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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1955 QLD GPS Head of the River

The 33rd GPS Head of the River was conducted on the Toowong Reach of the Brisbane River. 

For the first time, the O'Connor Cup was competed for in Eights by the various schools and the coach of each school's first VIII had this to say prior to the race:

Clavill Bere (T.S.S)

“We hope to win again. The crew is a good one. They should rate up to 38 and down to 33. Brian Whitcome 

is an excellent stroke.” 

Norm Hirst (B.G.S.) 

“I expect them to be in the first three, perhaps win. They’re right at their top and should do very well. It could Be very close. All the other crews are rowing well.” 

Bob Lyndon (C.E.G.S)

“I’m very please with their improvement, They should be well in it at the finish. Over 2000 Metres conditions will count for a lot. I think all crews are well conditioned but over the distance the heavier crews such as Churchie, Grammar and Southport could be favoured.”   

Jon Cameron (B.B.C.)

“I think B.B.C. will win. In the last week or so they have come on exceptionally well. They are fast and nippy and so well-conditioned it won’t matter if the conditions are tough.” 

Brother Hodda (G.T. Rowing Master) 

“The crew has shown a big improvement, of course we only started last year but we hope to do well. Terrace is coached by professor Whitehouse and R.A.A.F. officer John Foley, a former King’s Cup oarsmen from Western Australia."

A record 20 000 people crowd lined Coronation Drive to watch the 1955 GPS Head of the River. 

Brisbane Grammar School, with only three weeks of rowing training, claimed their first O' Connor Cup in 21 years in a racing shell borrowed a fortnight before the race from the University of Brisbane against schools that had eights available at the beginning of the season. Their coach, Norm Hirst, later coxed the Grammar Old Boys' Eight to victory in the Old Boys' Race. 

Shorty after 1 o'clock five Eights were on the 2000 Metre starting posts. It was a bright and sunny day, with the temperature about 87 degrees. There was no wind and the tide was almost dead slack. Over 15 000 people lined the banks along Coronation Drive to watch the race.  


Organising Committee

Great Public Schools Association 

Known Officials

Judge: Lance Trout 

Umpire: Al Lewis

All Schools' Championship First Eight

The O'Connor Cup

Distance: 2000 Metres 

Winning Time: 6:56.00


0.75 Length (1-2)

1.5 Lengths (2-3)

0.75 Length (3-4)

1 Canvas (4-5)

1st Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: Ross. H. Taylor, 2: John C. Walker, 3: Robert J. Stephenson, 4: Peter M. Darnell, 5: Richard F. Grimes, 6: David D. Hooper, 7: Bruce D. Mears, Str: R. I. Max Cribb, Cox: Richard Cribb, Coach: Norm Hirst

2nd The Southport School - Bow: R. Brown, 2: R. Hassell, 3: D. Smith, 4: J. Shannon, 5: A. Sockerill, 6: I. Cameron, 7: R. Wakeley, Str: B. Whitcombe, Cox: G. Pie, Coach: C. Bere

3rd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: R. R. Weare, 2: L. Drake, 3: A. P. Grant, 4: P. J. Apel, 5: M. Tweedy, 6: D. W. Hall, 7: E. W. Bennett, Str: C. J. Quayle, Cox: A. D. Miller, Coach: C. R. Lyndon 

4th Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: N. Clough, 2: R. Bodman, 3: R. Warren, 4: K. Edwards, 5: K. McLaughlin, 6: L. Look, 7: P. Clark, Str: J. Kerrison, Cox: A. Anderson, Coach: J. Cameron  

5th Gregory Terrace - Bow: D. Steel, 2: A. Higgins, 3: P. Wooderson, 4: E. Howard, 5: C. Russell, 6: S. Taylor, 7: F. Hoffman, Str: J. Russell, Cox: B. O‘Shea, Coach: J. Foley 

1955 Victorious Brisbane Grammar School First VIII (Maiden victors of the O'Connor Cup in Eights)

Page 26, The Sunday Mail, Sunday April 17th 1955

Page 24, Truth (Brisbane), Sunday April 17th 1955

“Southport’s School rowing coach Clavill Bere, himself a former crack oarsman, instructs his Head of the River eight and first four in final preparation for the GPS Head of the River on Saturday. The TSS crew is shown in an action shot. They protected their faces from sunburn with an assorted collection of headgear. The crew is: Cox: G. Pie, Str: B. Whitcombe, 7: R. Wakeley, 6: I. Cameron, 5: B. Cockerill, 4: T. Shannon, 3: D. Smith, 2: R. Hassell, Bow: R. Brown.

Page 1, Brisbane Telegraph, April 14th 1955 Edition 

1955 Church of England Grammar School First VIII

1955 Brisbane Boys' College First VIII

Gregory Terrace First VIII

Peter J. Apel, the Four seat in the 1955 Anglican Church Grammar First VIII, represented the Queensland VIII in the 1960 King's Cup. 

The Race Described

The O'Connor Cup

Distance: 2000 Metres 

Winning Time: 6:56.00


¾ of a length (1-2)

1 ½ Lengths (2-3)

¾ of a length (3-4)

1 Canvas (4-5)

"Brisbane Grammar School, the only G.P.S. rowing school without their own racing eight, brilliantly won their first head of the River for 21 years over the 2000 Metre Milton - Toowong course on the Brisbane River today. 

As expected, Southport and Grammar quickly took the lead - and then kept it. Grammar had a canvas lead early, but after half a mile the two crews were locked together. In fact, umpire Al Lewis repeatedly had to call to the Southport cox, G. W. Pie, to keep to the south bank. For half a mile Grammar and Southport rowed side by side, with only two to three feet separating the flashing oars. A 100 yards from the finishing line, Grammar leading by a canvas, began to pull away. Over the closing stages they appeared to increase their lead about 18 inches with every stroke. Yet when they finished, they seemed to have something in reserve.

Grammar began the race at 36 strokes to the minute, cut it down to a steady 31 for most of the course and finished at 32. Coach Norm Hirst, Past Grammars’ rowing official and sometime University Cox, was elated with the crews win. He said, “they rowed a sound, perfect race. The crew and I felt confident of winning and their showing justified our confidence.”

Hirst, who took over the coaching of B.G.S. last year, said he would like to thank the Commercial rowing club for the loan of a practise eight and the Varsity club for their racing eight. Grammar last won the Head of the River in 1934. Today’s win is only their fourth success since the official Head of the River race began in 1918. 

Grammar stroke Max Cribb said after the race that he felt “terrific.” Asked how he thought his crew was going during the race he said, “we didn’t know, we just hoped.” Southport coach Clavill Bere had no excuses. “ I think we rated too high. Grammar’s rating was always lower.” He said.”

Page 15, Brisbane Telegraph, Saturday 16th April Edition

"The race was rowed in perfect win and tide conditions on the 2000-metre Olympic course in Toowong Reach of the Brisbane River. After a fair start Grammar and Southport showed out early, and the race developed into a battle between these two crews. They rowed in adjoining lanes and matched stroke for stroke over most of the course. Grammar’s superiority became obvious over the last 100 yards when they destroyed Southport’s last chance by producing a finishing burst which gave them a solid three-quarters of a length advantage 


Grammar’s success can be attributed largely to coach Norm Hirst. Hirst rowed his crews over 300 miles training in fours before an eight became available. When University lent the school their second shell for the race the crew was in perfect condition and concentrated on learning to handle the boat. The time of 6 min 56 seconds is an indication of how well the crew developed. Stroke Max Cribb and cox Dick Cribb are Brothers, sons of Brisbane dentist, Dr. Cribb.

Dr. Cribb, who rowed for Grammar himself in his school days, has launched a fund to raise money to ensure that the Grammar Crew next year will have their own racing eight. In addition to the £500 for the shell, alterations to the school shed have to be made to house it."

Page 24, Truth, (Brisbane), Sunday 17th April 1955

All Schools' First Four

Distance: 3/4 Mile

Winning Time: 4:13.00


1.5 Lengths (1-2)

0.75 Length (2-3)

1.25 Lengths (3-4)

0.5 Length (4-5) 

1st Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: J. S. Jell, 2: G. Evans, 3: P. Jorss, Str: R. Gibbons, Cox: M. Jones, Coach: A. Kidd

2nd Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: J. Wilson, 2: J. Ebbott, 3: A. Hughes, Str: E. Egerton, Cox: n/a

3rd The Southport School - Bow: J. Dowie, 2: J. Grant, 3: G. Tyson, Str: W. Campbell, Cox: D. Rylance

4th Gregory Terrace - Bow: J. Townley, 2: A. Draney, 3: R. Chapman, Str: P. Hickey, Cox: B. King

5th Brisbane Grammar School 

Gregory Terrace First IV 

All Schools' Second Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:30.00


½ a length (1-2)

1 ½ Lengths (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: D. Blunck, 2: B. Rogers, 3: C. Dwyer, Str: J. Adam, Cox: I. McDougall

2nd The Southport School - Bow: R. Vary, 2: J. Wettenhall, 3: R. Cole-Adams, Str: H. Lydiard, Cox: J. Crombie

3rd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: I. Gault, 2: R. Walker, 3: E. Reeve, Str: P. Varley, Cox: I. Tutt, Coach: A. Kidd 

4th Gregory Terrace - Bow: J. Andrews, 2: K. Lusk, 3: B. Ryan, Str: R. Dunworth, Cox: M. Peart

5th Brisbane Grammar School 

Gregory Terrace Second IV

All Schools' Fourth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 2:58.00


1 ¼ Lengths (1-2)

1 ¼ Lengths (2-3) 

1 ¼ lengths (3-4)

1 length (4-5)

1st Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: R. McLennon, 2: R. Cook, 3: M. Abbott, Str: R. Lyndon, Cox: J. King-Scott

2nd Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: R. Davis, 2: P. Simmonds, 3: N. Garry, Str: R. Hingston, Cox: T. Harrison 

3rd Gregory Terrace - Bow: C. Anderson. 2: D. Gardiner, 3: B. Hassett, Str: B. Smith, Cox: P. Coles 

4th Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: R. McLellan, 2: Cook, 3: Talbot, Str: B. Lyndon, Cox: P. Stevens 

5th Brisbane Grammar School 

6th Brisbane Grammar School 

7th Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: Johnson, 2: R. Grant, 3: Arden, Str: T. Cohen, Cox: Mapp

All Schools' Fifth Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: n/a


1.25 Lengths (1-2)

1 Length (2-3)

0.5 Length (3-4) 

1st Brisbane Boys' College - Bow: R. Robertson, 2: E. Hienneman, 3: R. Philip, Str: D. Robertson, Cox: A. Bertrams

2nd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: G. Geddes, 2: G. P. Kidd, 3: T. J. Ellis, Str: J. D. Kidd, Cox: P. Young 

3rd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: J. Lydon, 2: B. Campbell, 3: R. Adams, Str: A. A. McCray, Cox: J. Hunter 

4th Brisbane Grammar School 

5th Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: K. Bishop, 2: K. Siddle, 3: M. Alp, Str: W. A. Hansen, Cox: Stevens

6th Brisbane Boys’ College 

All Schools' Third Four

Distance: 0.5 Mile

Winning Time: 2:53.00


1.5 Lengths (1-2)

1 Canvas (2-3) 

1st Brisbane Boys' College - Bow: B. Clarke, 2: R. Wilson, 3: I. Mayes, Str: J. Drewe, Cox: R. Glasgow 

2nd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: K. Bishop, 2: H. Liddle, 3 M. Alps, Str: L. Hansen, Cox: P. Stevens

3rd The Southport School - Bow: J. MacRonald, 2: H. Henning, 3: R. Walker, Str: G. Rylance, Cox: O. Finlay

4th Brisbane Grammar School 

5th Gregory Terrace - Bow: C. Anderson, 2: B. Smith, 3: C. Vidgen, Str: A. Russell, Cox: P. Cole 

Gregory Terrace Thirds and Fourth Crews


Page 24, Truth (Brisbane), Sunday April 17th 1955 edition

Page 34, Truth (Brisbane), Sunday April 17th 1955 Edition

Page 1, Brisbane Telegraph, Thursday April 14th 1955 edition

Page 15, Brisbane Telegraph, Saturday April 16th 1955 Edition

Page 26, The Sunday Mail, Sunday April 17th 1955 Edition

Page 62, St. Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace 1955 Newsletter

Page 13, Brisbane Boys' College 2016 Regatta Programme

Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 


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