Vale - Dr Ken Tregonning MBE

Vale - Dr Ken Tregonning MBE


Kennedy Gordon Phillip Tregonning passed away on 20 July 2015 aged 92.

Ken joined Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in 1938 and at the time of his death was the Club’s longest serving member.  His contribution to the Club was conspicuous in the form of his book “The Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club 1896-1996”.  This recounts the history of the first 100 years of the Club and includes many anecdotes and descriptions of the activities and characters of the period.  It makes for engaging reading.

Ken wrote several books including North Borneo, written while Professor of History at the University of Singapore, and Home Port Singapore, a history of the Straits Steamship Company.  Later in retirement he wrote Young Hearts Run Free, a history of his Alma Mater, Hale School.

Ken attended Hale from 1936 to 1941, and was captain of the athletics and swimming teams, as well as a member of the school’s life-saving, football and rugby teams.  His nickname “Tanglefoot” may have derived from his being left handed (and footed) when playing football.  

After leaving school Ken joined the Army to serve in the 109th Anti-Tank Regiment and six months later took the opportunity to transfer to the RAAF.  He won his wings and was commissioned, eventually being sent to the UK via the USA.  After the war he graduated from Adelaide University with the Tinline Scholarship for the highest place in Political Science and History.  While there he was captain of the varsity rugby union team.

In 1950 as Gowrie Scholar, he entered New College Oxford where he gained a PHD. That same year he married Judy Manford with whom he fathered five daughters.

Following this he became Professor of History at the University of Singapore.  In 1967 Ken was appointed Headmaster of Hale School, where he stayed until his retirement in 1988.

Ken began sailing in a Cadet Dinghy named Philante, competing against his twin brother Alec in Phryne in 1938. 

Later in Singapore he was largely responsible for the beginning of yacht racing, having purchased a number of 16ft Skiffs from Jack Cassidy.

On his return to Perth, Ken acquired the H28 Thora Helen from Bill Jacobs, renamed her Rajah Laut (King of the Sea) and sailed her for a number of years.  Ken eventually replaced Thora Helen with a pretty little MB24 which he called Tanglefoot.

Ken Tregonning will be remembered in many circles and he has a special place in the history of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club.  A quiet unassuming gentleman, I will remember him for his great sense of humour and his firm but modest demeanour. 

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