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australian rowers profiles and history

Dr Mark C Lidwill


Lidwill's rowing career was short but his medical career outstanding. 

He raced with his school, Melbourne Grammar School in Melbourne, finishing his rowing in the two seat of it's 1895 first crew which finished third.

1895 Melbourne Grammar Crew - Back row (from left): R.G. Todd and M.C. Lidwill. Seated: E.O. Anderson, Mr A.J. Evans and H.E. Brooks. Out front: K.S. Cross (cox)

Photo courtesy of Melbourne Grammar Archives - Cat No: 4523

However it was career after his school rowing which is fascinating. The following brief outline of his life has been provided by his great grandson, Justin Mark Lidwill Littlemore.

Dr Mark Cowley Lidwill (1878-1969) was somewhat of an overachiever whose extraordinary intelligence and determination and many talents served to change society and change the world. The personal achievement by an individual of two verified “world’s first” in two completely unrelated fields puts Lidwill in very rare company.

Globally recognised as the “inventor of the cardiac pacemaker” in 1926, Lidwill’s invention has been further developed and has now saved and continues to save innumerable lives on a global scale. Lidwill was an eminent Physician, a pioneering Anaesthetist and Cardiologist. He was a brilliant inventor and many of his machines, equipment and methodologies were unique and were successful including the “Lidwill Anaesthetic Machine” which he designed and patented in 1921. The Lidwill Machine went into commercial production and was used in hospitals throughout Australia for more than three decades.

Lidwill was a keen angler and he designed and made his own fishing equipment. He designed and built his timber motor cruiser “Vialeen” and from that vessel, in the waters off Port Stephens in 1913 he caught and landed what is now globally recognised as the “world’s first” Black Marlin landed using a rod and reel. The fish now remains on permanent display at the Australian Museum in Sydney. This feat and his legacy continues to be celebrated globally by the world game fishing community and recreational fishers alike.

Dr Mark Lidwill married Constance Emily Jones who was the daughter of Sir Philip Sydney Jones an eminent Physician, Philanthropist, Vice Chancellor of Sydney University and a Founder of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Sir Philip Sydney Jones (1836-1918) was the son of David Jones whose retail business grew into an empire.

Constance and Mark Lidwill had two daughters, Kathleen and Sylvia who both married well. Kathleen, the younger daughter, married a wealthy pastoralist who ran a large cattle station in the central west of NSW and Sylvia, a glamorous model, married David Surrey Littlemore AO a prominent architect who headed the consortium which completed the design and construction of the Sydney Opera House following Jørn Utzon’s resignation. The then Minister for Public Works Sir Davis Hughes publicly stated “if it wasn’t for David Littlemore the Opera House would not have been built”.

Andrew Guerin with considerable assistance of Justin Littlemore.
May 2023

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