history 2017-05-17T11:06:52+00:00

History of the Rotary Club of Launceston Tasmania

Stop Press – 1 August 2012

One of the great recent mysteries of the Rotary Club of Launceston was “What happened to the Past President’s Badges?”

The Past President’s Badges go back to the beginnings of the Club. The first Past President’s Badge was presented to Charter President, Dr John Ramsay at the conclusion of his second term as Club President from 1926/27 by his wife. The jewel in the
badge featured the platypus.

This badge disappeared for some time and in 1931, a second such emblem was presented to the outgoing President at the time, Charles F Monds. About a half a century later, the original Past President’s badge surfaced again, about the time the affairs of Lady Ramsay’s estate were being wound up. The Rotary Club of Launceston now had two unique and precious heirlooms, one of which has been chosen and worn by each new Past President as their badge of office.

Fast forward to about a decade ago and both Past President’s Badges went missing. An explanation of how the badges went missing was not forthcoming. A recent request from the District Governor James Wilcox to see if the Club’s Charter Certificate could
be located prompted Secretary Ian Routley to go up to John Bushby’s office at Prospect and look through a filing cabinet used to store Rotary material. And that’s when he struck gold. Stored away underneath other material was a box. When the box was
opened, Ian and John couldn’t believe their eyes. There were the Past President’s Badges, a President’s Badge and other precious material like a photo of the charter members of the Rotary Club of Launceston.

So now we know what happened to the Past President’s Badges. And the timing is excellent, coming together for the Club’s 90th Anniversary in 2014.

The Platypus, the centrepiece of the club emblem – 8 August 2012

The banner of the Rotary Club of Launceston and the Past President’s Badges feature the platypus as their centrepiece. The platypus is recognisable in the photograph of the Charter members of the Rotary Club of Launceston. The platypus is unique to the
Rotary Club of Launceston. How the platypus came to be the centrepiece of the emblem of the Rotary Club of Launceston is explained in the history of the Rotary Club of Launceston in the “Rotary Global History Fellowship – Brief histories of the Australia.org Clubs”.

To quote from the publication: “The club started with 25 members, men accustomed to lead, not follow, to make their own decisions, to raise their own banner. For them, their Rotary emblem must be unique, different and memorable. A special meeting was held and the platypus was unanimously adopted as the emblem of the Rotary Club of Launceston”.

“At the time, the policy of Rotary International was, and still is, to prohibit the adoption of emblems, logos etc which are not approved by Rotary International. By the time Rotary International heard about the Rotary Club of Launceston in a remote part of the world adopting the platypus as the centrepiece of its emblem, it was too late to do anything about it”.

“The Rotary Club of Launceston’s banner which is displayed at every club meeting is a very important piece of the history of the club”. The question is: “Is the banner that is displayed at club meetings nowadays, the original banner?” Anyone who can provide information about the origin of the club banner is requested to talk to John Dent or Rod Oliver.

Historical Snippetsof the Rotary Club of Launceston – 15 August 2012

In December 1924, it was decided to provide the Salvation Army with the necessary amount to enable Christmas Dinner to be distributed among some of the poor of the City, including both children and old folk. A number of Rotarians interested themselves in this personally and assisted the Adjutant and his staff at the Citadel.

It is most pleasing to see a noticeable improvement in the Choir since Rotarian H.G McCrossin was appointed conductor, and there is little doubt that in the future, will be a feature of luncheons. [Pinion (forerunner to District Governor’s Newsletter), January 1938].

Thursday 18th January (1938) saw the usual monthly visit of Rotarians to the Children’s Hospital. The visit was as much enjoyed by the fellows as the patients. We were glad to note the smallest number of patients for months.

The Formation of the Rotary Club of Launceston (1924)

When the Rotary Club of Launceston Tasmania was chartered in August 1924 the island state of Australia had a population of only 200,000 and was planning the centenary of separation from New South Wales in 1825. It was only a decade after the first aeroplane flight to Tasmania and 12 years before a submarine cable would link the state to mainland Australia, enabling telephone conversations from Tasmania to Victoria. A depression, so severe that 50 percent of breadwinners had no jobs, gripped the land and Sir Hubert Opperman set a cycling record of five hours and fifty nine minutes along a blue stone road from Launceston to Hobart ( more than 200 kilometres).

The leaders of commerce and industry at that time were fine, benevolent, industrious and God- fearing men who with their families typically attended church on Sundays, dressed in their best tailored suits, wore felt hats and most of them smoked pipes. It was observed in a book written by a club member Sir Raymond Ferrall that in those days “only men who smoked a pipe were considered steadfast and trustworthy”.

So it was to a town of 30000 people that Professor W A Osborne and Mr W A Drummond secretary of the then recently (1921) formed Rotary Club of Melbourne Victoria brought the idea of forming a Rotary club in Tasmania. They received little encouragement for several weeks until they met (Sir) Doctor John Ramsay in Launceston and as a result of his enthusiasm on February 18th 1924 the Rotary Club of Launceston came into being and charter 1803 was granted in August of that year by Rotary International.

Launceston had the honour of being the first Rotary club in Tasmania and at the inaugural meeting a telegram was received from Sir Henry Jones (the first president of the Rotary Club of Hobart), “forgiving Launceston for robbing Hobart of its birthright”.
The club started with 25 members, men accustomed to lead, not follow, to make their own decisions, to raise their own banner. For them their Rotary emblem must be unique, different and memorable. A special meeting was called and the platypus was unanimously adopted as the centrepiece of the Rotary emblem for the Rotary Club of Launceston.

View the Rotary Club of Launceston photo Gallery View the Rotary Club of Launceston photo Gallery

Home
Our Club
Programs
Activities
Event Calendar

Our Club
History of the Rotary Club of Launceston Tasmania

A rare 1925 Photo

Stop Press – 1 August 2012

One of the great recent mysteries of the Rotary Club of Launceston was “What happened to the Past President’s Badges?”

The Past President’s Badges go back to the beginnings of the Club. The first Past President’s Badge was presented to Charter President, Dr John Ramsay at the conclusion of his second term as Club President from 1926/27 by his wife. The jewel in the
badge featured the platypus.

This badge disappeared for some time and in 1931, a second such emblem was presented to the outgoing President at the time, Charles F Monds. About a half a century later, the original Past President’s badge surfaced again, about the time the affairs of Lady Ramsay’s estate were being wound up. The Rotary Club of Launceston now had two unique and precious heirlooms, one of which has been chosen and worn by each new Past President as their badge of office.

Fast forward to about a decade ago and both Past President’s Badges went missing. An explanation of how the badges went missing was not forthcoming. A recent request from the District Governor James Wilcox to see if the Club’s Charter Certificate could
be located prompted Secretary Ian Routley to go up to John Bushby’s office at Prospect and look through a filing cabinet used to store Rotary material. And that’s when he struck gold. Stored away underneath other material was a box. When the box was
opened, Ian and John couldn’t believe their eyes. There were the Past President’s Badges, a President’s Badge and other precious material like a photo of the charter members of the Rotary Club of Launceston.

So now we know what happened to the Past President’s Badges. And the timing is excellent, coming together for the Club’s 90th Anniversary in 2014.

The Platypus, the centrepiece of the club emblem – 8 August 2012

The banner of the Rotary Club of Launceston and the Past President’s Badges feature the platypus as their centrepiece. The platypus is recognisable in the photograph of the Charter members of the Rotary Club of Launceston. The platypus is unique to the
Rotary Club of Launceston. How the platypus came to be the centrepiece of the emblem of the Rotary Club of Launceston is explained in the history of the Rotary Club of Launceston in the “Rotary Global History Fellowship – Brief histories of the Australia.org Clubs”.

To quote from the publication: “The club started with 25 members, men accustomed to lead, not follow, to make their own decisions, to raise their own banner. For them, their Rotary emblem must be unique, different and memorable. A special meeting was held and the platypus was unanimously adopted as the emblem of the Rotary Club of Launceston”.

“At the time, the policy of Rotary International was, and still is, to prohibit the adoption of emblems, logos etc which are not approved by Rotary International. By the time Rotary International heard about the Rotary Club of Launceston in a remote part of the world adopting the platypus as the centrepiece of its emblem, it was too late to do anything about it”.

“The Rotary Club of Launceston’s banner which is displayed at every club meeting is a very important piece of the history of the club”. The question is: “Is the banner that is displayed at club meetings nowadays, the original banner?” Anyone who can provide information about the origin of the club banner is requested to talk to John Dent or Rod Oliver.

Historical Snippetsof the Rotary Club of Launceston – 15 August 2012

In December 1924, it was decided to provide the Salvation Army with the necessary amount to enable Christmas Dinner to be distributed among some of the poor of the City, including both children and old folk. A number of Rotarians interested themselves in this personally and assisted the Adjutant and his staff at the Citadel.

It is most pleasing to see a noticeable improvement in the Choir since Rotarian H.G McCrossin was appointed conductor, and there is little doubt that in the future, will be a feature of luncheons. [Pinion (forerunner to District Governor’s Newsletter), January 1938].

Thursday 18th January (1938) saw the usual monthly visit of Rotarians to the Children’s Hospital. The visit was as much enjoyed by the fellows as the patients. We were glad to note the smallest number of patients for months.

The Formation of the Rotary Club of Launceston (1924)

When the Rotary Club of Launceston Tasmania was chartered in August 1924 the island state of Australia had a population of only 200,000 and was planning the centenary of separation from New South Wales in 1825. It was only a decade after the first aeroplane flight to Tasmania and 12 years before a submarine cable would link the state to mainland Australia, enabling telephone conversations from Tasmania to Victoria. A depression, so severe that 50 percent of breadwinners had no jobs, gripped the land and Sir Hubert Opperman set a cycling record of five hours and fifty nine minutes along a blue stone road from Launceston to Hobart ( more than 200 kilometres).

The leaders of commerce and industry at that time were fine, benevolent, industrious and God- fearing men who with their families typically attended church on Sundays, dressed in their best tailored suits, wore felt hats and most of them smoked pipes. It was observed in a book written by a club member Sir Raymond Ferrall that in those days “only men who smoked a pipe were considered steadfast and trustworthy”.

So it was to a town of 30000 people that Professor W A Osborne and Mr W A Drummond secretary of the then recently (1921) formed Rotary Club of Melbourne Victoria brought the idea of forming a Rotary club in Tasmania. They received little encouragement for several weeks until they met (Sir) Doctor John Ramsay in Launceston and as a result of his enthusiasm on February 18th 1924 the Rotary Club of Launceston came into being and charter 1803 was granted in August of that year by Rotary International.

Launceston had the honour of being the first Rotary club in Tasmania and at the inaugural meeting a telegram was received from Sir Henry Jones (the first president of the Rotary Club of Hobart), “forgiving Launceston for robbing Hobart of its birthright”.
The club started with 25 members, men accustomed to lead, not follow, to make their own decisions, to raise their own banner. For them their Rotary emblem must be unique, different and memorable. A special meeting was called and the platypus was unanimously adopted as the centrepiece of the Rotary emblem for the Rotary Club of Launceston.

Rotary International for some time wrestled with the problem of how to deal with an “improper” Rotary emblem being used by a Rotary Club on a remote island off the South Coast of Australia and the Rotary convention of 1932 issued a decree forbidding the “mutilation” of the official emblem.

Fortunately, mail travelled slowly by steamer in those days and the new Past Presidents jewel had been engraved and had begun circulating by the time the word arrived.

It was in the year 1931/32 that RI President Sydney W Pascall visited the Club and planted a tree of friendship in Royal Park . Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, also visited and planted a similar tree in the same park in 1935.

With the great depression still hurting, Rotary commenced a tradition of youth work with the Salvation Army, the Children’s Hospital and Toc H. The second decade of Rotary was dominated by relief work and help given to Red Cross and Red Shield. Clothing and food parcels were sent to Britain during World War 11.

The Post- War decades saw youth work continued with youth camps, a free kindergarten, establishment of recreational and picnic areas and the positioning of a steam railway engine in a park to give countless children a place to play.
The Bring Out A Britain scheme was set up by Rotary in Tasmania in 1956/57 and by 1974 the Club had assisted 144 people to settle in the State.

Many other projects, too numerous to record here, have been undertaken since then and continue to be carried out. The Club has produced five Rotary District Governors and 10 Mayors of the City of Launceston .Many more members have served as Aldermen and held other prominent positions within the City in various avenues of service.

To serve with the Rotary Club of Launceston is an experience of personal development unable to be found elsewhere. The Club’s good works have multiplied as today’s Rotarians continue to write their own pages into the Launceston history.

This entire section was prepared by Rotary Global History board member, Australia project chair, the late PDG John Louttit 24 July 2003

From: ROTARY GLOBAL HISTORY FELLOWSHIP “Rotary’s Memory since 11 October 2000”
“More than history or a fellowship” http://www.rotaryfirst100.org/global/australia/clubs/launceston/