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Joseph Palmer

1893 - 1964

Joseph Palmer was a prominent member of the Newcastle surf life saving brigade and led the team when they won the NSW championship in 1922. Joseph was an avid surfer and may have met the famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku during his Australian tour in 1915. He kept a postcard of "The duke" and greatly admired the man who won three world records at the Stockholm olympics in 1912.

Joe Palmer was instrumental in introducing surf life - saving to Newcastle in 1908 and was credited with introducing the coloured march past costume to the world's beaches in the mid - 1920s. Joe also introduced the beach girl contest to carnivals as an added attraction.

Joe served in France during World War I and was made a life member of Newcastle surf lifesaving club in 1927. After World War I Joe instigated the reformation of Newcastle Rugby Union and in 1924, with a small group of men reformed the code.

Joe is responsible for the present lifesaving premises on Newcastle beach and was most energetic in raising one thousand pounds towards its final cost of three thousand pounds. It replaced the old shed which was used until 1926. He held every position (except president) in the Newcastle surf club and was a life member of Newcastle rugby union. This collection of material is significant in documenting the Australian surf life saving movement in the 1920s and 1930s.

The images contained within this collection also document how the city of Newcastle has developed over the past eighty years and how beach culture has changed.