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History of Balmain Working Men's Rowing Club

Formation of the Balmain Working Men’s Rowing Club 

It was reported that the shed, which stood inside White Horse Point, facing up Iron Cove, a stone’s throw from the Balmain Rowing club shed, was erected in 1886 to become the headquarters of the Balmain Working Men’s Rowing club. It was the Balmain Working Men’s Club that brought into discussion the class rule question of the mechanics and the amateur.  It was not unusual for members of the same family to be held apart by the “class rules” of the rowers amateur definition.  A working man, “a bloke who toiled with his coat off”, was debarred from rowing with or against his brother, who followed a “clerical profession,” even if that profession only brought in a miniature wage. 

The shed was built on Saturday and Sunday afternoons by a number of tradesmen who founded the club. The shed had two storeys, measuring 45 by 29 feet inside, the bottom storey having a height of 10 feet, and the top one 9 feet.  There was a platform, 24 feet by 29, resting on the pontoon 32 feet by 5 feet.  The lower floor was set apart and fitted up for the reception of the boats, and the upper room is intended to be used for meetings and entertainment. In front of the shed there was a 10 feet balcony with a neat iron railing bearing the arms of the club - (a rising sun). 

“It was reported that rivalry between the Balmain Working Men’s Rowing club and the Balmain Rowing club was very keen, the burly wielders of the oars and sculls looking with contempt upon the feeble boat pushing of the Toffs next door”. 

Scene at White Horse Point (Elkington Park), showing both Rowing Clubs abt 1900 Schnapper and Spectacle Islands in background 

The colours of the club were dark blue and white & the flag dark blue with white letters B.W.M.R.C..


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