c. Karen O’Connor
John Henry Rudd (1862 – 1939), born in Ashby which was once a suburb in Geelong. He was known as Harry, shipping clerk at Shannon, Murray & Co, would walk or ride his horse to Spring Creek on Friday nights to spend the weekend fishing on the bank of Spring Creek where he used to pitch his tent.
Harry was also a keen rower. After joining the Barwon Rowing Club in 1880, Harry participated in their competitions during the 1890s winning races in 1885 and 1886.
In September 1885 the Local Land Board met to consider an application from Harry to have half an acre in the township, as well as other adjoining land put up for sale by public auction. The Crown lands bailiff reported that the piece applied for was the only piece on which picnickers could camp, and the land ‘should not be alienated’. The board decided to refuse the application, and to recommend that the land on the west side of the road be reserved for public purposes. Twelve months later some of the Crown Land not identified for public purposes was put up for public auction, Harry purchasing one acre at the Spring Creek side of the township on what we call today Rudd Avenue. Harry had pushed for the sale because he was keen to have a permanent shelter from the elements when he came fishing. He had built his iron shack three weeks after the sale. Baines (1938) quotes Harry Rudd on that building process ‘Nobby Smith (a Pommie) arrived by Jarvis the wood carrier about 2 a.m. on the top of a bare hill in a howling gale of wind and rain. We got Jarvis to help us up-end the iron fireplace and chimney, leaving poor Smith and me sitting on two kitchen chairs, feeling very disconsolate; till I suggested that we go to the boarding house, which was kept by Mrs. Follett near the present Wine Café. Mr. Follett opened the door and told us to come in, but we must be quiet, as a new baby had just arrived. This was Friday night. Next morning, we were on the job at 5 a.m. and were able to have the tank fixed and the door locked on Monday morning at 7 a.m. when Mr. Follett took us back to Geelong’. Harry named the house ‘Brenhilda’. And now that the new house was complete, Harry put up his tent for sale!
The new house gave Harry the opportunity to spend more time by the beach so he purchased a license for a bathing box site from the Lands Department. While James Follett may have had the first box on the beach, Harry was the first person to gain a license to legally allow him to do so.
In January 1889, Harry called for a meeting of ratepayers to look after their interests and of the many visitors to Spring Creek. Harry was elected honorary secretary and treasurer of the newly formed “Spring Creek Improvement Association” with the objective to assist and further develop road improvements to access Spring Creek being carried out by the Barrabool Shire Council. Harry had already collected £5/5s to be given to the association for improvements to the Spring Creek road. Held the position for almost twelve months before resigning because he was moving to a managerial position in Melbourne.
Harry and later the family still regularly came to Torquay for holidays, euchre tournaments, golf and of course fishing. Harry let out his house when it was not going to be used.
Harry married Laura Fischer in 1891. Laura was the daughter of prominent Geelong jeweller, Edward Fischer (of Fischer Street, Torquay). Together they had three children. Harry died at his Heidelberg home ‘Perroomba’ in 1939. Just before his death, Taylor Street was renamed Rudd Avenue in his honour.