History of Newcastle Rowing Club
Part 1 - Rowing in Colonial Australia (continued)
The Hannell Family
Hannell, is a name synonymous with rowing in Newcastle. Over more than half a century, as either competitors, promoters administrators or officials they played a pivotal role in ensuring Newcastle was a major rowing centre at a time when rowing was the predominant Australian sport.
James Hannell (1813-1876), Newcastle's first Mayor (1859) and Member of the NSW Parliament (MLA), was instrumental in establishing the Newcastle Regatta as a major annual event serving as its President from 1857 until 1877. Not content to just be President of the committee, he often carried out the duties of either starter or umpire.
John Hannell, James' brother, contested both sailing and rowing races at early regattas in Newcastle and Maitland. He rowed in the winning four and single scull at the Hunter's first regatta at Maitland in 1844 and contested the pair and single scull events at the 1845 Morpeth -Hinton Regatta. In a type of boat called a sliding gunter, he also won the sailing race at the first regatta in Newcastle the same year. John organised boat races on the Hunter River at Hexham (the first a four-event regatta on 24 May 1850) but, as explained above, these promotional efforts were for commercial rather than altruistic reasons.
Clarence Hewson Hannell (1836 -1909), James' son. Could be called, for want of a better cliche, the father of Newcastle rowing. His contribution to the sport at every level for thirty-five years, especially during its formative years, is unlikely to ever be surpassed.
Active in a number of sports, he was Newcastle's amateur sculling champion from the age of seventeen until he was twenty five, he competed in his own yacht in local regattas and represented the district in cricket.
His greatest work was through his organisation of boat racing in Newcastle over many years. He started his long involvement in 1865 as Secretary of the NAR. He succeeded his father as President in 1878, a position he held until the 1900 ('Jubilee') Regatta. He regularly acted as a race official, raised funds and organized the donation of trophies. His services as a knowledgeable but more importantly, fair, handicapper were much sought after by regatta committees throughout the State. At one time or another he was a club captain for Newcastle Rowing Club, President of Mercantile Rowing Club and, later, President of the Port Hunter Rowing Club.
In addition he was heavily involved in numerous other sports. He was, for many years, President, judge and handicapper of the Newcastle Jockey Club, President of Newcastle Bicycle Club, a District cricket selector and President of Northumberland Bicycle Club. His charitable interests included the Sailor's Home and Newcastle Hospital (for which a wing was named after him) and he served on the Public School Board. Apart from being an enthusiastic singer, he was President of the Philharmonic Society and President of the Newcastle Musical Union. Amazingly, he had time for a day job as the port's Shipping Master.
Clarence Hewson Hannell
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