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australian rowers profiles and history

Stuart McGill

Colleagues Rowing Club (NSW)

The following is an extract from an April 2009 publication written by crew member Ian Stewart on the 50th anniversary of their Head of the River win in 1959.

Following primary education at Daceyville Public School, in 1955 Stuart followed his older brother John into SHS. He often matched John in his achievements, starting with entry into rowing in 1956. His first crew was the Junior Eight. Before that Stuart had distinguished himself at athletics, being a member of the CHS Champion Juvenile Athletics team in 1955. Success in athletics continued in 1956. That year he was a member of the rugby Fifth XV.

In 1957 the SHS Junior Athletics Team was CHS champion and Stuart was a member. He also was in the Fourth XV. Rowing for Stuart that year was marred by the tragic accident on the morning of the Riverview Regatta. Stuart was in the three seat of that crew. They came into collision with the Scots Junior Eight, the bow of the Scots boat penetrating the back of the SHS two-man, ‘Chic’ Hull who was taken to hospital. It was feared that he might be paralysed as a result of the injury. Fortunately he recovered. Bruce Thomas, from the 1956 First Four and still at school but not rowing, came into the crew. They quickly settled into the new combination and recorded a third place at Penrith.

Stuart was promoted into the seven seat of the 1958 VIII which, in spite of a crew change a couple of weeks before Penrith, came third in the Head of the River. 1958 also saw Stuart play in the Third XV and participate in the School’s Senior Athletics team.

At the beginning of 1959 Stuart was elected School Vice-captain. He rowed in the seven seat of the successful Head of the River VIII and played in the First XV. At the end of the year he gained a Commonwealth Scholarship, attaining First Class Honours in Chemistry.

After school, Stuart enrolled in Chemical Engineering at Sydney University, gaining his bachelor’s degree in 1964 and PhD in 1969. 

Stuart joined the Port Kembla firm of Australian Fertilisers in 1964, working for them for two years before taking up the PhD studies. In 1969 he joined Esso/ExxonMobil with whom he worked until retirement in 2007. While with this company he was stationed in Australia, USA, Europe and South-east Asia.

Stuart continued rowing after he left school, both at university and general club level. The Sydney University VIIIs in which he rowed were Oxford and Cambridge Cup winners in 1960 and 1961. He was awarded a University Blue for rowing in 1962.

Stuart was one of the founding members of the Colleagues’ Rowing Club and rowed with them from 1960 to 1964. The first eight that Colleagues boated, in 1960, won the Riverview Gold Cup, the Bernie Williams Cup for Junior Eights at the Drummoyne Regatta and the NSW Junior Eights title. In 1961 and again in 1963, Stuart rowed in the Colleagues’ Senior Eight which won the NSW Championship. This led to his inclusion in the NSW Eight for the King’s Cup for those two years. In 1962 he was a member of the crew that won the NSW Senior Four title.

Stuart married Meryl Napier in 1965. They have two children—Andrew and Sarah—and six grandchildren, spread between Sydney and New York. Stuart and Meryl have an apartment at Cremorne Point in Sydney and a ‘pad’ at Sanctuary Cove in Queensland. This not only allows them to follow the sun but gives Stuart ample opportunity to follow his current passion of golf.

Ian Stewart
April 2009

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management