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History of Preston Rowing Club in Melbourne Victoria Australia

History of Preston Rowing Club

Chapter 3 - Rowing through, and surviving, the Depression

1928 opened with Mr. J. W. Bartrop as president and an intensive drive was launched to organise the club on a sound basis for the future.

The club to this time had had only moderate success in the regattas and with the better facilities offered now the shed was finished, membership increased. As in the past, all newcomers were complete novice, and coaches and experienced members spent a long time teaching these learners. The next two seasons were spent in reducing the club's indebtedness to the council and accumulating equipment. Crews were entered for all regattas but wins were very few.

The benefit of these two years of crew building was realised at the Upper Yarra and A.N.A. regattas, 1930. when we succeeded in winning the maiden eight double. The crew - F. Peters (bow). G. Kranz (2), A. Arnold (3), A. James (4), G. Lewis (5), G. Hutchins (6), F. Gibson (7), J. Irwin (str.), H. Gidley (cox), E. Edington (coach) won convincingly and gave the club a great boost in the rowing world.

With the publicity from this great win we were looking forward to a period of prosperity for the coming season 1931. Our hopes were dashed, for the world depression had now set in, resulting in unemployment amongst members. With conditions in such an uncertain state it was decided to abandon the Easter carnival for the time being. As finances were depleted dances were held at the clubhouse to help the club through this frying period. These proved a big success until we were forced to discontinue them as the dance hall did not conform with the Board of Health regulations. Adding insult to injury, we were fined a "tenner'' into the bargain. The dances had been a good recruiting ground for members - the membership being at 40 active members.

Our first junior event was a pair at Barwon regatta, 1931, G. Lewis (str.), A. James (bow) winning that race in fine style. The club suffered a severe blow in 1932 when Frank Mathieson, one of our most esteemed members, was accidently killed while returning home after assisting at a club function. A tablet to perpetuate his memory is now erected in the club rooms. At the Annual Easter Regatta Hawthorn Club won the M. C. Davies Cup for open pairs. Having won this event three times they became permanent holders.

We were astounded to discover that some of the members were musically inclined and to enable the public to appreciate their talent it was decided to produce the "Desert Song.'' Jim Turney, as the Red Shadow was badly let down by the "Arabs" who were overcome with stage fright, much to the delight of the audience. Owing to business reasons our treasurer, Frank Hannaford, after 14 years or sterling service, regretfully retired from this position, but his interest has never waned.



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