The Rotary Club of Melbourne South owes its existence to its parent club the Rotary Club of Melbourne. The Melbourne Club was chartered in April 1921 through the efforts of two Canadian Commissioners JW Davidson and Lt Col JL Ralston under an appointment from the International Association of Rotary Clubs intent on extending Rotary to Australia.

The Melbourne Club formed clubs in the provincial cities but suburban clubs were resisted for a time and was not until Mr. Angus Mitchell, Club President, twice District Governor and the first Australian Rotary International President formulated a plan that the advent of suburban clubs became acceptable and common place.

So it was that in mid April 1952 that the Rotary Club of Melbourne ceded the Parish of Melbourne South which included the the cities of Port Melbourne and South Melbourne.

Rotarian Frank Ayre was accepted by District Governor Rev Harold Ralph of Hobart as the Governor’s Special Representative. Frank was the manager of a large engineering company in Footscray, a director of RC Melbourne and PE 1952-3. His assistant was JT Jock Reid, Director and manager of the James Hardy Group.

The team was resourced by RC Melbourne and members from the Melbourne South area were suggested and included Percy Evans from Hardies, Owen Johns from Johns and Waygood, Jim Nabbs of Malvern Star and Jock Andrews from Australian Paper Manufacturers.

To this group more names were added with retail names of Bert Anderson, Charles Salch, Bill Howarth and Elliot Wells a former mayor of South Melbourne.

Service activities produced Clive Glover of YMCA, Gordon Bull principal of the Technical School and Stan Clarke head of Forest products at CSR.

The manufacturing and Commercial sector were represented by David Bingham Canning Machinery, Paddy Clark saw milling and distribution, Ralph Davies of Mayne Nickless, Jack Feore of Ballantynes, Chris Christen of Tongala Milk, Vic Gole Accounting, Harold Tamper Banking, Arthur Hedley Iron and Steel pipes, Harry Marryatt of Wormalds, Don Whitsed Can Manufacturing and Jack Wilson Electrical Transformers.

These men commenced preliminary meeting at the South Melbourne Town Hall and as the charter members, on the 15th of July 1952, resolved they would form the club and apply for a Charter from Rotary International.

There being no difficulties, the charter was granted on the 5th of August 1952. The club resolved to meet on Tuesday at 12.30pm in a supper room at the South Melbourne Town Hall.

GSR Frank Ayre with Jock Reid’s help assembled a truly representative group to start the new club and it was fortunate that a number had previous Rotary experience and it was from this group that the initial office bearers of the club came.

The first officers were:

President: John Douglas Andrews
Vice President: James Walker Nabbs
Hon. Secretary: Gordon Fredrick Bull
Hon. Treasurer: George Harold Tapner

They were joined by by the first three directors:

David Duncan
William Elliot Wells
Don Whitsed

The Charter Presentation night took place at the South Melbourne Town on the 27th of September 1952. It was a momentous occasion. The Town Hall was filled with visiting Rotarians and their ladies, the Chairman was GSR, now President of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Frank Ayre and the District Governor Harold Ralph inducted the Charter Members and presented the Charter of the Club.

Rotary Melbourne South and Rotary St Kilda

Over many years the Rotary Clubs of Melbourne South and St Kilda have worked diligently within the City of Port Philip to help address issues and create a more successful and caring community.  On many occasions these two great clubs had collaborated on projects to the benefit of all and in doing so we came to realise that there were many synergies and shared goals across our members.  As membership was a challenge for both clubs it was only natural that discussions began to be had around what we could achieve together and in 2015 the clubs were in serious consideration of what benefits were to be had by merging our clubs.  Both Melbourne South and St Kilda had a long and proud history so a great deal of thought was given to acknowledging the achievements of both clubs and their club members.  The merger was not undertaken lightly and there were many issues which needed to be carefully considered but ultimately the joining of the clubs was achieved with due deference to our collective histories.  Fast forward to 2018 and the united club has gone from strength to strength in terms of our vision, goals and financial robustness.  Club meetings are lively and fun and member participation is strong.  Whilst not without some early challenges it is clear that together we are stronger and our united membership is moving steadily forward into the new Rotary year with drive, dedication and purpose.