Club History

The Australian chapter of the Seven Seas Club was formed in 1968, on a cold stormy June night, at a meeting in the Feathers Hotel in Burnside, a suburb of Adelaide. There were about 15 men present, who had responded to a small advertisement which  appeared in the previous weekend’s  newspaper, simply asking for persons interested in “Fostering the Comradeship of the Sea” to attend.

The advertisement had been placed by Lt. Commander Malcolm Mayhew, CMG, RNVR. (Rtd.), who was a Past President of the Seven Seas Club of London, and had moved to Adelaide to enjoy his retirement.  Malcolm, who was a very likeable English gentleman, in the truest sense, was very keen to establish a club in S.A., composed of those with a true love of the sea, which would be linked to the London group, and have the same social and charitable aims.

Naturally Malcolm was elected to be our first President, assisted by a Committee, made up  from volunteers at the meeting. It was decided that the club would hold a dinner meeting on the third Wednesday of each month, at the ‘Feathers’, in a small area which was closed off from the main dining room. Thus this Club was born.

The President’s Badge of Office is a silver boatswain’s whistle (or pipe), attached to a silver chain worn about the neck  at all dinner meetings.

Contact was made with the London Club advising them of our establishment and asking for permission to use their name, “The Seven Seas Club”, we also wanted to adopt their tie, which is a seahorse on a cresting wave. To our surprise, we received an answer, which implied that we were a little presumptuous in using the name, and refusing to allow us to adopt their tie. (Presumptuous Colonials we were!). As a result of that, we decided that the words “of Australia”, should be added to our name to avoid any rancour, and our own tie design was adopted featuring the crown and anchor.

It is pleasing to note that over the years we have since established a very friendly relationship with the Club in London, and many of our Officers and members have received a very warm welcome from their English counterparts when visiting the U.K. and have been shown the best of hospitality whilst there.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales was approached to be our first Patron, (presumptuous Colonials again!), but unfortunately we received the reply that he was not accepting any such appointments as yet and to try again in a few years. (In 1968 he would have been only 20 yrs. old). Subsequently, an approach was made to Sir Alec Rose, a green grocer who became a single-handed, around the world yachtsman, which he graciously accepted, until ill health forced him to retire from the activity.  (Sir Alec had a son Michael, who became  a Port Phillip Sea Pilot in Melbourne).

Other previous Patrons were Sir Eric Neal AC CVO, local businessman and yachtie who was the Governor of South Australia from 1996-2001 and Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR who was Governor of South Australia between 2007 and 2014.

Our present Patron is, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le , AO,  the incumbent Governor of South Australia. He has a connection with the sea in that he arrived in Australia after undertaking the perilous journey by small boat from Vietnam as a refugee.

Malcolm Mayhew remained a member of the Club for about five years after it was founded, then he was compelled, for family reasons, to leave Australia and settle in Majorca.  He was always pleased to receive news of the Club’s progress. He passed away in Majorca, in the mid 80’s.