Founding the Richmond Rowing Club
Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting of the Richmond Rowing Club held on 17th June 1863
In 1835 John Pascoe Fawkner founded Melbourne and it wasn't long until the British settlers brought their pastime of racing racing to Port Phillip
with the first regatta held on 21st January 1841.
Richmond Rowing Club, the beginning
In 1876 the Victorian Rowing Association was founded and it is the oldest rowing association in the world - pre-dating that of any even in England.
The earliest rowing clubs in Victoria were Ariel, Elswick and Leander, all of which no longer exist. The Melbourne University Boat Club is the
oldest still-running rowing club in Victoria. It was founded in 1859, but was closely followed by Melbourne Rowing Club and Richmond Rowing
On 17th June 1863 at the Sir Henry Barkly Hotel, a meeting was held and the decision was made to form The Richmond Rowing Club. The entrance fee
was two guineas, and the annual subscription one guinea.
The members at this historic meeting were Messrs. EJ White [Chairman], JC Arbuckle, M Arbuckle, MH Campbell, G Carrick, H Crossley, WT Greenlands,
EF Macallister, Jas Mitchell,
Jno Mitchell, Robt Mitchell and TE White.
Mr A Peregalli was the first President, with Mr EJ White as Vice-President. The position of Secretary and Treasurer was taken by Mr EF Macallister
and Mr Jas Mitchell was the first Captain. A draft constitution was prepared and the original club colours were selected. There is some confusion
about what they were as there are two differing reports recorded in The Argus for 1863 - gold was definitely a component, but the second colour
making up the uniform was either blue or green.
On Saturday 26th September 1863 the gentlemen residents of Richmond and South Yarra who formed the club gathered once more at the Sir Henry Barkly
Hotel, and from there they moved to the Upper Yarra. At 3pm sharp they christened and launched their boats for the first time, officially inaugurating
the club. All other Yarra-based clubs sent at least one crew in a racing craft to be present and mark the occasion. The neighbourhood of the
Richmond Punt must have been quite a sight at that time.
The anniversary of the inauguration of the Richmond Rowing Club was celebrated at a ball on Saturday 2nd July 1864 at the Volunteer Artillery Orderly
Room, Bridge Road. The club may have only been established for a year but it was recognised that the members had acquitted themselves with
distinction during that time and shown great ambition to see the club grow to compete with the other 'aquatic institutions' of the area. The
evening was a resounding success, with refreshments being provided in a large marquee adjacent to the building and a band supplying the music
and entertainment for the night of dancing.
The first win attributed to Richmond Rowing Club members was at the annual Prince of Wales birthday regatta in November 1865. The sport of rowing
had clearly already gained great appreciation as news reports from the day estimated numbers of spectators on the bank to be between 3000 and
4000. The Sir Henry Barkly Hotel was a popular spectator spot for the day, giving great views of the finish line. The first event on the programme
was a scullers race, which was led and won by K Mitchell of Richmond. Both Henry Mitchell and John Mitchell were listed as competitors on that
day and so it is clear the Mitchell family were a great presence at the club in those opening years.
In 1869, the Victorian rowing season was opened by 10 clubs with 200 oarsmen in a procession of boats, evidently rowing had found a devoted following
which has only grown with the passing years. Rowing in Victoria and Australia is still a thriving and rewarding sport and the Richmond Rowing
Club is a very proud, long-standing part of that history.
Winners of the Gardiner Cup 1869
From left: James Mitchell, Rob Mitchell, R Whitehead, Joseph Hood, J Mitchell
Birth year unknown; died 1978
After joining the club in 1910, Win held various committee positions. In 1919, he was elected as president, which he held until his retirement
in 1954. Win coached many crews and was a keen supporter of the club throughout his life. Sfter the shed was destroyed by fire in 1926, Win
donated a large sum of money as well as a set of twelve oars, a practice scull, a first aid kit and trophies for club races.
His interest in the club was manifest by his generosity, willingness to coach rowers, and his leadership in administration of the club. He was
described as as being a character whose unflagging energy helped place the club in its proud position in the 1930s, when the club won many
championships and Junior and Denior pennants.
In 1933, Win was elected as the first Life Member of RRC.