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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1920 QLD GPS Head of the River

1920 Head of the River was conducted on Saturday 15th May on the Hamilton Reach of the Brisbane River.

An immense crowd was present on the Hamilton course of the river as the All Schools Rowing Championship was somewhat overshadowed by the 1920 Commonwealth Regatta held on the same day. This was the first time since 1914 that the Annual Carnival had been held due to World War 1.

That battle for state supremacy created a vibrant atmosphere on the banks of the Brisbane River. The weather was in all respects perfect, cool air and bright sunshine making it to be a delight to be a rower or spectator alike.

The programme for the day had the All School's Race first at 2.30PM, with Southport reclaiming the Lawless Cup, followed by the 22nd Australian Sculling Championship won by Queensland and the 26th Eight-Oar Championship of Australia won by South Australia. 

Positions were as follows:

No. 1 Brisbane Boys’ College; No. 2 Church of England Grammar School; No. 3 Brisbane Grammar School; No 4 The Southport School; No 5 Central Technical College.

Page 57, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School



Organising Committees:

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association

Queensland Rowing Association 


Umpires: W. J. Westaway & F. W. De Little

Starters: A. C. Limpus & J. N. Devov

Judges: J. F. Donovan & E. H. Ruddle 

Timekeepers: G. H. R. Gill, F. Wheeler & D. O’Connor 

All Schools Race - Fours

The Lawless Cup

Distance: 1 Mile 

Winning Time: 5:50,50


3/4 Lengths (1-2)

3/4 Lengths (3-4)

3 Lengths (3-4)

6 Lengths (4-5) 

1st Southport School - Bow: F. M. Burkitt 8st 9lb, 2: C. S. Roberts 10st 6lb, 3: A.L. Murphy 10st 4lb, Str: R.H. Moyse 10st 1lb, Cox: J. T. H. Michod 7st

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: G. W. Barlow 9st 6lb, 2: A. I. Fowler 8st 4lb, 3: H. E. Macpherson 10st 8lb, Str: S. B. Skipper 10st 4lb, Cox: A. I. Fowler 7st, Coach: Mr. V. Grenning

3rd Brisbane Boys' College - Bow: O. C. Holland 9st, 2: N. M. Grimes 10st 2lb, 3: M. K. Gibson 10st, Str: R. V. Fletcher 9st, Cox: A. P. Douglas 7st, Coach: Dr. V. McDowall 

4th Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: R. L. Harrison 10st, 2: C. J. Grant 10st 3lb, 3: J. B. Klaasson 10st 9lb, Str: E. A. H. Watson 8st 12lb, Cox: C. W. Morgan 7st 8lb

5th Central Technical College Bow: G. W. Alder 8st 13lb, 2: E. H. Crease 9st 8lb, 3: T. T. Straughan 10st 4lb, Str: L. O. Bancroft 10st 11lb, Cox: F. Kunze 7st

- Clayfield College in the All Schools' Championship regatta.   

Church of England Grammar School 1920 All Schools' Crew 

In 1948, Church of England Grammar School commemorated H. E. Macpherson, the School's 3 seat in their inaugural All-schools' rowing race entry, by naming a foar-oared boat in his honour which they purchased that year. Horace Edward Macpherson was number 15 on the school roll attending 1913-1920. He was the School’s first Captain of Rowing in 1920 and as mentioned earlier, a member of the School’s first crew to compete in the Head of the River, finishing a fine second over 1 mile on the Hamilton Reach. He was also the first old boys to join the school council. His son followed in his footsteps becoming captain of Rowing in 1949.

Brisbane Grammar School 1920 All Schools' Crew

The Race Described

The five crews got away to strong starts. The Southport crew appeared to to be rocking on account of poor timing but soon regained composure and tempo to nose into the lead after the first 100 yards.

Their lead was short lived though with Southport being displaced by Clayfield and Church of England Grammar School with Brisbane Grammar and Central Technical College bringing up the rear of the the field.

At the half-mile, it seemed that the Lawless Cup would be decided by a battle between Churchie and Clayfield who were neck and neck with Southport lagging a length behind. Southport however found another gear with 400 yards to go and rowing with good swing, the southern crew began rapidly reigning in the break away leaders.

Churchie and Clayfield were fighting out a desperate finish yet it was Southport who shot out with a fine sprint in the last 100 yards.

Harnessing energy from the cheering crowds, the Southport crew surpassed their Brisbane based contemporaries to win the Lawless Cup by three quarters of a length through a magnificent final dash for the post. Church of England Grammar came in second with a three-quarter length advantage over Clayfield. 

Brisbane Grammar School and Central Technical College were both some lengths behind. 


Page 7, The Brisbane Courier, Monday 17th May 1920 Edition via Trove (

Page 4, The Telegraph, Monday 17th May Edition via Trove (

Page 5, The Daily Mail, Monday 17th May 1920 Edition via Trove (

Page 18, The Clayfield Collegian, December 1920 Edition via Trove (

Pages 31-44, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School

Page 57, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School

Page 68-98, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School

Page 100, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School

Page 42, Brisbane Grammar School Magazine, November 1920 Edition

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