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

1881 Head of the River

Heats and a final were again utilised for the fourteenth Head of the River on the Upper Yarra one mile course on 13th and 14th May 1881. Geelong Grammar again requested that the race be held on the Barwon but Scotch and Wesley did not agree. It was not until 1886 that it was agreed that the race should be conducted on the Barwon every four years.

Geelong Grammar finished second behind Wesley College in the heat by a length in a boil over - everyone expected a Geelong victory. Melbourne Grammar finished three lengths behind Scotch in their heat.

The final was close until Swan Street when Scotch drew away to win comfortably.

Index to Results:



Starter: Mr Edward Carlile

Umpire: Mr A Nicolls

Judge: Mr J W Colville


Head of the River

Time: NTT
Margin: 3 lengths

1st Scotch College - Bow: Gideon U Rutherford, 2: Samuel J McCulloch, 3: Charles A Finlay, Str: Herman F Lawrence, Cox: George E Lorimer, Cch: John Wallace
2nd Wesley College - Bow: S L Angwin, 2: J H Trahair, 3: J H Permewan, Str: E A Heath, Cox: J F Hester, Cch: G H Brown

The Argus reported on the final as follows:

The Scotch College made a rather flurried start, but managed to gain a lead of half a length in the first reach, After passing the pontoon sheds the Wesley pulled up, and led by about the same distance until nearing Brander’s Ferry. They then appeared to have shot their bow, as the Scotch gradually gained upon them, and had a full length to the good before reaching the baths. After rounding this corner the Scotch were leading by two clear lengths, and increased the distance by another length before passing the winning post.

Other crews competing:
Geelong Grammar
- Bow: W L Robertson, 2: I P Manifold, 3: W Moffat, Str: R J M Broughton, Cox: J Bailey, Cch: J L Cuthbertson
Melbourne Grammar School - Bow: C R Matthews, 2: G F B Smith, 3: F W Osborne, Str: S A Bucknall, Cox: H G Wragge, Cch: Mr Miller

Heat results:
E1: 1st WC, 2nd GGS, Time: 9:34, Margin 1 length
E2: 1st SC, 2nd MGS, Time: 9:02, Margin 3 lengths

The Australasian reported on the heats.

First Heat
Wesley v Geelong Grammar

The Geelong crew met with an accident to their boat before the start, having been run into by a pleasure boat. Geelong led by a quarter of a length at the first bend, from which point Wesley worked gradually ahead till at Brander’s they held a lead of about one-third of a length. When the Bath’s corner was reached Wesley were two boat length’s to the good; but in rounding that point Geelong gained rapidly, though badly steered, and were only half a length behind as the straight was reached. Geelong thee, by a splendid spurt, came up almost level with Wesley, and a very exciting finish took place. Wesley, however, lasted longest, and won with great gameness by a length. Time: 9min 34sec.

Second Heat
Scotch v MGS

The Scotch College were the first to catch the water, and soon had a slight lead, which they maintained all round the first bend, except for a moment, when the Grammar School were about level. Scotch increased their lead slowly up the reach to Brander’s where they were a third of a length in front. From that point they held their own easily round the Baths bend, and went in easy winners by several lengths. Time: 9 min 2 sec.

Second Four

(This race was not part of the Head of the River regatta and coducted on 14th October on the Yarra.)

Time: NTT
Margin: 5 lengths

1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: R Thomson, 2: H Austin, 3: F Fairbairn, Str: A Brush, Cox: J Bailey
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: G Teague, 2: E Chase, 3: H Burgess, Str: C Macknight, Cox: H Wragge

The Argus reported on the final as follows:

The final heat of the Public Schools’ second crews’ race was rowed off on the Upper Yarra yesterday afternoon, when the Geelong Grammar School, having won a splendid contest with Wesley on the previous day, had to try conclusions with MGS.

From the start the Geelong commenced to draw away, increasing their lead at every stroke, and before reaching the pontoon sheds were three lengths ahead. The metropolitans rowed hard from start to finish, but were beaten by about five lengths.

Other crew competing:
Wesley College

1st GGS, 2nd WC. Margin 6 feet. MGS secured a bye.


  • 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
  • The Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • Scotch Collegian 1931
  • MGS first crew names - MGS boathouse
  • Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar Archives
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOAT RACE. (1881, May 14). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 12. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS' BOAT RACE. (1881, May 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from
  • ROWING. (1881, October 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 12. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

< previous 1880

> next 1882

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management