Ranelagh Club visit – Sat 21st May

Saturday 21st May, 6pm – Iconic Pubs and Clubs Tour (3rd Saturday of each month) – Ranelagh Club Mt Eliza

So far in our tour of the iconic clubs and pubs of the Peninsula we’ve visited Jimmy Rum’s in Dromana, The Dava in Mount Martha, and the Mornington Yacht Club.  This month’s it’s Mt Eliza’s turn as we head to the historic Ranelagh Club.

It was formed in 1924 as part of the Ranelagh Estate, Mount Eliza, Victoria which consisted of approximately 280 acres running at right angles from the coast of Port Phillip Bay.  The Ranelagh Estate was designed by internationally renowned Chicago-born architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, with Saxil Tuxen, an established Melbourne surveyor and planner and founding member of the Victorian Town Planning Association.  It was based on the model popular at that time in the US, of a country club within a seaside resort.  Ranelagh was envisaged as a place where Melbourne’s successful professional people would build their holiday houses and enjoy the virtues of the exclusive land and water based recreation activities.

The committee in 1926 resolved to form tennis courts, cricket grounds, a polo ground, areas for archery, hockey croquet, bowling greens and a nine hole golf course along with a 2 storey beach building to house yachts and boats – the cost of which was £100. The eleven stars in the clubs logo represented each of the original eleven sporting events available at the club. The sporting grounds and golf course were later sold and the beach building was suspiciously destroyed in a fire in the late 1960’s prompting development of today’s facilities. This building is shown in this photo taken in the late 1950’s, bottom right.

There were various Ranelagh club houses over the first thirty to forty years. First, a room or two in the Ranelagh Club Guest House, a favoured place for formal afternoon tea and which also housed the popular monthly dances at full moon. At this time, beach activities were focused on the club boathouse.

The Club’s busy social life in the 1950s and 60s was divided between the clubroom attached to the caretaker’s house at the lawn tennis courts and the beach for sailing. Long term residents describe the Club activities then, especially sports, parties, sailing regattas and dances combined with fund raising for the new clubhouse, as vibrant and the focus for the social lives of many.

Holiday houses continued to be built in Ranelagh into the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the early 1960s, the Ranelagh Club built first a motor boat house on the foreshore of Ranelagh beach, then a clubhouse on the cliff above it and the estate appeared to be finally taking shape in the way it was originally intended.

The sixties also saw the committee engage the Royal Australian Army, with left over World War 2 explosives, to blow up 4 of the 9 reefs to allow safety launch and recovery of boats from the new facilities. The campaign was successful although memories from those involved, recalled 30 pound rocks landing where the clubs tennis court now sits!

Today, Ranelagh Club has around 1,500 members and is known as a little slice of paradise located in the Ranelagh Estate in Mt Eliza.  The Club has tennis and sailing activities, private access to Ranelagh Beach and a fully licenced bar and bistro with spectacular views across Port Phillip Bay.

The Ranelagh club will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2025 – and is a worthy addition to our tour of the iconic pubs and clubs tour.  Hope you can join us!

We need bookings for this one so please RSVP to social@mcys.com.au