1951 Forging ahead.

Almost immediately after the fire the club began planning to rebuild. We had lost the building and the boats but they could be replaced albeit not immediately. What could never be replaced were the trophies, photographs and memorabilia that had been accumulated over 80 years. Bob Lawrie told me when I interviewed him,that he and several others searched the lake bed for anything that may have remained. All they found was a single, small burnt trophy oar and a handful of scorched coins. Honor boards, minute books and photographs and just turned to ash and trophies to molten lumps of metal. Sadly no photographs of the interior of the shed have ever come to light. I like to think that someone somewhere has a picture of their parents or grandparents at the Ballarat City dance in the old hall.

Work was done on clearing the site and removing all the debris. It must have been a heartbreaking task as nothing could be salvaged. All that was left were the foundation stumps and the jetty which was not damaged by the fire. Otto Hauser was dispatched to Sydney by train on December 6th 1950 to arrange the urgent supply of new boats. What an epic journey that would have been. In January 1951 it was reported that the club had purchased a second-hand clinker eight from Newman College in Melbourne and that was being housed in Wendouree’s shed.

The cleared site 1951.

The Annual Meeting was held on September 28th at the Anglers’ Lodge. Frank Findlay continued as President and Jack Lawrie as Treasurer. Cliff McCahon resigned as Secretary and assistant secretary for the past few years, Alf Quick took on the job. Once again there were 17 committee meetings held and Vice-President Otto Hauser was the only member to attend all 17. By the Annual meeting the club now had five boats and twenty oars. All of these were practice boats which made it very difficult as they also had to race in these heavier boats if they were unable to borrow a boat.On the rowing front the club did exceptionally well given the circumstances. Even though they had limited equipment and had to share premises, every member trained hard and raced well. Of particular note was the crew that raced in the Champion Lightweight eight of Victoria. They came second by a third of a length rowing the heavy clinker eight. They had approached Wendouree about borrowing their “streak” racing eight as Wendouree did not have a crew entered in the race. Wendouree declined the request and there was another race where the result could have been so different-if only! The club still managed to come third on the Lightweight premiership which had been introduced after the war with 20 points just 4 points off second placed Mercantile. Again an outstanding achievement given the circumstances.

The Social Committee and the Ladies Committee still continued energetically raising funds for the club despite being without their beautiful dance hall. Dances were transferred to St. Patrick’s Hall in Dawson Street and continued to make a satisfactory profit. Shortly after the fire, the Mayor, Mr. J. C. Rowe opened an Appeal to help raise the funds to rebuild. The committee ran several fundraising functions one of which was a Rabbit Drive held in conjunction with the Angler’s Club. A great day was had by all and a small profit was made.

It was also decided to stage a ‘Gold Centenary Revue’ with Mr. Noltenhuis elected secretary of the revue. The review was held from Tuesday June 12th until Monday June 18th 1951.The souvenir program cost sixpence and the funds raised were to go to the Rebuilding Fund. Many Ballarat businesses made donations towards the production that starred several Ballarat City members either on stage or behind the scenes.

By October 1951 the club had obtained a permit to build a 25,000 pound, all concrete club house. Mr.Findlay hoped to have the new building erected within a few years. It would take another 5 years to get it almost completed in time for the 1956 Olympic rowing held on Lake Wendouree. In later years Bob Lawrie said if the Olympics had not been held here it is doubtful that the shed would have ever been rebuilt.

Program for the Gold centenary revue fundraiser 1951.
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