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australian rowers profiles and history

Sir Stephen Morell

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Sir Stephen Morell was born in Carlton in 1869 and was educated at Scotch College. He became a champion rower, was president of the Mercantile Rowing Club for 28 years, and was a founder of the Metropolitan Football Association. He owned considerable property in Melbourne, was a director of breweries and insurance companies and had pastoral interests in Queensland.

In 1901 he became representative for Gipps Ward in the Melbourne City Council and served for 38 years. Elected Lord Mayor in 1926 he entertained the Duke and Duchess of York during their 1927 visit and was knighted in that year.

Above – Sir Stephen as a member of 1897 Champion Eight standing far left

His rowing highlights would have included the following matters:

1896 – Victorian Champion Four bow – First

1896-7 – Victorian Champion Eight bow – First

1891-97 – Coach Scotch College first crew except 1893

1905-33 – President Mercantile Rowing Club

1936-44 – President Victorian Rowing Association

A man held in great affection, and whose advice was sought by many, Sir Stephen died on 6th July 1944 aged 74. The next annual report of the Victorian Rowing Association after his death recorded:

One of Melbourne’s most successful business men, a distinguished member of the Melbourne City Council for many years and a former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sir Stephen Morell never lost his keen interest in the sport of rowing. In his younger days he was an active oarsman, winning champion four-oared and eight oared events, in addition to sculling races. When he retired from racing he took a very keen interest in the administrative side of the sport, and despite his many business and civic activities, he was almost a daily visitor at the river bank, where he took the keenest personal interest in all oarsmen, novice and senior alike.

 In May 1936 the Council resolved “that as a mark of appreciation of the long service to the City of Melbourne of Alderman Sir Stephen Morell, and of his active service in promoting and fostering rowing on the River Yarra, the bridge over the River at Anderson Street, be named and known as Morell Bridge”. This bridge was built by Sir John Monash.

 He not only brought great fame to the sport, but was instrumental behind the scenes assisting and developing the rowing precinct in Melbourne.

Andrew Guerin Sept 2015

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