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australian rowers profiles and history

H Gyles Turner

Banks Rowing Club (VIC)

Henry Gyles Turner was the longest serving President of the Association, some 38 years. It was a period in which the Association had to deal with the amateur issue with NSW and subsequently the other colonies. The obituary listed below clearly shows his strong personal qualities which would have been needed in such debates.

He was also a generous man. He also instrumental in enabling the 1912 Olympic crew make the historic trip to Europe. The cost of the trip was estimated at £2,000 with about £600 expected to come from Victoria, principally from the wealthy Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association, the organizers of the Melbourne Henley Regatta. In the end, £500 came from the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association plus substantial donations from the families of the Victorian members, the Victorian Rowing Association President H Gyles Turner and the Athenaeum Club, totally in all £713.

1871–1920 – President Banks Rowing Club
1881-1882 – President Victorian Rowing Association
1884-1921 – President Victorian Rowing Association
He was probably one of the first race winners of his club with inter-bank trophy wins in both 1867 and 1868 with the Bank of Australasia. The following is from the obituary in the 1921 Annual Report of the Victorian Rowing Association:

On 30 November 1920, your esteemed President, Mr Henry Gyles Turner, passed away, after a short illness, twelve days before his Eighty-ninth birthday. The Late Mr Turner was first elected President on 16th September 1881, resigning on 23rd January 1882 in the occasion of his visit to England. On the 17th December 1883, he was elected a Vice-President, and on 29th September 1885, he was again elected as President, in succession to Mr Justice Williams, and had held the position to the time of his lamented death. The Late Mr Turner’s charming and courteous manner had endeared him to all oarsmen during his long connection with the Association. He took a wonderful interest in the sport, and was always present at regattas and championships, despite his advanced age. Taking a keen and active interest in all matters relating to the welfare of the public, the Late Mr Turner was held in the highest esteem by the citizens of Melbourne, and his death, so deeply mourned by all, has deprived your Association of an ideal President.

Henry Gyles Turner was also president of the Board of Trustees of the State Library of Victoria between 1905-1920.

Andrew Guerin 2010

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