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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1918 QLD GPS Head of the River

The first  Head of the River run under the auspices of the GPS, (then known as the Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association), was conducted in Brisbane on Saturday 1st June 1918 on the Bridge Reach of the Brisbane River.

Four schools competed, and their positions in the race were as follows: No.1, Brisbane Grammar School (Light and Dark Blue), No. 2: Clayfield College (Black and Green), No. 3: Central Technical College, No. 4 Southport School.

Over a three-quarter mile course running from the University Club's Boathouse to Brisbane Grammar's Boathouse, the race would be postponed to the afternoon, allowing for a record crowd to lined the banks and seize every vantage point.

Barrackers from the various schools followed the race in launchers and the greatest enthusiasm and excitement prevailed among the boat laden spectators.

The conditions were ideal and the crews and river presented a very pretty sight with the respective school colours being displayed on the many crowed motor boats which followed the race. 

The officials for the day were

Starter: T.G. Mossop

Umpire: A. J. Westaway

Timekeeper: C. W. Briggs

Judge: J. F. Donovan

Chairman: Q. R. A. E. Colclough

Treasurer: F. G. Sherwood

Secretary: E. C. Hempsted

Rowing with a swinging easy stroke, The Southport School were victorious and claimed the school's first Lawless Cup which was presented to the crew's stroke, Mr. C. R. Dixon,  by Mr E. Colcough, the Chairman of the Queensland Rowing Association. Mr. Colcough expressed admiration for the winners, especially as they had beaten a crew which he had personally coached. He moreover congratulated all of the participating crews for their gallant effort.

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association was formed in 1918 to control sports between the associated schools. Therefore this is the first official rowing event.


Organising Committee

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association

All Schools Race - Fours

Distance: 0.75 mile

Winning Time: 5:40.00


4 lengths (1-2)

0.75 Lengths (2-3)

2 Lengths (3-4)

1st The Southport School - Bow: T. E. D. Marks, 2: Y. O. Yates, 3: T. L. Sparkes, Str: C. R. Dixon, Cox: I. F. Champion 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: G. A. Cash, 2: F. S. Marshall, 3: W. C. Williams, Str: A. F. Shirras, Cox: C. W. Harrison 

3rd Clayfield College - Bow: H. Ferguson, 2: J. V. Ogilvie, 3: E. L. Hargreaves, Str: S. R. Forrest, Cox: K. Robertson 

4th Central Technical College - Bow: H. Reed, 2: A. Kelly, 3: W. Illingworth, Str: W. Lewis, Cox: C. Gasking 

- Clayfield College's Crew in the All Schools Race 

- Clayfield College Crew.

The Race Described

The starter got the crews away to a very even start and after a quarter of a mile had elapsed, it was evident that Brisbane Grammar and The Southport School would battle out the finish with the latter rowing the best of any crew. After 300 yards, Clayfield were executing poor blade-work with their oars splashing badly and Southport had slowed their rating down noticeably.

A great race however ensued to the Bridge, the halfway mark of the course, where Clayfield College gained up ground on Technical College in the battle for third place with little between the two boats. The great condition of the Southport crew was telling its tale though and from the bridge they gained a length on their rivals from Grammar.

This order was maintained up to the Commercial Rowing Club shed where, with 300 yards to go, Southport lifted their rating and sprinted ahead of the field to win by 4 lengths, with the trailing crews left to battle out the remaining inches of the race. Brisbane Grammar finished second, though stopping when the gun was fired, were very nearly caught napping by Clayfield for second place. Managing to get their boat going however, they crossed the line three quarters of a length in front of Clayfield, who came in third with a two length advantage over Central Technical College. 


Queensland Rowing 1880-1995 by Jack Pritchard, published by Rowing Queensland

Page 3, Daily Standard, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove (

Page 4, Brisbane Courier, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove (

Page 3, Daily Standard, 3 June 1918 edition via Trove (

Page 12, The Clayfield Collegian, September 1918 edition via Trove (

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