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Adelaide Rowing Club - The First Hundred Years

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

8. Narrative History of the Adelaide Rowing Club - 1907-1912

Chapter eight page 1 2

Season 1910-11

For the first time in its history, the Annual General Meeting was held at the boathouse, instead of the South Australian Hotel, or the Exchange Hotel as in the past. It seems to have been suitable, as most of the subsequent A.G.M's were held "At Home".

This was the season that rowing became official on the River Murray. Three clubs had sprung to life - Murray Bridge, Mannum and Waikerie. All were looking to the city clubs to help them in their formative years with donations or sale of used boats and oars, information about rules and constitution, and this was the first season a regatta run by Mannum Rowing Club was approved by the S.A.R.A. as counting for Premiership points. It was to be held in March, 1911.

Henley On Torrens

But a new approach to the Summer Regatta on the Torrens was tried for the first time. A "Peoples Regatta" for all of Adelaide to enjoy, with the same sort of attractions provided by the organizers of Henley-on-Thames, and lately Henley-on-Yarra.

An Adelaide Rowing Club man, Doswell, probably M. Doswell (but possibly E.C.H. Doswell) by now a Committee man on the S.A.R.A. was the prime mover, and convinced the Adelaide City Council that here was an opportunity to sponsor an idea at no great cost to themselves and provide a Carnival for their ratepayers, and make use of the facilities that already existed.

There would be income from licences to sell food, drinks, run sideshows and stalls, and by fencing in Elder Gardens adjoining the railway yards and King William Street, they could charge admission.

Various clubs and institutions would be invited to enter a competition with a prize for the best decorated boat, and clubs and boathouses on the river banks would be encouraged to help the occasion by flying their flag and regatta bunting.

Adelaide Rowing Club, of course, were in the forefront of the initial "Henley" and actually won an event on the rowing programme in their new uniform of "short sleeved jersey of hoops of red, yellow and black, white knickerbockers, black cap with monogram".

If they had not won that novice 8 race, the A.R.C. score for the season would have emulated their Captain in siring a son by their laying an egg; such was the state of rowing at that proud but frustrated Club.

Exodus Of Rowing Talent

The reason for the failure of the rowing crews was not hard to find. Grayson was changing nappies at home; H.H. Dutton resigned, H.E. Winterbottom transferred to the non-active list; S.S. Ringwood resigned; R.F. Richardson left Adelaide, and incidentally was made an Honorary Life Member; F. Angus resigned, and F.W. Porter got married.

But the Club did not despair. They entered a crew in Champion 8's and came second and had two men in the Interstate 8 in E.M. Luxmoore and C.A. Hamilton. They sent a crew to Mannum, which was no mean feat in those days, a description of the arrangements necessary for which is chronicled shortly.

1911 SA Crew

1911 South Australian Crew

None of the crew entered for the Autumn Regatta won a race either, this being the year that Mercantile Rowing Club crews really hit their straps and won the State Premiership.


As with clubs the world over, the members sought solace in other pursuits.

An important step was taken to keep up with the times; the Committee could see an electric cable just outside the boathouse supplying the Corporation's recently installed lighting fixtures in Elder Park, and decided to have electric light laid on to the boathouse.

A concert was put on, and proved a complete success.

Christmas Morning was most enjoyable and the Smoke Social held after Closing Day, when the prizes won at the Swimming and Club regattas were handed out, was another diversion.

The Club Ball, organized on a date to suit H.E. the Governor was held at the North Adelaide Institute with all the trimmings, but H.E. did not turn up. But a good time was had by all.

Season 1911-12

The drought of wins at regattas, which set in around 1909 continued, and was to continue until well after the First World War. The giants at Murray Bridge were just maturing now, and before long would dominate the South Australian rowing scene, even the Australian scene later on. The only areas Adelaides won this season were the novice 8's at Henley and a Maiden 4 at Port Pirie. No crew was entered in Champion 8's or 4's and there is no record of any Adelaide men in the Interstate 8.

Alternative Attractions

Once again, as compensation for the lack of rowing success, the other functions were played up.

New events were introduced to the Swimming Races. The first one was called the Monte Christo Sack Feat, in which one F.W. Fisher was "securely fastened in a weighted sack and thrown into the sea, where he will endeavour to release himself”.

The next was a farce entitled "Fun in a Barber's Shop", the actors being Lord, Andrews, Hayward and others, and a footnote ..." Spectators are requested not to laugh, "just to make sure the spectators WOULD.

Also, the Club provided afternoon tea.

The numbers of competitors in the diving off the high board had risen to 5, including Daddy Grayson, as game as ever, but the winner, as expected, was Ken Milne.

Rowing At Mannum

An experience which was found to be a complete diversion from the parochial programme of club contests was the trip to Mannum in late January over the long week-end.

This involved loading the boat for delivery to Murray Bridge on the roof of a carriage of the train which left Adelaide about 6.30 a.m. on the Saturday morning, then having breakfast at Mt. Barker junction, and unloading at Murray Bridge, about 60 miles by rail from Adelaide in the forenoon, where the paddle steamer 'Menindie' was waiting to take oarsmen on to Mannum for 2/6, towing the boats astern during the trip to Mannum, which took all afternoon.

The President of the Mannum Rowing Club was Captain Arnold, the Master of the paddle steamer, and a great organiser.

The town showgrounds were the scene of the camping facilities available to visiting oarsmen, who paid 17/6 for Saturday night, Sunday night and all meals from Saturday's tea to Monday's lunch.

A sign on the cattle pavilion read "No nuisance to be committed except in the conveniences provided for the purpose"; the cattle, of course being excused by reason of their lack of higher education, and in any case, showtime had come and gone, but the memory lingered on.

A concert was held in the Mannum Institute on the Saturday night, where the programme invariably included an overture, glee singing, solo items, male and mixed quartets and medleys, all thumped out on an upright German piano, older than its years, and with some brassy over­tones but which in no way diminished the applause.

The physical endurance of visiting crews usually suffered on the Satur­day evening and at the Sunday picnic, so that on the Monday public holiday when the regatta was held, the local oarsmen held a distinct advantage, having slept longer hours in more congenial beds, with muscles fuelled by nourishing food and less harmful liquids.

After the races, they faced the long drag home down the river to catch the late train from Murray Bridge, which arrive in Adelaide about 3 hours later at night, when the boat had to be man-handled off the sooty roof of the carriage, and stowed on its rack in the boathouse, and the crew were lucky to catch a late tram home, which, incidentally had not begun to be electrified until only 4 years before.

All good experience, and good reminiscing material.

Some Fine Young Men

Among the many promising young men who joined the Club this season were men whose lives were to be cut short a few years hence in the Great War. Others survived and became prominent in the Club. Such a one was Charlie Butterworth, who quickly had success in the boat, and was voted Vice Captain the following season; J.M. Norton also survived. A.C. Sandland, D.J. Miller, R.L. Rhodes, T.A.Whyte and R.H. Guthrie were among those who perished.

Congratulations were sent to C.A. Hayward, on his wedding, and to J.H. Clouston, Grayson's arch rival from Port Adelaide Club, who had been elected Mayor of that municipality.

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