From “Tea” (Rooms) to Green
The first meeting called, to form a Golf Club on Long Reef Headland, was held on Saturday 14th. May 1921 at the TWIGHT’S TEA ROOMS, COLLAROY.
Ninety years later we celebrate the 90th Birthday of the Club, and a continuing connection with the Twight family through our member Betty Twight. Betty is married to Dick, the Grandson of the original builder and owner of the Tea Rooms. Dick retired from Golf in 2008, due to ill health after 40 years of very active membership of the Club. Betty continues to be a consistent and successful golfer of the full 18-hole Ladies competition
Photo – Florence, and son Charles, with other son Norman and Stanley sitting.
Stanley and Florence Twight, Dick’s Grandparents were pioneers in the development of Collaroy, and a park above the swimming pool in Collaroy was named in their honour in the 30’s which can still be seen today. Below is a simple family tree –
Stanley and Florence
Norman (m. Adele) – Charles
Stanley – Richard (Dick) (m. Betty) – Norman – Roger
James (m. Gill)
Jackson – Elle – Casey – Damon
Photo -Dick in the park named after his Grandparents
Stanley senior had first visited Collaroy from Marrickville, as a boy, with his father, in the family’s horse and buggy. He was so impressed with the fishing that he resolved that he would live in Collaroy one day. He did return in 1896 with his New Zealander wife Florence, after he had bought a 6-acre, Nelson Apple Orchard and an old house. It was situated in the area around what we know to be The Avenue today. Florence was far from pleased with the run down house, but was persuaded to stay if Stanley would buy them their own cow!
The fruit grew well in fertile conditions with water run off from The Plateau, but campers and picnickers stole a lot of fruit. Stanley had an eye to the future and tried to develop the land, but was unhappy with the suggested subdivision, so decided to sell.
He could see that Collaroy was due to change with the extension of the tramline from Brookvale to Narrabeen. Florence had always wanted to open a Tea House. Surf Bathing was becoming more popular with the raising of restrictions on swimming, and they pictured Collaroy as an ideal place for day-trippers who would need refreshment.
Three blocks of land with a 50-yard frontage on the eastern side of Pittwater road was purchased and the new owner of the orchard let them live on in the orchard’s house while the new plot was developed.
The orchard was sold in 1910, and the Twight Tea Rooms became the first commercial Building to be built in Collaroy on the land we now see as car park and play area next to the surf Club, on the south side.
The long 70-foot building was opened in 1912, and also included living accommodation.
As Dick’s father Norman, says in the Narrabeen School Memoirs, “At that time seven people owned the whole beach from Narrabeen to Collaroy.” “Within two years the tea rooms had generated sufficient income to allow Florence to buy further blocks of land”.* This was followed by the opening of the Twight and Frazer Real Estate office. This building can be seen on several old photos of Collaroy on the right hand side as you face north, between Ocean Grove and the Beach.
Photo -The roof of the Tea Rooms can be seen between the tops of the trees, at the south end of Collaroy Beach. 1912
Photo -The Twight and Frazer Property Agency – Pittwater Road, Collaroy
It is hardly surprising that living as close to the water as is it possible to be, even on the sand itself, that Dick and his family should be so involved in Beach life. The Tea Rooms not only served teas but also would provide hot water for flasks, and sold and hired out swimming costumes. It was close to the then newly constructed Surf Club, and the older Ladies Bathing Sheds.
The size of the interior of the Tea Rooms made it an ideal meeting place for the growing community. The Progress Association met there, as did the Tennis Club, and in 1921 the Golf Club. The Cricket Club also held its first meeting in the Tea Rooms.
Although the Collaroy end of the beach was better protected for the beginner swimmer, it could still be dangerous at times. The Council did provide Life Line ropes on the Beach, but essentially encouraged the development of volunteer surf clubs. Finally a meeting of Community leaders was held at the Twight’s Tea Rooms, including Stan Twight on Friday 11 August 1911 and all agreed that a Surf Club to protect the Bathers at Collaroy should be formed. It was structured and officers elected.
Photo – Dick and Stan Twight in the area outside the Tea Rooms
Photo –Norm Twight driving the family car outside the Tea Rooms
Norman and his wife Adele, Dick’s parents, took over running the Tea House in 1923. However The Golf Club Meetings, May 14th, May 21st and May 28th 1921 were held while Stanley was still in charge. The Golf Clubs Minute Books tell us that Stanley attended the three formation Meetings that were held at the Tea Rooms, or Tea Hall, as it is also referred to in the Minutes, and with a committee established, he resigned his interest at the first Committee Meeting held at the house of Mr R.H. Judd in June. This is recorded in the List of Members ledger of the time. On all occasions ‘Mr Twight” was thanked for the use of the Tea House in the Minutes. The Tea Rooms continued to be used for larger Golf Club Meetings until their own Club House was opened in 1923.
Dick was born four years after the establishment of the Golf Club, and there were many years of Course and Club development before Dick went on to join as a golfer in 1968. In the meantime the life long relationship with the Beach and the Surf Club began. The Tea Rooms had no fences on its Boundary and was open to the beach. On very busy days in the Tea Rooms, Adele, Dick’s Mum, felt more relaxed knowing that the four boys could not wander off, from the secure position of attaching them to a line that ran the length of the washing line. They still had plenty of room and freedom to run and play, although they were tethered!
Norman, Dick’s father, was a Foundation member of the Surf Club, but allowed Dick and Stanley to join in their own time. They joined as teenagers. Dick joined in 1939 at thirteen years of age. Stanley Twight Senior had been President a few years before, and resigned in 1936, and died in 1937.
In the book “Vigilant and Victorious” a history of the Surf Club up until 1995 by Sean Browley, it is easy to see what a major role the Surf Club institution made to the local families’ social life. At the same time a Life Saving service was at hand and the healthy activity of physical competition and fitness was a by product. The Twights were right at the heart of it. The Book best explains Dick’s role, and ten other Twights are listed in the index. There are 84 references to Dick in the book, recognising his Junior, Senior and Senior Belt Championships. He was a senior boat team Member, and not only competed in Carnivals but took his place in a series of hazardous rescues. There is one well-documented story of the surf Club members having a game of Rugby interrupted at GriffithPark to save the lives of six fishermen. Dick was sweep of the boat that day.
Dick was not only a committee member, leader and mentor; he represented the State and also Australia in New Zealand and South Africa as an Instructor in Rescue techniques. He was particularly proud of being a member of the 1946 Championship Boat Crew, as the Sweep of the boat.
James and his family have continued the family tradition of Surf Club service.
Jamie joined Nippers first and then the Surf Club, which he enjoyed until the pleasures of Board riding took over. He is now a member of North Narrabeen Board riders Club with his three sons, Jackson, Casey and Damon. The three boys and sister Elle were all in Nippers for a few years.
Meanwhile the Council resumed the land on the Beachfront in the 30’s, and it was time for the Twights to move on. The coastline was very unstable and Dick once saw a House washed out to sea. Across the road, behind the cinema, in Alexander Street they went on to build two blocks of flats, which are still there. For some time Dick’s parents owned a Milk Bar on Pittwater Road, Collaroy, and lived above it with Stanley and Dick. Later they moved back in to the flats.
Photo – The Surf boat named in Dick’s honour. Donated by Mc Williams, when the time came for a replacement boat, as stipulated by the sponsor, the boat was passed on to a needy life-saving area. This boat went on to France.
Throughout this time Collaroy and Long Reef were becoming more and more popular as a holiday and weekend destination. Many people continued to camp and caravan along the shore and in the Basin and on the edge of the Golf Course. But gradually the Basin and Collaroy became more and more developed with both holiday cottages and permanent residencies. Many country people would come every year. These included Patsy McConnell’s family from Moree, and Tibby Playfair and Barbara Maladay’s families.
Dick joined the Air force in 1943, and the war ended before he could be sent overseas. On his return to Collaroy he started a haulage business with his older brother.
They ran a pantechnicon truck, delivering and removing furniture mainly, and general carrying, and later Trade Waste. Around his working day Dick’s love and commitment to the Surf Club continued. He also played Rugby and was a foundation member of the Manly Leagues Club. In the case of both Rugby and Golf, the Surf Club Saturday Carnivals had priority in the summer.
Betty who was born in Cottesloe, in Perth WA, in 1929, worked there as a Ledger Machinist, for Elders Smith, the Stock and Station Agents. Betty set out on a working holiday to Sydney with three friends in 1951. Where should they rent, but at the flats built and run by the Twight family in Alexander Street, Collaroy. Down in the flat below a group of surf Club members would hold a party every weekend, and the lads were more than taken with having four young ladies living upstairs. The girls were invited to one of these parties and this is where Betty and Dick met. They became engaged ten months later.
Betty sailed back to Perth with one of her girlfriends on the ship, “The Westralia.” On her return she got a job and started saving. Dick followed and also worked, until the family arrived for the wedding in 1952. Dick’s parents and two of his brothers attended the wedding. The honeymoon was in Geraldton, and then Dick and Betty made their was back to Sydney on the ship, the “Oronsay”. In 1952 they arrived with the grand total of five pounds between them, so it was back to the flats in Alexander Street.
Dick and his brother continued the business for a short time and Betty did the bookwork.
Betty and Dick had no idea what changes their meeting and then marrying in Perth was to have on Dick’s whole family. On the families’ return from the wedding, Dick’s older brother Stanley announced that he was so impressed with WA he was heading back. He gave Dick first refusal to buy him out of the Business, which Dick did over a period of time. Not only did Stanley leave, in time younger brothers Norman and Roger went to WA too, and they never came back to live in NSW again. So not only had Betty left her family in Perth, Dick now had his brothers there.
Photo. On the left Betty’s parents, Jim and May Boddington, and Dick’s parents Norman and Adele Twight. Taken at Betty and Dick’s wedding. 1952
In time Dick and Betty were able to build their own home at the top of Anzac Avenue with views to the Ocean, where they stayed for the next forty-seven years. This is where their son James (Jamie) grew up. Betty and the family were able to make lots of trips back to Perth to visit her parents, some time by plane, and sometimes by putting a car on the train with them, and driving one way.
Dick and Betty joined Long Reef Golf Club together in 1968. Dick had played before at Bayview, on Wednesdays. When at Long Reef Dick played on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they played Mixed together most Sundays. To this day Betty has been a regular player in the ladies’ Tuesday and Thursday competitions. As recently as June 2011 she was the C-Grade winner for the day. Along with her good friend Nancye Hohnen, they have a steady short game and the ability to hit straight up the middle, something we all admire, as well as their fitness, vitality and enthusiasm. Betty has her name on the Hole-in one Board, but not to be outdone you will see Dick’s name there twice.
As had happened with the Surf Club Dick became fully involved with the Golf Club. He was elected to the Committee, and served as Captain. He was heavily involved with the lakes building project, and as a Manager for a Trade Waste Company at the time was able to get the use of their machines to dig the big holes when they were not busy else where.
Dick and Betty moved to the War Vets Retirement Village when they sold their home at the top of Anzac Avenue, Collaroy. Betty continues to live there since Dick’s death in 2013.
Photo- Elle, Damon, Gill, Jamie, Casey, Jackson Twight.
Photo – Dick and Betty
(RICHARD) DICK TWIGHT
- 22 July 1926
- Betty 1952
Joined the golf club 1968, retired because of ill health in 2008 -40 years of membership.
LRGC Captain – 1982-84
LRGC Committee Member 1974-77
President, Captain and Life Member of the Collaroy Surf Club and the Northern Branch
AWARDED THE OAM on the 11 June 1990 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for fifty years of Service to the Surf Club and Association.
Foundation Member of the Manly Leagues Club.
Betty says of Dick-
“He was very honest and fair in business, family and friends. He was a thoughtful and generous husband, father and grandfather. He was competitive in sport and tried to inspire younger members to their full potential.
He was sensitive to criticism, always tried to do his best in Office, but complaints affected him personally.
Parents in the area could see the benefit from the discipline in competitive sports and he got phone calls asking him to apply “pressure” to their sons to get them join the surf club.”
Thanks to Betty for photos and information
– Memories of Narrabeen and its Public School – Nan Bosler.
-Pictorial Memories, Manly to Palm Beach –Alan Sharpe
-Collaroy Basin – Sandra Jobson Darroch *
-Vigilant and Victorious – Sean Brawley.
Originally Compiled by Sandra Mellowes in July 2011