Surf City, Sydney

an Historic Houses Trust blog

Archive for the ‘sydney boardmakers’ Category

Ross Bailey and his Gordon Woods hotdogger


Photo Ted Harvey, 1963, courtesy Ross Bailey

Had lunch with my good mate and veteran Newcastle ‘Surf Rat’ Ross Bailey the other day. Not surprisingly we talked at length about the early years of malibu surfing north of Sydney and he gave me a handful of photos, including this one of him ‘on the nose’ aboard his brand new striped Gordon Woods 9 foot sixer.

He also gave me an old photo of him in 1963 outside the Gordon Woods factory shop at 208 Harbord Road, Brookvale  – that’s Ross Bailey on the right of the door, about to check out the new range.

Gordon Woods Surfboard Centre Brookvale 1963, photo courtesy Ross Bailey

Here’s the Gordon Woods showroom in 1968, with a few of Gordon’s lastest stringerless ‘involvement’ models on show. The image (below) is from the back cover of John Witzig’s Surf International Vol 1 No 1 in 1968 held in a private collection.

The old Gordon Woods shop in 2008…

The shop today, courtesy google maps…



Written by garycrockett

May 31st, 2013 at 1:38 am

First custom Thruster

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A few weeks back, John Potter sent me photos of his prized Energy Thruster from 1981. According to John, this board was the very first Thruster to be ordered over the counter, making it the shop’s first Thruster sale and a world first purchase for John.

Here’s how John explains it… It happens that I own the first custom “Three Fin Thruster” surfboard made by Simon Anderson, for someone other than himself, which was still very much in its conceptual development phase. This particular board, when ordered by myself from Energy Surfboards in Waterloo Street, Narrabeen, invoked the naming of this model type. Hence, the regular “Three Fin Thruster” logo was in fact hand painted (ie sprayed) on this board, as the printed decal had not been created. I’ve attached some photos (the whites in the eyes of the characters ‘R’ are the original drops of pigmented resin – hence, no aging).

The story stands up according to Damion Fuller of boardcollector, who confirms that Simon Anderson shaped several Thrusters for himself and Energy Team riders (and fellow surfers) before orders were taken over the counter. (via email)

The same spray-stenciled logo, complete with chunky lettering, appeared on the early crop of Thrusters, including this board – Thruster number one – beautifully photographed below by Andrew Kidman for Simon Anderson and Tim Baker’s book Thrust 2011.

Thruster number one – photo courtesy and copyright Andrew Kidman

Here’s another early Thruster with the fat-lettered logo, posted on the great boardcollector blog recently.


Written by garycrockett

February 21st, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Bennett V-bottom 1968

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WE WANT YOUR HELP… pretty sure someone out there will be able to help Norm with info on the likely shaper of his ripper Bennett v-bottom. There’s a number 5880 printed at the base of the fin. Perhaps there’s a sales or stock register on hand at Bennetts from this period…? Either email the author or post a comment on the blog.

Hi Gary – Spoke last week at the museum; you mentioned you may be able to help with the age and the shaper of my surf board. As mentioned the build number at the base of the fin is 5880. I brought it second hand in 1968. Regards Norm

Written by garycrockett

February 15th, 2012 at 2:25 am


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Shane advert in Manly Pacific vs Windansea boardriding contest booklet, September 1968, courtesy John Smythe

Absolute pleasure to meet the unstoppable Shane Stedman at his cliff top ‘shack’ this morning, with photog/writer Bruce Usher, for a few yarns about surfing’s mid 60s coming of age, the idea of ‘motion economics’ for filling big department store orders with so-called ‘standards’, his upfront approach to promoting his business and himself, the various up and coming stars (like Anderson and Fitzgerald) that outgrew the Shane stables and rode on the wave of cooldom that in many ways he inspired, his pre-teen aspirations of greatness bagging and selling cow shit and pippies at Crescent Head to buy his first guitar and his band Shane and the Trojans (aka Shame and the Tragics), his SUP workouts and sparklingly positive take on life. A truly ‘bright’ spirit indeed. Looking forward to Bruce Usher’s Shane portrait piece when its published.

Written by garycrockett

September 2nd, 2011 at 2:29 pm



McGrigor team pose for photo shoot early 1970s, photo courtesy Bryan Hughes

I asked Bryan to supply some info on McGrigors…

McGrigor Surfboards started around 1970 by Brian McGrigor and was more than likely backed by Ken Bevan (Geronimo) founder of the “Dee Why Surf Shop”. McGrigor soon left to continue his travel’s and Ken took over ownership in the very early day’s.

Ken’s ability to create outlets for the boards with his “Dee Why” and later “Surf ‘n Gear” shop’s saw a factory that was always in demand of workers and the list of shapers alone is long and impressive. There is many a tradesman in the industry that owes at least some part of their learning to a stint at McGrigors.

Harbord Road in Brookvale has always been a surf factory road and McGrigors was no exception. Originally at 238 and ending at 186 the boards came out the door under Geronimo’s ownership till he sold to master laminator John Fleck who continued under the same banner until the factory closed in the late ‘70’s.


I was an old employee of Ken ‘Geronimo’ Beaven and knew him very well. I worked in many of his shops over the three year period of ’65, ’66 and ’67. During that time I worked in our Rockdale, Bondi [two locations; Bondi Road and then Curlewis Street – where the IGA is now] I also worked in the Dee Why Long Reef store.
In the colour McGrigor photo – that’s Geronimo, hands on hips, in the white fur vest and Russian-style hat.
And Darryl Sykes [an old long-lost friend] was a Cronulla Point-based knee-boarder and originally a Kiwi – he ran the huge Cronulla Dee Why Surf Shop on Gerrale Street in the late sixties for Geronimo. Hence the obvious McGrigors connection there. He returned the New Zealnd in the early seventies and I am not sure where or what he does these days.  [THANKS STEVE]


McGrigor advert in Tracks Magazine, August 1972: L to R…Daryl Sykes, John Fleck, Barry King, Ian Grosvenor and Michael McCormack with Flecky’s dog ‘George’ in front… info Bryan Hughes

Written by garycrockett

August 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 am