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History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1876 Head of the River

With the increased number of crews, heats and finals were conducted for the ninth Head of the River with the finalists listed below. The heats were conducted on 11th May and the finals on 13th May 1876, all on the Upper Yarra.

Two matters of controversy surrounded this race this year. Firstly Scotch claimed that it did not need to row the heats as title holder. This was naturally ignored by the other schools. Secondly, one of the terms of the Sumner Cup was that the crews had to be under 19 as at 1st January in the year of the race. One of the Scotch crew did not match that date. This was resolved.

Geelong Grammar competed well despite it being reported that their Captain of Boats, C N Armitage withdrew due to a bereavement in his family and G M Smith broke down.

This was a momentous year for the sport of rowing with Edward Trickett winning the World Professional Sculling Championship in England. He was to be the first Australian World Champion in any sport.


Starter: Mr J H Hood

Umpire: Mr Tom Colles

Judge: Mr Cornish

Head of the River

Time: "something under 9 mins".
Margin: 3 lengths

1st Scotch College - Bow: Robert A Baillie, 2: Robert J P Simson, 3: Samuel C Lamrock, Str: T G Evans, Cox: Frederick J Edwards, Cch: John Wallace
2nd Geelong Grammar - Bow: G M Smith, 2: D S Walker, 3: D F Cole, Str: R H Cole, Cox: F Godfrey, Cch: H Upton

The Geelong Advertiser reported on the final in the following terms:

After the start, which it must be confessed the school rather lost, the College led round the first bend, but were caught and passed in the straight run to Brander’s ferry. About four hundred yards on this side Bath’s corner, the college drew ahead, and having the advantage of the sharp turn, won by about four lengths. A gallant spurt was put on by the Grammarians, but their efforts was unavailing. The other crew, though their form was not so good as it might have been, had better training, and were in strength superior to our crew. Time, something under 9 min.

Other crews competing:
Wesley College - Bow: H V Champion, 2: G N Moody, 3: A T Robb, Str: W C Kent. Cox: H S Tuckfield, Cch: H M Andrew
Melbourne Grammar - Bow: W L Splatt, 2: T D Watson, 3: F S Stephen, Str: F G Smith, Cox: C G Shuter, Cch: J C Burton

E1: 1st GGS, 2nd WC. Time: 9:25.0. Margin 2 lengths. The Wesley crew had recently lost one of their crew to drowning and the crew was not in good form.
E2: 1st SC, 2nd MGS, Time: 9.00.0. Margin: 3 lengths. Only the first part of this race was tight.

The Argus reported on the heats in the following terms:

First Heat
Wesley v Geelong Grammar

An excellent start was effected, and the race was well contested, the light college crew pulling in capital form and well together. The school crew was the heavier one, and when the baths corner was reached their weight told, and in spite of a gallant spurt from the college crew up the last reached, the school won by about two lengths. Time: 9 min 25 sec.

Second Heat
MGS v Scotch

After some delay, owing to some impatience on the part of the school to get away with a lead, an excellent start was made. At first the college was unsteady, but quickly settled down to a rapid stroke of 40 or 42, the school rowing well together and gaining some advantage up to Brander’s. The greater weight and the superior training of the Scotchmen were too much for the dark blue, and the former won pretty much as they liked, the actual distance between the boats at the finish being three lengths. Time: 9 min.


  • 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
  • World Professional Sculling Championships - this website
  • Scotch Collegian 1936
  • GGS Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOAT RACE. (1876, May 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from
  • THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ROWING MATCH. (1876, May 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from
  • MGS first crew names from MGS boatshed

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