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History of AAGPS Head of the River Rowing Regatta

1895 NSW AAGPS Head of the River

Raced Saturday, May 11 1895 on the Parramatta River. 

The third edition of the Head of the River regatta was contested from One Man Wharf to Putney Point on the Parramatta River, with the same two crews contesting:

Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and Sydney Grammar School. St Ignatius did not again start in this race.

The regatta was characterised by great enthusiasm, due to a large crowd and ideal racing conditions. Sydney Grammar shot out to an early lead; however, Church of England took the lead past Birkenhead Point. At the finish, Church of England won by a commanding 8 lengths.

The Sydney Morning Herald provides a detailed report of the 1895 race:

“Sydney Grammar School got the best of the start, and going away with a great dash obtained the lead in the first 300 yards. The Church of England Grammar School took matters quieter, and were not at all bustled by the advantage their opponents gained. At Gladesville Point the Sydney Grammar had a lead of half a length. Now, however, the leaders had shot their bolt, and were slowly dropping back to the second boat Bad steering on three occasions caused delay in the Church of England Grammar School boat getting on terms with the Sydney boat but at last their catch told, and 200 yards beyond the Cabarita Wharf the Church of England School four, amidst loud cheers from its partisans on the Birkenhead, shot to the front. The Sydney boys tried to depute the supremacy, but the spurt at the start had taken all the dash out of them. Still they held doggedly on, and would not let the Church School have an easy victory. Passing Tennyson, the Church School had the advantage by two lengths. Both crews appeared fatigued, but the leaders were under better control, and, increasing their gain to the next point, won at Putney Point by eight lengths. Time, 8 minutes 44 seconds.”

1895 was the first year the Major Rennie trophy was awarded to the winning Schools’ four, in which Evening News explains the trophy in detail:

“A handsome challenge trophy, presented by Major Z. C. Rennie, of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, for competition among four-oared crews from the Great Public Schools, is now on view at the establishment of Messrs. Paling and Company, George Street. The trophy, which was won on May 11 by the Sydney Church of England Grammar School, and which will, therefore, be held by them during 1895, was manufactured in Europe to the order of Messrs. Feldheim, Gotthelf and Company, Barrack-street. It is of sterling silver and about 18 inches high. On a wooden-pedestal stands a youth in rowing costume, holding in his right hand an oar. He is supposed to be one of a crew which has just gained a victory. The trophy bears the following inscription: ‘The Major Rennie Challenge Trophy; Great Public Schools' Champion Four Oar Race; New South Wales.'”

The Shore cox apparently was very excited about his race and his course was very erratic. He went onto race in the event as an oarsman.

Head of the River

1 mile, 550 yards

Time: 8 min 44 sec

Margin: 8 lengths

1st Sydney Church of England Grammar School  Bow: J.N.F. Armstrong, 2: E.M. Sullivan, 3: G.A. Moore, Str: W.N. Stephens, Cox: L.D.B. Dibbs

2nd Sydney Grammar School  Bow: E.H.M. Stephen, 2: F.H. Spier, 3: H.D. Hay, Str: H. Barling, Cox: R.T. Forsyth

Officials and Organising Committee

Starters and Judges: Dr. Millard & Mr. M. A. H. Fitzhardinge

Umpire: Mr. Q. L. Deloitte

Timekeeper: Mr. E. M. Dietrich


AQUATICS. (1895, 13 May), The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW: 1842 – 1954), p. 3, Retrieved 1 January 2021, from

ROWING. (1895, 13 June), Evening News (Sydney, NSW 1862 – 1931), p. 2, Retrieved 1 January 2021, from


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