Percy Douglas - Inaugral Life Member
The first life membership of the Canberra Amateur Swimming Club was bestowed on Mr Percy Douglas in March 1934 in recognition of his services to the sport of swimming. Mr Douglas took an active interest in swimming from Canberra’s early days. Before the pool was constructed at Manuka, he was a leading figure in the Fire Brigade Swimming Club, which held several carnivals in the Molonglo River.
With the construction of the first swimming pool in Canberra nearing completion, it was decided in 1930 that the time had arrived for a swimming Club representative of Canberra to be formed. On 1 December 1930, a public meeting was convened at Acton Hall, and a motion moved by Mr Douglas that the Canberra Amateur Swimming Club be formed was carried unanimously.
Mr Douglas served on the first committee of the club as Honourary Secretary and Treasurer. He also assisted with the preparation of the first Constitution of the club, which was adopted at a General Meeting held on 22 December 1930.
Contact with the Canberra Fire Brigade continued to be maintained for many years and a large proportion of the clubs meetings were held at the Fire Station. The club retains a momento of the Fire Brigade Club in its 12 feet by 6feet flag which was handed to Canberra ASC by its then Vice President, Mr A S Mauger. The flag is today kept at the Museum of Canberra, along with the Fire Brigade swimming trophy.
Percy Douglas was born on 10 February 1885 in Melbourne, Victoria. He enlisted for World War I service with the 36th Heavy Artillery Group as a Gunner on 16 October 1916 and was the Territory’s chief fire officer at that time. He served in France and Belgium from May 1917 and returned to Australia in May 1919 before being discharged on 4 August 1919.
He was one of the first presidents of the Canberra Returned Soldier’s Club (now the Canberra Club), founded the Canberra branch of St. John’s Ambulance Association, was a life member of the ACT Cricket Association as well as the Canberra Swimming Club and at various times president of the National Football League, Kingston Tennis Club, the Canberra Rugby League, the Ainslie Tennis Club and the Ainslie Cricket Club and assisted in the foundation of Canberra Legacy.
Mr Douglas retired as Chief of the Canberra fire brigade in 1952, a position that he had held since 1914. A dinner and social event were held at the Canberra Fire Brigade Social Club, where tributes to the public services rendered by Mr and Mr Douglas were paid by many. The fire brigade that had been started by Mr Douglas included a horse-drawn steam pump, and had developed the brigade to the only substantial fire brigade that also included an ambulance service. Mr Douglas was responsible for training fire brigade officers in first aid and for many years conducted first aid classes within the Canberra community.
Percy Douglas died on 25 April 1955 at home whilst listening to the Dawn Service on the radio. He is buried in the ex-services portion of Woden Cemetery and is commemorated by the 'Percy Douglas Memorial Playing Fields' in Nicholls and Percy Douglas Lane in Kingston.