To commemorate 100 years since the Armistice, we would like to introduce you to 100 members of Caulfield RSL over the next 100 days
Sir Frank Beaurepaire
Sir Francis Joseph Edmund (Frank) Beaurepaire (1891-1956), sportsman, businessman and civic leader, was born on 13 May 1891 in Melbourne. At Albert Park State School, and later at Wesley College, he showed skill in several sports and an unusual talent for swimming.
Beaurepaire was dark-haired and stocky, with exceptionally powerful shoulders. He won his first Victorian titles in 1906 at the age of 14, and in 1908 won three titles in the national championships at Perth. That year he made his first trip overseas, to represent Australia at the Olympic Games in London. He won the English half-mile and mile championships. At the Olympics Beaurepaire took second place in the 400 metres and third in the 1500 metres, and was fourth in a 100 metres semi-final. He also won races in France, Germany and Belgium before returning home.
1910 was Beaurepaire's greatest year in competitive swimming. With twelve Australian championships to his credit he was sent on a European tour, in the course of which he set world records for 300 yards and for 200, 300 and 500 metres, and won seven English titles—from 100 yards to the mile—six of them in record time. He was undefeated in forty-one championships and first-class races, and the Helms Athletic Foundation of America awarded him its trophy for the best athlete of the year.
In 1911, when Beaurepaire became a swimming instructor with the Victorian Education Department, he was declared a professional and debarred from amateur competition. He indulged an interest in motor cycling with an attempt on the 24-hour endurance record, riding a Triumph around Albert Park Lake.
With the outbreak of war Beaurepaire enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was posted as a second lieutenant, but became medically unfit after a serious appendicitis attack. In 1916 he went overseas as a Young Men's Christian Association commissioner, serving with the 1st and 3rd Divisions in England and France, and gaining warm commendation from Sir John Monash for his work. He was invalided out in 1918, after an attack of trench fever. In July 1915 he had married Myra Gertrude, daughter of newspaper proprietor N. B. McKay, and niece of H. V. McKay, at the Presbyterian Church, Albert Park.
After the war Beaurepaire did not return to his position as an instructor, and worked for a time as an insurance salesman. Eligible once again to compete as an amateur, he made a remarkable comeback. At the Antwerp Olympic Games of 1920 (where his sister Lily was also a representative) he was unplaced in the 400 metres final, but came third in the 1500 metres and was one of the team which came second in the 800 metres relay race. In 1921, while living in Sydney, he won five titles in the Australian championships, helping to win the Kieran Shield for New South Wales as he had earlier won it for Victoria. In 1924, in Paris, he competed in the Olympic Games for the last time, taking third place in the 1500 metres final and second place yet again in the 800 metres relay race. It is remarkable that in so brilliant a career, having held fifteen world records, Beaurepaire never won first place in an Olympic final.
A man of much mental as well as physical energy, Beaurepaire found a suitable sphere of business enterprise when, with a Canadian acquaintance, he formed the Advanx Tyre Repair Co. in Sydney in 1920. In 1922 he decided to return to Melbourne, and founded the Beaurepaire Tyre Service there, with his brother-in-law Oscar McKay as partner. The business prospered, thanks largely to Beaurepaire's skill in choosing staff with the necessary technical abilities, and his persuasive qualities as salesman and promoter. In 1928 he won a by-election for Gipps Ward and became a Melbourne city councillor. He was one of the chief sponsors of the proposal to hold the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, following his experiences as a competitor, he believed Australia and Victoria could do it better. He attended meetings of the International Olympic Committee in London and Helsinki, and of the International Olympic Conference in Rome, and was for a time chairman of the Victorian Olympic Council and of the Olympic Games Organizing Committee. In 1933 he formed the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Co. Pty Ltd by 1952 its paid-up capital was £3,500,000. Production of electric cables was begun in 1940, with profitable war-time government contracts, and Olympic Cables Ltd was formed as a separate company. In 1953 Olympic Consolidated Industries was formed as a holding company for all Beaurepaire enterprises.
In 1940-42 Beaurepaire was Lord Mayor, one of 5 Caulfield members to do so. He, with the assistance of Caulfield members was especially active in raising wartime patriotic and charitable funds. He was knighted in 1942, and in the same year was elected to the Legislative Council, where he sat until 1952. He was an unsuccessful United Australia Party candidate for the Senate in 1943. His political views were generally conservative, but he was more interested in fostering particular projects than in ideological positions.
Beaurepaire was very active in support of the Herald Learn-to-Swim campaign, which he helped to found in 1929 and which he served as president for twenty-four years. He fostered the installation of municipal swimming pools, and also financed a dressing-room complex at Albert Park. Among many acts of philanthropy, the largest was the gift of £200,000 to the University of Melbourne for a sports centre.
With the awarding of the games to Melbourne, it was expected that Sir Frank would be Lord Mayor when the games started. His sudden death at Melbourne from aortic stenosis on 29 May 1956 was, however, quite unexpected, and another Caulfield branch Stalwart Sir Frank Selleck became Lord Mayor in his Place. It is perhaps fitting to say that his devotion to the RSL and its cause may be measured by the fact that he died as he was about to have lunch with the then RSL Federal President Sir George Holland municipal swimming pools, and also financed a dressing-room complex at Albert Park. Among many acts of philanthropy, the largest was the gift of £200,000 to the University of Melbourne for a sports centre.
With the awarding of the games to Melbourne, it was expected that Sir Frank would be Lord Mayor when the games started. His sudden death at Melbourne from aortic stenosis on 29 May 1956 was, however, quite unexpected, and another Caulfield branch Stalwart Sir Frank Selleck became Lord Mayor in his Place. It is perhaps fitting to say that his devotion to the RSL and its cause may be measured by the fact that he died as he was about to have lunch with the then RSL Federal President Sir George Holland