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Surf life saving costume from West Australian Leonard Trainor

Date: 1930s
Overall: 760 × 360 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Johanna Trainor
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00054298

User Terms

    This collection of surf life saving memorabilia and apparel from Western Australian surf life saver Leonard Trainor dates from the 1930s and includes his swimsuit, cap, formal blazer and photographs. Leonard Trainor was a carpenter and an 'everyman' in surf life saving movement volunteering and competing from 1932, initially with the City Beach, City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club, and then with the Scarborough Club from about 1936. He was a member of the Western Australian State Surf Life Saving Team from 1934 to 1938 and also competed in swimming events.

    This material reflects the growth of surf life saving into a national movement in the interwar years, one which was proud of its heritage, sportsmanship and pageantry, and its genesis in voluntary self sacrifice with links to war service.
    SignificanceThis surf life saving costume from WA surf life saver Leonard Trainor comprises the swimsuit emblazoned with the WA State team insignia, the cap in state colours and the formal blazer and is a rare ensemble valuable to ANMM because it is provenanced and dated and accompanied by photographs of Trainor as a surf life saver at the club house and in carnivals wearibng the apparel. They includeearly patrols at City Beach and his representation in the WA State team in the national titles on the beach.

    More specifically though, material representing Western Australia shows the growth of surf life saving into a national movement in the interwar years, one which was proud of its heritage, sportsmanship and pageantry, and its genesis in voluntary self sacrifice, with links to war service and exemplified by its national competition as much as its life saving service.

    In terms of national representation this WA story of Leonard Trainor, an 'everyman' in the WA team would be a highlight and in any interpretive program would complement the few badged costumes in the ANMM Collection - WA City Beach - coincidentally where Trainor first patrolled on joining the movement, Coff's Jetty, North beach near Wollongong and in Sydney Palm Beach and Cronulla.
    HistoryInformation supplied by Johanna Trainor

    Leonard Rotchford Trainor was born 11 June 1911 in Castlemaine Victoria. He moved to WA with his parents Bernard Trainor and Juliana (nee Cadlolo) in about 1913 - his father was a forester with the WA Forestry Department. He initially lived in South Perth on the South Perth Pine Plantation with his parents.
    Trainor’s schooling was to 2nd year high school in the Catholic Education System. Len told me that he wasn’t that interested in school so the priests had him doing odd jobs around the place (as opposed to encouraging him to engage with his schooling).
    He appeared to have commenced his surf life saving career in 1932. Initially served with the City of Perth surf life-saving club then moved to the Scarborough club around 1936. (see attached photograph of City of Perth SLC circa 1934). He would have patrolled City Beach and Scarborough Beach.
    He was a member of the Western Australian State Surf Life Saving Team from 1934 to 1938. And as mentioned participated as member of the WA Team in the Inter- Dominion Surf Life-Saving Competition in Sydney in 1938.
    He participated in other swimming events such as the Quick Surf Cup (where he came 3rd) and the McGovern Cup endurance events (where he came 1st) – see attached.
    He also played Australian Rules football with the Perth Metro Juniors from 1932 and also played with the Perth Football Team in 1938 (see attached).
    Trainor commenced an apprenticeship with Aherns Ltd in April 1928 as a cabinet maker and was awarded his Furniture Trade Award on 12th June 1933. I presume he continued to work for Aherns through out the 1930s until he moved to H.A. Doust Builder and Contractor where he was employed as a carpenter from 1937 to 1939. He enlisted in the RAAF on 30 January 1940 where he worked as a carpenter rigger at the Geraldton Air Force Base. He attained the rank of Sargent in the RAAF and was discharged on 16 October 1945.
    After the war he returned to work for H.A. Doust Master Builder as a carpenter and leading hand for two more years. In 1947 he worked as a general foreman for the Building and Joinery firm of Bickerdike and Sullivan till October 1951. From 1955 til 1958 he worked in the position of foreman for the F.A Browne & Co. Pty Ltd Building Contractors. From here he went to work for his cousin in Broome, Port Headland and Derby for a period of approximately 10 years. After returning to live and work in Palmyra working for Alcoa until he retired.
    He married Doreen Elsie Trainor (nee Sullivan) on 1st January 1944. Doreen was a corporal in the WAAF and they met at the Air Force Base. They moved to Palmyra near Fremantle, WA and Len built their family home at 40 Baal St. Palmyra where he lived until his death in 1993.
    They had five children Leonard Archer b. 1945, Bernard Oscar b.1947, Silda Maria b.1949, David Roy b. 1951 and myself Johanna Jane b.1953.
    For little more information on a family history website that I put together with text that my mother wrote plus photographs of their wedding and Len in his RAAF uniform.

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