Historic Henley Beach


Boy how times have changed, from the Henley Beach 100 years ago to the Henley beach today. I know this area really well, when I was a pup this was my playground, the Cameron family set up camp here in the 50s. But to really appreciate what has changed in Henley beach it pays to look back.

If we look back to the years after the First World War, we’d see Henley Beach becoming more and more popular, and this imposing structure perched on a platform at the end of the jetty. This was the Henley Beach Pavilion, three floors of Devonshire teas, fine music, and ocean views. Imagine how swish you’d have felt up there!!! Surprisingly, it fought off a series of storms for 30 years until it was finally demolished in 1945.

The Henley Kiosk, however, is still standing, but you can see it’s changed its face to suit the times. This, and all of the buildings on the south side of the Henley Square were developed in the early 1900’s by the metropolitan tramways trust to try and lure people onto its trams, after all, what’s the use of getting people to go to the beach if there’s nothing there!

Henley Beach also boasts the first surf life saving club in SA established in 1925 And its still going, sadly what hasn’t survived though is the legendary Henley Pool, it was in this area where I’m standing now. All that’s left, these three starting blocks.

Just like the pavilion on the end of the jetty, the pool also took some pretty severe poundings. It survived the storm in 1948 that splintered the jetty at Glenelg. It’s back was broken by another lashing in 1953. That problem was solved by pouring masses of concrete into the pool, the only problem was, the deep end disappeared and not long after, so did the diving boards!

As you can see there have been periods in time when Henley Square was extremely popular. I remember in the 50s and 60s the Henley Carnival would be here – the favourites? The Pole Sitters!

I loved the sideshows, and despite a young boy’s concern about the call of nature, I was fascinated by the pole sitters. No such thing as ‘oc’ health and safety back then, it was pretty basic stuff and how flimsy do those platforms seem!

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