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

1896 Head of the River

The twenty-ninth Head of the River was the second win for Wesley College in this event.

The race was held on the Upper Yarra requiring a two crew final on 15th & 16th May.

Index to Results:


Starter: Mr W A Jonis

Umpire:Sir Robert Baillie Bart

Judge:Rev H Sergeant

Unknown Gig Race on the Upper Yarra

It is not known whether this was an APS Head of the River Race but is likely to be so
From the Lindblade Collection, Mercantile Rowing Club

Head of the River

Time: NTT
Margin: 3/4 length

1st Wesley College - Bow: B S Dinsmore, 2: C E Serpell, 3: H L Keys, Str: H J W Hughes, Cox: H L Clements, Cch: unknown
2nd Geelong Grammar - Bow: F H Hitchings, 2: T N Collins, 3: J V Wallace, Str: N L Calvert, Cox: E R White, Cch: James L Cuthbertson

The Age reported on the final as follows:

The 29th annual fours between crews from the public schools was concluded Saturday afternoon on the Upper Yarra course.

Getting away well together, Geelong commenced to forge ahead and soon were a length to the good. Passing Brander’s Ferry they had increased this advantage to a length and a half. Gradually however, Wesley, rowing a plucky race, began to make up their lost ground, and on reaching the last bend, were nearly on level terms. Swinging well round the deep bend, the Wesley boat got nearly a length ahead, and, outstaying the Grammar, won an exciting race by a length.

Other crews competing:
Scotch College
- Bow: Francis A Shields, 2: Francis G Clarke, 3: John T Graham, Str: John T Anderson, Cox: Keith A Forbes, Cch: Stephen J Morell
Melbourne Grammar - Bow: E C Miller, 2: R G Todd, 3: D S Green, Str: D Gibson, Cox: C H Anderson, Cch: A J Evans

Melbourne Grammar Crew

R.G. Todd (2), D.S. Green (3), D Gibson (stroke), A.J. Evans (coach), E.C. Miller (bow), C.H. Anderson (cox)
Photo courtesy of Melbourne Grammar Archives - Cat No 6570

E1: 1st GGS, 2nd SC, Margin: 4 lengths
E2: 1st WC, 2nd MGS, Margin 4 lengths

The Argus reported on the heats as follows:

The annual four-oared race between the students of the Public Schools was commenced on the Upper Yarra yesterday”

First Heat
Scotch College v Geelong Grammar

In the first few hundred yards Geelong gained a slight advantage, and then the corner helped Scotch to get in front, but the Geelong kept a patient, long stroke, waiting for their corner. The Scotch had gained nearly two lengths, but Mr. Fairbairn called on the Geelong boys for their effort, and they responded, turning the corner well ahead, and finished strongly four lengths in front.

Second Heat
Wesley v MGS

The Wesley, on the south side, gained at every stroke and before Brander’s ferry was reached were four lengths ahead. Their rowing became rather slovenly here, and stroke caught a bad crab, which permitted the Grammar crew to make up over a length. The Wesley were soon underway again, and were five lengths ahead at the Baths corner. Their boat was almost dead slow turning the sharp angle and Melbourne shot up within a couple of lengths but only to fall away again. Wesley won by four lengths.

A winning oar on display in the Wesley boatshed

Second Crews

(This was not raced at the Head of the River regatta but on Albert Park Lake on 9th October 1896.)

Time: 5:15.0
Margins: 3/4 length and 6 lengths

1st Geelong Grammar - Bow: H Miller, 2: O Calvert, 3: A Aitken, Str: N Macartney, Cox: E White Cch: Mr. J. Cuthbertson
2nd Melbourne Grammar - Bow: H Joseph, 2: H Hillman, 3: W Alexander, Str: C Watson, Cox: W Waley, Cch: Mr A Evans
3rd Wesley College
- Bow: E Salter, 2: J Cumpston, 3: J Grigg, Str: W Willis, Cox: H Clements, Cch: Mr J Carney

The Argus reported this race as follows:

The annual race between four-oared crews from the public schools was rowed on the Albert Park Lake yesterday afternoon

Geelong was on the western station, Wesley in the centre, and Melbourne on the extreme outside. The dark blues got the best of the start, and went away in the lead, Wesley were soon dropping astern. At the first Island, Geelong were clear of Wesley, but were about ¾ of a length behind the Melburnians, Geelong gradually drew on the leaders, until at Pagoda Island the boats were almost level. As they emerged into the open water near South Melbourne, the dark and light blues were neck and neck, and rowed stroke for stroke for some distance. The superior condition of the Geelong boys enabled them to stay longer , and, coming away in the last 100 yards, they passed the judge ¾ of a length to the good; Wesley college, beaten off, about six lengths behind. Time 5 min 15 sec.


  • 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
  • MGS first crew names from MGS boatshed
  • Scotch Collegian magazine 1936
  • Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar Archives
  • ROWING. (1896, May 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUR-OARED RACE. (1896, May 18). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from
  • PUBLIC SCHOOLS ROWING. (1896, October 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from

< previous 1895

> next 1897

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management