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australian rowers profiles and history

Colin B P Bell

Breakfast Creek Rowing Club (QLD)

1888 - The Boat Race, Cambridge University four seat - First

1889 - The Boat Race, Cambridge University four seat - First

1890 - NSW State Championships Men's Four - First

1890 - Queensland State Championship Men's Four three seat - First

1890 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship six seat – Second

1892 – Intercolonial Men’s Eight Championship six seat – Third

Jack Pritchard in his book "Rowing in Queensland 1880-1995" commented on the rowing ability and then leadership of Colin Bell.

During 1889 members of the prominent Bell family returned from finishing their education at Cambridge University and having been coached to the English standards caused somewhat of a revolution when they joined the Breakfast Creek Rowing Club. They rowed in and coached a four from that club which won the Four Oared Championship of New South Wales on May 17, 1890 from Mercantile R.C. (now Mosman) and Balmain R.C .. 

They rowed in a new best and best boat, the body seats being at the sides, similar to the body seats of an eight. The crew in the early stages was coached by Stephen Fairbairn and later J.T. Bell and R.H. Roe gave advice to the boat. The crew was seated H.T.S. Bell (B), W.E. Molle (2), C.B.P. Bell (3), W.A.D. Bell (S) and F. Slawson (Cox). This win gave a terrific impetus to the sport of rowing in Queensland. The bow man, H.T.S. Bell, was no relation to the Bell brothers, C.B.P. Bell and W.A.D. Bell. 

And later ...

After the N.S.W. success Colin Bell got together the following crew - F.W. De Little (B), W.E. Molle (2), H.T. Bell (3), F.M. Armstrong (4), A.H.G. Drury (5), C.B.P. Bell (6), E. Colclough (7), and W.A.D. Bell (S) - to compete in the Intercolonial Eight-oar Race over three and one quarter miles on the Parramatta River on November 29, 1890. The crew was ably coached by J.T. Bell (M.L.A. for Dalby). The race was against Victoria and New South Wales. Queensland went to the lead from Victoria and New South Wales. New South Wales, after shipping a sea or two, stopped rowing halfway. Victoria decreased Queensland's lead but a spurt by Queensland enabled them to increase the lead to two lengths. However, a quarter of a mile from the finish, a wash from a passing steamer in the already rough conditions buried two's rigger and snapped the blade. Despite the two man jumping overboard, the halt to progress allowed Victoria to pass Queensland and take the race. All the spectators admitted that but for the accident Queensland would have won. 

Andrew Guerin
December 2020

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