Scroll To Top

Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

A Narrative History 1882-1982 - Compiled by R W Richardson

3. Narrative History of the Adelaide Rowing Club - 1882-87

Chapter three page 1 2 3

It would perhaps be in keeping with this history to mention that the Adelaide Rowing Association was the governing body in power at this period. Prior to its inception the South Australian Rowing Association had controlled rowing affairs in the colony, but this body collapsed after eighteen months of activity; however, it eventually regained its former strength, and replaced the Adelaide Rowing Association, which went out of existence.

The Club in May, 1883, found it necessary to enlarge its fleet and purchased a "best clinker outrigged sculling boat" at the cost of £18, and two months later invested in a "Best Clinker Four", which proved itself a very satisfactory craft, and in the following years carried many of our crews to victory. Little is known of the period from May, 1883, to January, 1884, but from all accounts the Club passed through a very trying time, as it was doubtful whether the Club would be able to carry on, and it was even proposed that it be wound up.

Fortunately for us, the new Committee, composed or Mr. F.H. Poole (Captain), W. Forrester (Vice-Captain), F.D. Phillips (Secretary), A.T. Noyes (Treasurer), and Mitchell and Wicksteed, were able to tide the Club over the many difficulties and place it in a more favourable position.

With a fair fleet at its disposal and bright prospects, I Zingari was approached by the Banks Rowing Club, with a view to amalgamate, but the propostion did not eventuate.

On the 1 st June, 1884, Mr. Phillips, the Secretary, resigned, and as no other member would come forward and fill the vacancy, Mr. Poole generously resigned his position as Captain and undertook the secretarial duties, Mr. F.C. Mitchell being elected Captain.

Requiring funds to carry out the necessary repairs to the boat-house, the Club held a "Sourie" at Garner's Theatre on the 1 st August, carriages to be ordered for 10.30 p.m. Mr. A.A. Sims took over the secretarial duties in September in place of Mr. F.H. Poole, who resigned, and was elected to the Committee.

The Association held bumping races on Torrens Lake around the 16th December, 1884, and I Zingari entered two crews, and after a strenuous struggle, the first crew won an exciting race from University, Banks, and Elder Rowing Clubs. The members rowing in the winning crew were H. . Upton (stroke), E.C. Clucas (3), F.H. Poole (2), and A.T. Noyes (bow).

This victory placed I Zingari at the Head of the River, and a very glowing report was placed before the Annual General Meeting, held at the Imperial Hotel, on the 22nd December, 1884, when the old Committee resigned and the vacancies were filled by H. Upton (Captain), W. Forrester (Vice-Captain), A.A. Sims (Secretary), A.T. Noyes (Treasurer), Wicksteed and Poole (Committeemen).

Scratch Fours, 24th January 1885

Following on the victory in the Bumping races, Scratch Fours were held on the 24th January 1885, before a large number of spectators. The chief event of the afternoon was that in which I Zingari and Elder's were engaged. The I Zingari representatives were the same crew which won the Bumping Race, the course being from the Weir to the Exhibition landing.

I Zingari started sharply and kept in front for a time only, Elder's having overtaken them and being a trifle ahead when passing Victoria Bridge; but when about opposite Long's shed the position was reversed, although at this spot Upton caught his oar in the weeds. However, the curve at the City Bridge enabled the crews to get almost level, and it was thought Elder's would win, but an unfortunate dip in the weeds by No. 3 spoilt what little chance there was. Still, I Zingari had to work hard for their victory, and won by about four or five feet only.

A feature of the race was the large number of spectators who followed the crews from the banks urging them to greater efforts, and cheering the crews on their way.

City of Adelaide Regatta, 25th April 1885

On the 2nd February, 1885, on the motion of Mr. H. Upton, the name of the Club was changed to Adelaide Rowing Club, and it was at the City of Adelaide Regatta, held on the 25th April, 1885, that the Club first raced under its new name.

At this Regatta a novelty, in the form of a race between Chinamen in native style, was introduced for the benefit of the public, but although it was a success in itself, the Chinese after their race would not leave the river, with the result that crews in three different events were fouled.

The Celestials were quite unconcerned over the affair, and when the protesting stewards in charge of the regatta implored, urged and demanded that they keep the course clear they merely shook their heads and muttered "me no savee".

The Adelaides were successful in the Maiden Fours, the crew being A.A. Sims (bow), L. Kaufmann (2), G. Steel (3), F.C. Mitchell (stroke) and Mr. F.H. Poole, annexed the "Silver Sculls".

The well known pendulum had already begun swinging for this infant club, as Jay has chronicled. During most of 1883 I.Z.R.C. was in the doldrums, and these continued well into 1884, until the day, 29th April, 1884, when a certain Henry Upton was elected as a member.

Upton had had rowing experience in Melbourne and Geelong, and went straight in to the stroke seat of the senior crew. They went head of the river in the 1884 Bumping Races in December and at the A.G.M. 6 days later, Upton was elected Captain.

But it was Poole who had held the Club together after Wigg had resigned after a year at the helm as Captain, and Poole who had magnanimously volunteered to do the Secretary's job when Phillips had resigned until Sims could take on the job, but such was the adulation for the new star that Poole had to be content as a Committeeman.

But the Club suddenly was winning races. They beat Elder's crew over a mile course in January 24th, 1885, and won 2 races at the City of Adelaide Regatta on April 25th of that year.

Caleb Peacock was elected in the place of Mr. Bundey, J.P., as President of the Club and offered trophies for winners of races to be organised by the Club, and although the Club's account at the bank was in the red to the extent of £26, having bought a new pair and Mitchell's scull, the pendulum had swung well and truly up.

An entry in the minutes about this time throws some light on the day-to-day constrictions of the late 1880's. The sole illumination in the boathouse after dark was by lanterns. The original boat-house did not even have gas laid on.

A Special General Meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel on the 5th May, 1885, whereat the Captain, Mr. Henry Upton, handed in his resignation, which he afterwards withdrew, following the unanimous wish of the members that he continue in the position. The financial position of the Club was considered very fair, and although at the end of the year the bank overdraft would be around £30, the members voiced the opinion that they were in much better circumstances than the other rowing clubs.

Rowing at this period was at a standstill, and, as is usual, it was not until after the winter months that crews again began to reappear on the lake.

The annual meeting on the 10th October, 1885, resulted in Henry Upton again being elected Captain; E.C. Clucas, Vice-Captain; H.B. Taylor, Secretary; A.A. Sims, Assistant Secretary; F.C. Mitchell, Treasurer; and W. Forrester and H.J. Wicksteed; Committeemen.

On the 4th February, 1886, a challenge was received from the Port Adelaide Rowing Club, which was accepted, and Steel (stroke), Wilson (3), Milne (2), Sims (bow) were selected as our representatives. They, however, suffered defeat, and according to newspaper reports, were easily polished off by the sturdy Ports.

Just prior to this event Trial Fours were held. The weather favoured the function, and a large number of ladies and gentlemen visited the shed, where afternoon tea was served.

This October function was the forerunner of the now familiar "Opening Day" when the Club season is declared open each year in gala mood.

Chapter three page 1 2 3

< previous I Zingari: The origins of the Club

> next 1887-1992

top of page

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management