Charles Gordon Drummond 1906-1975 – CG Drummond Trophy
This article by Leigh Robinson first appeared in the Christmas 1993 edition of the Wanderer, and gives some insight into the man behind the C. G. Drummond Trophy as well as some of the history of the club.
It was in the early fifties that the C.G. Drummond Race became part of the G.L.Y.C.’s sailing programme, possibly, from my records, the 1952-53 season.
The race is to be sailed annually, in appreciation of the continued services rendered to the club by Mr. C.G. Drummond. The trophy to be purchased each year at the club’s expense and presented to the winner.
In presenting to the members of today my memories of Charlie, with the assistance of friends and his family, no apology will be given for any slight discrepancy that may occur in this article. Time takes its toll on memories and I have found in research that different people all involved in some of Charlie’s projects have distinctly different views on what happened at that time. Henri Frederic Amiet must surely have had Charlie in mind when he wrote -“It is not what he has that directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is”.
Charlie was a unique man -a true blue “Aussie Battler” -a wonderful husband to Belle, and a loving ,caring father to their seven children. A man with a quick wit, a dry sense of humour and a heart of gold.
He was born at Reedy Flat in 1906 and later lived in Orbost where his father had a brickyard. His Dad never returned from the first world war, Charlie and his brother eventually shifting to Bairnsdale. He went to Bairnsdale Technical School with woodwork his favourite subject, later becoming a carpenter and joiner. It was in May 1930 that he married Lillian Isobelle Peck, known to all as “Belle”. Their marriage produced seven children, Joan, Janette, Charlie, David, Peter, Michael and Murray. Charlie passed on to the Big Regatta whilst living in Marlo in 1975, survived by Belle and all the family to this day.
During the Depression years -the early thirties -he worked as a sleeper cutter at Bulumwaal with a tent for a home. They were hard times but Charlie was a survivor. He then became foreman at J.C. Dahlsen’s joinery shop for many years, one of his apprentices being local builder Bill Turner, who later worked for Charlie when he went into business house building with our Secretary of those early years, Bryan James. Bryan told me the other day that they stayed in business just long enough to go broke – about four years.They were hard times for builders with materials very hard to come by.
Harold Rash, our Commodore at the time, employed Charlie to build “Willow Grove” homestead at Fernbank. After the home was built Harold And Una employed Charlie for some fifteen years. Harold purchased an old home at Maffra and moved it on to the property. Charlie renovated it and that was their home for the entirety of their stay at the “Rash’s.
About 1958 Harold had Maurice Griffiths – an English Naval Architect of Royal Patronage and a specialist in shallow draft deep sea cruising yachts – design him a sloop some 36 -37 feet long.
Fred Sutherland – Lakes Entrance Harbour Master and Boatbuilder, and father of Jack whom some of us schooled and sailed with, retired at this time and also went to “Willow Grove”.
Fred and Charlie built the yacht, first named Nurenderi (aboriginal for native spirit), over the next six years. Fred moved on before it was finished to live in Kyneton, Charlie fitting out the interior, and the man I first worked with in the trade in Melbourne 1947 was employed to caulk it. Jim McCarrick, a product of the Paynesville shipyard and a great shipwright still alive today at the extended care section of the Bairnsdale Regional Hospital. After Harold’s death the boat was sold to Tom Hackett who cruised with her North – she was renamed by Tom, becoming “Kismet” and later sold to a doctor from Eden I believe.
Back to Charlie and G.L.Y.C. Opening Day 1945 Charlie and his good mate Ray Dorrington, who is still cutting hair in Bairnsdale, arrived at the club with their Super Sunray class boats, “J.D.” and “Naomi”. They were American designed day sailers something like a small Star class. More about them later. .
To get to the club in those days on the site at the foot of Rick Hill’s home they used to ride their bikes from Bairnsdale until they got the old Fiat going. When the time came to shift the clubhouse because Mr. Tilley wanted his land back the club had four options. The present site, a site on Raymond Island near the point, one where the Cruiser Club house is, where we had already established a long “L” shaped jetty, or on the foreshore at Eagle Point.
To get the building materials away from the backwater situation it was decided to clear a track through the heavy ti-tree in preference to carrying it up the steep hill to load it. .
Charlie was the organiser of dismantling with George Legg as his first Lieutenant.Bryan told me he can still picture George on the top plate in his sand shoes with a long crow bar clenched inside his arms showing the others how to lever off materials without damaging them. For those who haven’t heard of George he was our inspirational wizard who built and raced sailing and speed boats, was a plumber by trade, made wrought iron gates and doors, t.v. antennaes, fished, shot ducks, and anything else you could think of without any hands, only two stumps.
Ray assures me that while they were breaking the path through the ti-trees it was possible to be at a working bee and not meet the people at the other end. He also told me that Eddie Williams, another member, did the gear box in on his bus three times snigging out the trees. No permission was ever sought for this venture – imagine how many uniforms you would have running around today.
All materials were known to Charlie – not marked – kept in his head.
Then came the stumbling block -the building as was wouldn’t fit on the present site. Redesigning was necessary as there was too much iron and timber was almost impossible to obtain. Charlie fixed it – he sold some of the iron to a farmer in exchange for some timber then prefabbed the whole building on a site near the Main Street ambulance station. Everything was marked this time so that the building could be erected in a weekend to overcome public outcry. Charlie and crew of members moved it out on a Saturday morning and it was up and finished on the Sunday night and then the screams started. Where did they get the materials, how come they can build for pleasure and we can’t get any materials, who suppied them, who let them build there, and so on. We all knew if it hadn’t been for Charlie’s planning it could have been stopped.
When the move came for the extension – the existing clubhouse – Charlie designed the whole thing. Overcame the engineer’s highly expensive footings project by the use of railway sleepers as a mat, and organised all the working bees. If it was a 10 am start you could rest assured that Charlie, George and Alby Howlett would be there at 7 am getting organised for the troops.
Charlie was one of the finest club members we have ever had, not a financially wealthy man – far from it – but a loyal man willing to get on with the task no matter how great. Charlie also made the G.L.Y.C. Perpetual Trophy (the lifebuoy and bell) and quite a few miniatures that were presented to the winners in the early days.
Now I would like to tell you of some of the lighter and humorous sides of his life and one of mine. Firstly he built with the help of Ray Dorrington, “J.D. ” and “Naomi”, then a Star class for Jefferson Jones called “Alor Star”. Jeff later became Commodore at Sandringham Y.C. I sailed” Alor Star” myself one Boxing, Day Regatta, a beautifully balanced boat that would sail herself to windward on a light day. Bill Turner was forward hand this day. I was lying on the floor concentrating on the jib luff and Bill was keeping me entertained with topics of the day and the night before when I went to sleep. Next thing I know he was kicking me and abusing me for leaving him talking to himself. Charlie built a comfortable boat when he built that one.
Charlie then built himself a family boat – a heavy weight Sharpie he named “Sasair” – derived from sunshine and sea air. I had “Joyette” at the time and Charlie’s “Sasair” was half as heavy again as my boat – she went straight through everything. I passed him one day out there with all the big kids lined up on the side and the little fellows looking out between them from the inside of the boat. “Sasair” being so wet Charlie kept himself warm on the cold days with an army great coat with a bit of old hay band around the middle for a belt, no style, just practical comfort for his position along side the tiller on the stern deck, as there wasn’t any room for him on the side most times.
Charlie’s Fiat was always lopsided when the family left it. I could never work out how they all fitted in. It was lopsided because it only had a spring on one side – the other being sprung on a piece of timber, and it had been like that since the end of the war. Tyres were impossible to get so they rode their bikes until one day they went to the Bairnsdale tip and found four tyres that had been previously used to form a garden bed. They were brought home cleaned out and wired on to Charlie’s rims and then filled with rubbish. I queried this and said what about tubes – no tubes just rubbish and then wired up the holes the rubbish had been poked in through.They drove up to Paynesville for a couple of years on those “tyres” using power kerosene that Charlie would barter off farmers in return for dressing up some timber.
Charlie loved his cup of tea, but never liked it from the billy. Ray said no matter where, they rode their bikes to to sail, be it Eagle Point or Paynesville, the first thing the group did was boil the billy. Before the tea went in Charlie would pull out his silver tea pot from his bike bag and make his before the billy was swung. The silver tea pot always seemed out of place but Charlie would not have his tea any other way.
When out at Harold and Una’s place the first major job on “Nurenderi” was to pour the keel. The plan was to heat the lead in an old cast iron bath tub then open the valve fitted to the plug hole and feed the lead into the mould. Charlie was adamant that the brass fitting used would melt down with the heat of the red gum fire. The lead duly melted but before the pour took place the brass fitting melted letting all the lead pour onto the ground. Charlie let them know well and truly that he’d told them so.
When Charlie and Bryan James set up their house building business in the late 40’s they became owners of a 1936 Ford V8 panel van. They also bought an old trailer off Osmond Oay at Paynesville fitted with old Essex wooden spoke wheels.
Building materials being scarce in Victoria and Bren Thomson then managing a stock and station agency in Bombala had a good friend managing the local hardware who had plenty of nails and much cheaper than Victoria.
Bryan and Charlie hooked the trailer up and set off for Bombala and purchased among other things, 10cwt of nails and decided to continue on the better road to Eden, get some fish and head off down the highway, instead of coming back on the Cann Valley with all the weight.
As they were going down the mountain to the coast on the gravel road the trailer with its half ton of nails and other things started to push them along. Bryan was trying to drop the Ford back to second gear and brake at the same time and told Charlie to get the handbrake, between the seats, on as hard as he could. With a bend in the road coming up he glanced at Charlie and saw he had his feet braced on the fire wall and both hands on the handbrake pulling so hard the veins in his neck stood out like cords and sweat rolling down his brow.
They negotiated the bend only to be confronted by a large sign – DANGER STEEP DESCENT AHEAD. Bryan finally got second gear and they survived the mad dash down the mountain but were speechless until their hearts settled down.
Another day, same trailer but now extended to take “Sasair ” to the club, they were bringing a load of long timber from Bruthen up the Sandhill with Charlie driving. Nearly three quarters way up the hill Charlie said “I don’t think she’s going to make it mate”, then a short time later, “She’s picking up now she must have been running on six!” Prompting Bryan to look out the back – you’ve guessed it – no trailer on the back but heading striaght back down the hill at a great rate of knots. When it finally crashed the timber embedded itself into the ground like asparagus spears. Much work later, loaded again, securely fixed and up over the sandhill and home.
When Charlie and Ray built the Super Sunrays they followed the instructions to the letter.Leave a good gap between the planks on their staved bottoms so they can tighten up in the water, then launched them on the sandbank between the wharf and the railway bridge into the Mitchell to do just that. Only trouble was the kids got into them straight away and sand filled the seams and the boats leaked until dried and cleaned out. I asked Ray who made the sails remembering them to be very flat. We made them ourselves was the reply, took ages to get enough clothing coupons to buy the materials. Ray took the chairs out of the barber shop, drove some nails in the floor and stretched some string around them to shape and then rolled the three foot wide cloth over cutting it to the string line, then sewed it up. It took ages to put the rope on the luff and foot, and then the first time they sailed it all stretched and the foot had to be cut off and the rope sewed on again. It stretched and was cut many, many times. It was flat – flat as the barber shop floor.
In my early years the meetings were always held at Ray’s barber shop. Commodore Jack Lloyd in the chair and the rest of us sitting around like customers.If any of you present day fellows want a laugh go and get your hair cut and get Ray to tell you a few tales from those early days. He’s on the east side of McDonalds in Main Street.
Charlie’s best mate was Ray. One more story on Charlie from Ray before I finish. It involves Commodore Jack Lloyd and Presentation Night in the Paynesville Mechanics Hall. If I’m wrong here I’m sure Arthur Renowden will let me know the true story. I was present but far too involved with other things to remember the facts.
Jack was on board “Wanderer” having a few drinks before going to the hall. Stepping off “Wanderer” he fell into the Straits with an armful. of trophies. After getting Jack out they dip-netted all the trophies out of the mud. Jack went up to “The Cottage”, Bren Thomson’s parents place to dry out, change clothes and have a few coffees – black. Arthur got the job of going back to Jack’s store for replacement trophies and writing new cards for them.
The trophy that Charlie Drummond had won was a donated painting of a fully rigged ship – not possible to replace and not damaged, just wet.
With the few in the know making all sorts of excuses for the delay at the hall, the time soon went by and the show started. It came to the presentation of Charlie’s trophy. As Jack congratulated him and passed the painting over he tilted it and water started to run out of the corner of the frame. Apparently those not in the know of events earlier in the Straits couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Charlie’s instantaneous remark was “Looks like someone already scuttled her Jack!” – which brought the house down as they all cracked up with laughter.
Well Bill, the jobs done, my thanks to Belle, Una, Toby, Bryan, Ray, Jack, Kath and Bren for their help in getting the facts right. I hope you all have had as much fun reading this as I have had compiling it. All of you old timers out there with a story to tell, what about getting the brain into gear the pen in hand and write a note for the “Wanderer”.
To all yachties off to National and States, men and women, girls and boys, good luck with your venture.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all,
Jeanette, Leigh Robinson and Family.