Scroll To Top
History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1874 Head of the River

The seventh Head of the River race was conducted on 15th June 1874 on the Upper Yarra rowing downstream.

Wesley College came of age with it's first win in this event. It was an emphatic win of 6 lengths.

It appears that the Scotch crew were not given much coaching. Messrs Johnstone and Colles assisted only occasionally and the crew suffered as a result.

On the contrary, Wesley benefitted from not only the coaching of Prof Irving, but also in the final fortnight by Mr A Nicholls.

Melbourne Grammar decided not race this year, no doubt after the bitterness regarding the controversy regarding one of their crew of the previous year.

Geelong Grammar started rowing but did not compete. Their 1874 first crew is listed below.

The Yarra River sometime in 1860-70 looking north from the old Prince's Bridge.

The house on the right was owned by boatbuilder James Edwards and boatbuilder Jerram's house is on the left.


Starter: Not known

Umpire: Not known

Judge: Mr M Byrne

Head of the River

Time: 8 mins 0 secs
Margin: 6 lengths

1st Wesley College - Bow: E Rowe, 2: F Osborne, 3: H Rowe, Str: E G Ochiltree, Cox: F B C Ford, Cchs: Prof Martin Howy Irving & A Nicholls
2nd Scotch College - Bow: E B Pender, 2: Alexander Oliver, 3: Samuel C Lamrock, Str: Charles W Lord, Cox: Frederick W Barry, Cch: Thomas Colles

The Age reported on the race.

The crews were started from the buoys moored in the river shortly after half-past four by Mr. Colles, Wesley on the north side, Scotch on the south. Both crews caught the water together, and for the first hundred yards they kept together, the Wesley rowing well together, the others very wild, the boat rolling about in consequence. Before reaching the Baths corner the Wesley had established a lead, which they gradually increased to two lengths at the corner to about three at Brander’s ferry, where the race was apparently over. The Wesley kept their form to the last, winning the race with ease in eight minutes, and coming in for a perfect ovation at the post. Their victory is in a great measure due to the efficient manner in which they have been coached by Mr. A. Nichols and others.

As mentioned above, Geelong Grammar commenced rowing but did not compete at this event. Their stroke was Charles Fairbairn, who donated the Fairbairn Challenge Cup, which is the perpetual trophy for the boys Head of the River.

Their first crew was:
Geelong Grammar - Bow: C Hensley, 2: D R Moffatt, 3: R H Cole, Str: Charles Fairbairn, Cox: F W A Godfrey, Cch: unknown.


  • The Victorian Oarsman by John Lang 1919 - A H Massina & Company
  • Appendix to A Deepening Roar Scotch College 1851-2001 by James Mitchell, Allen & Unwin 2001
  • Photo - the Lindblade Collection, Mercantile Rowing Club
  • Scotch Collegian 1934
  • SPORTING NOTES. (1874, June 16). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from

< previous 1873

> next 1875

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management