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History of the Victorian APS Head of the River rowing regatta

1885 Head of the River

The eighteenth Head of the River was conducted 15th and 16th May 1885 on the Upper Yarra course.

Wesley were again absent due to injury to their three man.

Geelong Grammar was supreme by 1 1/2 lengths over Melbourne Grammar. They led by far more earlier in the race but the Melbourne crew fought back very well. This was to be the first of six straight wins for Geelong Grammar.

A view of the City of Melbourne at that time looking north with the old Prince's Bridge and boat shed in the middle.

Photo from the Lindblade Collection, Mercantile Rowing Club

Index to Results:


Starter: Mr G G Henderson

Umpire: Mr A Nicholls

Judge: Mr J Irvine

Head of the River

Time: NTT
Margin: 1 1/2 lengths

1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: A J Bailey, 2: J E Robertson, 3: J Rutherford, Str: S F Mann, Cox: F N Clarke, Cch: James L Cuthbertson
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: H S H Baird, 2: J R Mouritz, 3: W C Macknight, Str: E Champion, Cox: E G H Graham, Cch: W Martin Burn

Melbourne Grammar Crew - Standing: J.R. Mounitz (2), H.S.H. Baird (bow). Sitting: W.C. Macknight (3), E.G.H. Graham (cox), E. Champion (stroke)

Photo courtesy of Melbourne Grammar Archives - Cat No 6567

The Australasian reported the final quite simply:

The Final heat of the Public Schools boat race was rowed on the Upper Yarra this afternoon, the crews being representatives of the Melbourne and Geelong Grammar Schools. The Geelong crew, which was composed of much heavier metal than the metropolitans, scored an easy win.

Other crew competing:
Scotch College - Bow: William L Aitken, 2: Ewen Macpherson, 3: Arthur M Begg, Str: Andrew R Robertson, Cox: Henry N Young, Cch: Alfred W Pace

Wesley College did not compete this year. One report advises that this was due to injury to a crew member.

Heat result:
1st MGS, 2nd SC, Margin: 3 lengths. Geelong Grammar secured a bye.

The Australasian reported on the heat as follows:

The crews got away to a very even start. After covering about 50 yards the Grammar School began to show in front, and at the pontoon sheds were half a length ahead. From this to the end they continued to gain, passing Brander’s with nearly four lengths distance between the boats. The Scotch College kept gamely to the work, but rowed decidedly weak, and until reaching the Baths corner did not gain a foot; here they pluckily spurted, and made up about a length, but the effort being ably answered by their opponents, they again fell back, and were defeated by over 3 lengths.

1885 Geelong Grammar Rudder

Photographed at Geelong Grammar Boatshed

Second Crew

(This race was not conducted as part of the Head of the River regatta but on 18 October 1885.)

Time: NTT
Margin: 1/4 length

1st Melbourne Grammar School - Bow: Pender, 2: Manifold, 3: Price, Str: Pounds, Cox: Bray
2nd Geelong Grammar - Bow: S Bailey, 2: A White, 3: F James, Str: J Dudgeon, Cox: F Clark

The Australasian reported the race as follows:

The Junior rowing representatives of the Melbourne and Geelong Grammar school fought their annual four-oared battle out on the Upper Yarra yesterday afternoon. The Race was well contested for a little more than half way, when the Melbourne crew gradually forged ahead and won by 3 clear lengths.


  • The Pincott Club Handbook 2006
  • 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
  • MGS first crew names - MGS boathouse
  • Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar Archives
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOAT RACE. (1885, May 16). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 22. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS' BOAT RACE. (1885, May 18). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929, p. 2. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS SECOND CREWS' PACE. (1885, October 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 12. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from

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