Look back at Gentlemen’s Club in Geraldton of yore

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Club board member Marilyn McLeod said women were not allowed to join until 1998.
Camera IconGeraldton Club board member Marilyn McLeod said women were not allowed to join until 1998. Credit: Geoff Vivian

By the 1890s, men in business were well enough settled in Geraldton to think about forming their own club.

“It was called the Gentlemen’s Club,” board member and club historian Marilyn McLeod said.

“There were no women allowed except for once a year at the annual ball.”

Ms McLeod said the founders of what is now the Geraldton Club were mostly pastoralists, miners and businessmen who were very clear about their motives for starting the club.

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“Wheeling and dealing — for their own betterment,” she said.

“Initially there was no building and they met at the Hosken’s Club Hotel.”

Records began in 1884 and the honour boards and photographic portraits on the clubroom walls show many well-known colonial identities.

“Many of the street names in Geraldton are from past managers and club members,” Ms McLeod said.

The present manager Glenn Whistler-Carr said the foundation stone for the present Marine Terrace building was laid in 1912, and when it opened, the club occupied the whole of the premises.

“Pipers Lane was the carriage lane and was also there to empty night carts because Foreshore Drive didn’t exist,” he said.

“The roof above the Green Room was a glass atrium to give light from upstairs.”

Mr Whistler-Carr said the building also had tennis courts attached for the first half-century.

“The Geraldton Club still has two squash courts built in the early 60s as a way of getting members to exercise,” Ms McLeod said.

“They turned the tennis courts into squash courts because squash had become trendy.”

She said there had been other changes. “In 1938, toilets were installed,” she said.

“The first woman was allowed to become a member in 1998. Lotterywest funded a conservation plan which we fulfilled in 2015.”

Mr Whistler-Carr said although it was no longer an “old men’s club”, the Geraldton Club still retained its informal business networking function.

“New members are mostly aged 19-28,” he said.

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