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History of Barwon Rowing Club

Chapter 2 - Here's a Health to the Barwon 1870

Chapter 2 page 1 2 3 4

Mr. Shannon's crew [cedar boat]
Mr. Chater's crew.

It went sadly against the grain of Mr. Chater's crew to go out again, more especially as they had lost their own boat, and had to pull in one to which they were thoroughly unaccustomed, and were further unfortunate in getting the worst side of the river. The rain fell, and filled the boats with water, and at starting the Grammar School team got chilled waiting at the post for their opponents to pull up. This will probably account for the very bad start, Mr. Shannon getting the best of it, and going away at a rattling pace. The losers pulled pluckily, and although they did not reduce the gap at the start they never allowed it to be increased, and Shannon, pulling 30 strokes to the minute, won by a length or two. Bow and No. 2 in the Grammar School boat were entirely new oarsmen, the former never having pulled in a boat in his life.

After the four heats the finals were reluctantly postponed to the following Saturday for the rain had not ceased all day. The next Saturday the weather was kinder for the final between Shannon's and Arthur's crews. The ladies again turned out in force and the fashions were said to rival Flemington race course on Melbourne Cup day. Shannon's crew was victorious and so the winners of the first race held on the Barwon River were C. Shannon [stroke], J.E. Pounds [3], J. Highest [2], C. Hugo [bow] and J. Ogilivie [cox]. Following the final race, trophies of silver mugs were awarded to the winning crew and several young ladies presented to the club a new flag, a blue St. Andrews cross on a white background, to replace the one lost in the floods. The club still has in its possession the fine silver mug won by J. Pounds on that first opening day.

Despite the advantages of the river location and the obvious popularity of the club situated on its banks, there were still efforts to promote rowing on Corio Bay. On the morning of Barwon Rowing Club's opening day, a letter by "Nautilus" appeared in the pages of the Geelong Advertiser calling for the formation of a ladies rowing club on the bay. However the writer seemed more preoccupied with the prospect of viewing the fairer sex indulging in "graceful occupation" than in seriously advocating rowing as a sport for women.

And so the club survived those stormy first six months. The new boatshed had been officially opened and stocked with boats and the members were able to settle down to the serious business of learning to row. By the close of the first twelve months the club boasted 19 life members and 57 ordinary members, its assets were valued at £278 and Mr. Doyle of South Geelong had been appointed as caretaker. Geelong's position as a major provincial centre had been strengthened since the gold rush days and a resurgence in local industry was creating many employment opportunities. The port was the region's clearing house for wool and agricultural produce and Geelong was rapidly leaving behind its "Sleepy Hollow" reputation. The times seemed right for this club.

Barwon Rowing Club's second boatshed

The Barwon Rowing Club's second boatshed

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