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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1918 QLD GPS Head of the River

The first  Head of the River run under the auspices of the GPS, (then known as the Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association), was conducted in Brisbane on Saturday 1st June 1918 on the Bridge Reach of the Brisbane River.

Four schools competed, and their positions in the race were as follows: No.1, Brisbane Grammar School (Light and Dark Blue), No. 2: Clayfield College (Black and Green), No. 3: Central Technical College, No. 4 Southport School.

Over a three-quarter mile course running from the University Club's Boathouse to Brisbane Grammar's Boathouse, the race would be postponed to the afternoon, allowing for a record crowd to lined the banks and seize every vantage point.

Barrackers from the various schools followed the race in launchers and the greatest enthusiasm and excitement prevailed among the boat laden spectators.

The conditions were ideal and the crews and river presented a very pretty sight with the respective school colours being displayed on the many crowed motor boats which followed the race. 

The officials for the day were

Starter: T.G. Mossop

Umpire: A. J. Westaway

Timekeeper: C. W. Briggs

Judge: J. F. Donovan

Chairman: Q. R. A. E. Colclough

Treasurer: F. G. Sherwood

Secretary: E. C. Hempsted

Rowing with a swinging easy stroke, The Southport School were victorious and claimed the school's first Lawless Cup which was presented to the crew's stroke, Mr. C. R. Dixon,  by Mr E. Colcough, the Chairman of the Queensland Rowing Association. Mr. Colcough expressed admiration for the winners, especially as they had beaten a crew which he had personally coached. He moreover congratulated all of the participating crews for their gallant effort.

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association was formed in 1918 to control sports between the associated schools. Therefore this is the first official rowing event.


Organising Committees:

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association

Queensland Rowing Association 

All Schools Race - Fours

J. P. Lawless Cup

Distance: 0.75 Mile 

Winning Time: 5:40.00


4 lengths (1-2)

0.75 Lengths (2-3)

2 Lengths (3-4)

1st The Southport School - Bow: T. E. D. Marks, 2: Y. O. Yates, 3: T. L. Sparkes, Str: C. R. Dixon, Cox: I. F. Champion 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: G. A. Cash, 2: F. S. Marshall, 3: W. C. Williams, Str: A. F. Shirras, Cox: C. W. Harrison 

3rd Clayfield College - Bow: H. Ferguson, 2: J. V. Ogilvie, 3: E. L. Hargreaves, Str: S. R. Forrest, Cox: K. Robertson 

4th Central Technical College - Bow: H. Reed, 2: A. Kelly, 3: W. Illingworth, Str: W. Lewis, Cox: C. Gasking 

Clayfield College's Crew in the All Schools Race 

1918 Clayfield College Crew.

1918 Brisbane Grammar School Crew.

The Race Described

The starter got the crews away to a very even start and after a quarter of a mile had elapsed, it was evident that Brisbane Grammar and The Southport School would battle out the finish with the latter rowing the best of any crew. After 300 yards, Clayfield were executing poor blade-work with their oars splashing badly and Southport had slowed their rating down noticeably.

A great race however ensued to the Bridge, the halfway mark of the course, where Clayfield College gained up ground on Technical College in the battle for third place with little between the two boats. The great condition of the Southport crew was telling its tale though and from the bridge they gained a length on their rivals from Grammar.

This order was maintained up to the Commercial Rowing Club shed where, with 300 yards to go, Southport lifted their rating and sprinted ahead of the field to win by 4 lengths, with the trailing crews left to battle out the remaining inches of the race. Brisbane Grammar finished second, though stopping when the gun was fired, were very nearly caught napping by Clayfield for second place. Managing to get their boat going however, they crossed the line three quarters of a length in front of Clayfield, who came in third with a two length advantage over Central Technical College. 

Lady Goold-Adams

Lady Goold-Adams accompanied her husband, the Governor of Queensland, to laying the foundation stone of School House in 1917, and then to the formal opening of the School House on 10 June 1918, what became Church of England Grammar. On the 1918 visit, after the opening of School House and afternoon tea, Lady Goold-Adams opened the Churchie boatshed on Norman Creek and Archbishop Donaldson opened the Main Oval. On this occasion Lady Goold-Adams presented the School with a Silver Cup for a rowing competition within the school.

This cup has had a varied history in the subsequent 87 years. In 1920 it was decided that it should be the prize for the winner of an annual dayboys versus boarders boat race. In 1939 it was presented (according to the Prize List for ‘Trial Fours’) on Speech Night to Nansen House for winning the inter-House rowing competition. It was also remarked in school’s publication, The Viking that the trophy had previously been awarded to the winner of the annual Old Boys versus School race.

With the revival of the Churchie Regatta in 1952 the Goold-Adams Cup soon after became the annual trophy for the Trial Fours event at the School regatta and remained so until the GPS Schools abandoned events in the traditional classes of “Novice, Trial, Maiden, Challenge” in favour of more clearly defined age group-based divisions.

In 1995 it reverted to the original use, when Rowing Master, Peter Shakespeare revived the day boys versus boarders annual contest for this cup. Although it seems not have been contested during the first few years of the new century, it was again held over a short course of 250 Metres, at the Maroochydore rowing camp of January 2005 when it was won by the day boys’ crew.

Despite its varied history, this cup in the oldest sporting (or other) trophy in the school and thus holds a very high place in the history of Churchie.

Page 54, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School


Page 3, Daily Standard, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove

Page 4, Brisbane Courier, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove

Page 3, Daily Standard, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove

Page 12, The Clayfield Collegian, September 1918 edition via Trove

Page 39, Brisbane Grammar School Magazine, November 1918 edition

Page 54, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School

Queensland Rowing 1880-1995 by Jack Pritchard, published by Rowing Queensland

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