972, 1973), A Atkins (1969, 1970), John Fox (1987, 1994, 2001, 2002), Tristan Read (2013, 2018), Lisa Wadling (2017),
Lorne members have won many titles at Victorian Open, Junior and Masters Championships, and even some World Championship medals.
The continued success of the Lorne SLSC over the many years boils down to a great camaraderie amongst all members whether competitors, administrators, patrol members or associates. It is a Club of great tradition and regularly holds Victorian Surf Life Saving Championships in Juniors and Opens. Each year Lorne is the home of the Masters State Titles. In 2006 Lorne was honoured to host the World Life Saving Titles.