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australian rowers profiles and history

Spencer W Pedder DCM

Derwent Rowing Club (TAS) then Albert Park Rowing Club, now Albert Park South Melbourne Rowing Club (VIC)

Spencer Witt Pedder was born in Hobart and was regarded as the best bowman in Tasmania before moving to Melbourne in 1911 where he joined the Albert Park club. 

His first win at Albert Park was at the 1911 Henley-on-Yarra in the senior eight for the Grand Challenge Cup. He went on to win in the senior pair, four, eight and champion four and eight between then and 1914. 

He resided at 155 Nelson Rd, Albert Park.

Spen was 35 and working as a labourer when he enlisted on 22nd December, 1914 in the 6th Battalion. He was present for the first landing at Gallipoli and was promoted to lance corporal on 17th June 1915. 

He was later transferred to France where he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry.

Spen received a gunshot wound in the back on 20th September, 1917 and died four days later in Ypres. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

The following obituary was penned for The Winner, 17th October 1917, page 8.


By the death of Corporal S. W. Pedder, who was killed in action in France on September 21, the Albert Park Rowing Club and Victorian rowing as a whole has lost one of its most valued and popular oarsmen. 

Corporal Pedder enlisted early in the war, and after considerable training in Egypt, proceeded to Gallipoli, where he performed remarkably, good work right until the evacuation. He was subsequently drafted to France. 

Up to the time of his death in that country he rendered fine service, and on one occasion, for an exceptionally gallant stunt, was recommended for the highest military honor — the V.C. However, he did not achieve that distinction, but, nevertheless, had the satisfaction of being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for that particular deed. 

'Old Spen,' as he was familiarly known among all rowing men, learned his rowing with the Derwent (Hobart) Club. He won several of the most important races in Tasmania, and. was recognised by friends and opponents alike as one of its finest oarsmen. 

In short four-oared racing he was in his element, and in that branch of the sport had few, if any, equals. 

In 1911 he came to reside in Melbourne, and joined the Albert Park Club. He then had won wonderful success, and established for himself himself a record, considering the time, that will prove hard to beat. 

His rowing was not, what one may have termed, polished, but, his work was always of the solid variety, and his power and stamina were unquestionable. 

The following list of victories amply illustrates his remarkable success;— Viz; — Senior eight at Henley, in 1911, and in the same season senior pair, Seymour; senior four, V.R.A. ; . champion four, champion eight, senior eight, Ballarat (this was realty, a row-over, as there were no other entries, was necessary, so as to obtain final possession of the Dawson Cup, which had been won twice previously). 

The next season he won a senior eight, at Henley; senior four, Seymour; senior four, V.R.A.; champion four, rowed a dead heat with Nagambie at Nagambie, twice in the same day; senior four double at Upper Yarra and Albert Park, champion eight, senior eight, Barwon. 

In season 1913-14 his wins comprised a senior four at V.R.A.; champion four, senior pair. Nagambie: senior four double, Upper Yarra and Albert Park, senior eight, Ballarat, and champion eight. 

During season, 1914-15 he also won his champion four and champion eight. 

He was also vice-captain of his club, and placed a great deal of his time at the disposal of members in looking after the various boats. 

All rowing men join in extending sincerest sympathy to his parents, who, at present, are residents of Hobart.

Grace Blake and Andrew Guerin
July 2021


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