The West Beach Surf Life Saving Club was established in 1956. In the year preceding this the Mayor of Henley and Grange, Don Newlands, who had been concerned about the death of two youngsters at Grange, spoke to both Henley and Glenelg Clubs and sought their help in patrolling the beach in front of the summer holiday camp established at West Beach by Broken Hill Propriety Company. Each year BHP employees and their families from Broken Hill enjoyed a summer at the seaside but many of the visitors were unable to swim or were limited in their ability and the local Council anticipated a tragedy like that which had occurred at Grange.
The two clubs agreed to assist and Max Gamlin from Henley SLSC and Ian Tothill from Glenelg SLSC organised six patrolling members from their respective clubs to alternate each weekend.
After the initial experiment Newlands called a meeting of interested parties and suggested establishing a new surf lifesaving club. Max Gamlin offered to form the West Beach SLSC.
He enticed C.V. "Jimmy" Fisher of the Henley Club to be the new President, Barry Presgrave to be secretary and a local developer Jack Weinert, who lived in one of the only two homes on the beachfront, to be a member of the committee. He did a door-knock of surrounding areas and ultimately had a group of 25 young men join the club. Mel Cameron, a radio announcer with Station 5DN, and yet another Henley member who joined Max Gamlin in the venture, "advertised" for new members on the radio and "100 youngsters turned up".
Max Gamlin joined Olympic swim coach Harry Gallagher's squad in order to learn how to coach this large group and Gallagher encouraged some of his swimmers to join the West Beach Club. Gallagher also suggested (wisely in retrospect) that the club form a water polo club to improve the swimming of members. It all worked wonderfully well. The swimmers improved rapidly; some of the Gallagher squad became instructors; West Beach began winning surf races at the Surf Lifesaving carnivals and this in turn attracted others to the club. Max Gamlin's wife, Phillipa, a Physical Education teacher, organised beach volleyball for the girls who accompanied the young men and the club developed "a nice social atmosphere that many found appealing".