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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1940 QLD GPS Head of the River

The 19th Head of the River was conducted on Saturday 4th May 1940 on the Milton Reach of the Brisbane River. Conditions were good and the course was from Davies' Park to the Knoll above the Grey street bridge, totalling three-quarters of a mile.  

With the defending champions, Church of England Grammar School, having been defeated at the Southport regatta the previous weekend, the 1940 event had a heightened interest and was considered wide open. (Page 8, The Courier-Mail, 1st May 1940). Indeed, in a trial row on the Wednesday prior, Churchie's second crew proved victorious and thus replaced the firsts in the O'Connor Cup. A similar thing nearly happened to Southport yet the school decided to not switch the crews. 

The 5 competing crews lined up in the following order:

First Crews (2.30pm): No. 1 Church of England Grammar School, No. 2 Brisbane State High School, No. 3 The Southport School, No. 4 Brisbane Grammar School, No. 5 Brisbane Boys’ College

Second Crews (2pm): No. 1 The Southport School, No. 2 Brisbane Grammar School, No. 3 Church of England Grammar School, No. 4 Brisbane Boys’ College, No. 5 Brisbane State High School 

Despite their 'switch', Churchie attained the O'Connor Cup for the fifth time in the history of the trophy, having gone back to back. 


Organising Committee:

The 1940 Head of the River was conducted by the Queensland Great Public Schools Association.

Known Officials:

Starter: Mr. G. Smoothey

All Schools' First Four

The O'Connor Cup

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:14.00


1/3 Lengths (1-2)

1 Length (2-3) 

1st Church of England Grammar School - Bow: J. Stumm 10.10, 2: G. Fowels 12.4, 3: R. Stevens, Str: I. Cross, Cox: D. Friend, Coach: M. A. Mattingley

2nd Brisbane State High School - Bow: P. Winterflood 10.5, 2: W. Lister 10.9, 3: J. Stedman 11.12, Str: K. Brown 11.7, Cox: D. Dalzell

3rd Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: T. Patrick 10.2, 2: D. Newman 11.6, 3: R. Wilson 12.5, Str: D. Hinwood 11.3, Cox: N. Whitehead 7.0

4th The Southport School - Bow: J. L. Woodburn 10.3, 2: E. Cox 10.11, 3: J. L. Young 11.0, Str: A. Fletcher 10.8, Cox: K. W. Stevenson 7.8 

5th Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: G. P. Poulsen, 2: K. N. Stevens, 3: R. A. Henderson, Str: H. Bryan, Cox: F. D. Rutledge 

In 1940, Anglican Church Grammar School added the a four-oared boat, the Cossack, to their rowing fleet. HMS Cossack was a Destroyer boat, built by Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1936-1937, commissioned in 1938 and lost in October 1941. COSSACK, one of the most famous Destroyer, was a leader of the 8th Division which was in Alexandria at the outbreak of World War II and served initially in the Mediterranean. In 1940 the COSSACK, leader of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, became famous when it was involved in an action where a party of its crew boarded a German Tanker off Norway and liberated 299 captives. In 1941 the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was engaged in the hunt for the German battleship, BISMARCK in the North Atlantic. Cossack saw duty in the Atlantic and protecting southern British ports from German raiders. In October 1941 the COSSACK was torpedoed while escorting a slow convoy from Gibraltar to England and sand the next day.

The Race Described

“There was a slight head wind with the water slack. State High jumped to the front in less than half a dozen strokes, but they held the lead for less than 150 yards. Church of England Grammar, who had started at a medium rating but with plenty of power, took the front. 

The race quickly resolved itself into a duel between “Churchies” and State High. Spurt was met by spurt, the former a shade superior with each sprint, the advantage gained being a few feet with each burst until at the half distance C.E.G.S had a lengths and a quarters lead over State High, with Southport a length and a quarters lead over State High, with Southport  a length and a half away a few feet ahead of Boys’ College and Grammars. State High reduced the gap a quarter of a mile from home, but C.E.G.S responded and went away a few feet again.


It was here that State High worked its spectators up to a state of feverish excitement. With a determined spurt they reduced the gap to three-quarters of a length and it looked as though Churchies could not respond. But they did and held on. But State High had still another spurt left in them and at 50 yards from the line they made a last desperate effort. The Crowd acclaimed them as victors, but the angle of the finishing line gave Church of England Grammars the victory by a third of a length with State High second."

Page 16, The Telegraph, 4 May 1940 Edition 

All Schools Second Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:12.00


1/2 a length (1-2)

3 Lengths (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: M. Richards 10.11, 2: R. Taylor 10.0, 3: A. Hack 11.3, Str: D. Hinwood 11.6, Cox: M. Whitby 7.0

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: J. Murray 10st 10lb, 2: A. Bray 12.6, 3: J. Whittle 10.10, Str: D. Wilson 11.0, Cox: J. Bourne 7.8, Coach: J. A. Thompson 

3rd The Southport School - Bow: M. E. Fraser 10st 12lb, 2: J. D. Somerville 10.8, 3: R. V. Wolter 11.6, Str: C. Mitchell 11.4, Cox: R. A. Williams 7.0

4th Brisbane State High School - Bow: G. Van Cooten 9.5, 2: W. Horn 10.0, 3: G. Histed 11.4, Str: R. Love 11.6, Cox: A. Tovnaros  

5th Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: C. R. Warman, 2: M. A. Ashan, 3: G. H. Marshall, Str: R. C. Lukey, Cox: G. H. Flint 

Article attached to the above photo:

"David G. Hinwood, 17, one of the boys in the Senior Public class nearest the camera in the picture above, will stroke the first college crew. The second crew in the Under Sixteen race will be stroked by Ian R. Hinwood aged 15 (on the left of the photograph).

Ian is a versatile young athlete. Besides his prowess as a rower, he is also a champion swimmer of the college and at the All Schools swimming sports last March he won the50 metres race. He covered the distance in 31 seconds, breaking the previous record established by N. Wright, also a Brisbane Boys' College pupil of 31 2-5 seconds. 

David and Ian are sons of Mr. L. G. Hinwood (manager, Australian General Electric ltd), Sherwood Road, Toowong."

Page 11, The Courier-Mail, Friday 3 May 1940 Edition 

Brisbane Boys' College Crews

The Race Described

"Church of England and Boys' College moved out and rowed throughout with not more than three-quarters of a length between them. The other crews were soon left well in the rear. Southport's rowing was disappointing.

At the half distance the Boys' College had half a length lead, but Churchies were fighting hard at a slower rating, and it was thought that they might wear the leaders down. However, Boys' College finished up without having slackened in rating to win by half a length. Southport were three lengths away third, with State High and Grammars finishing in that order."

Page 75, The Portal, December 1940 Edition. 

Third Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Times: 4:09.00


3 ½ lengths (1-2)

3 Lengths (2-3) 

1st Church of England Grammar School (3rds) - Bow: B. Robinson, 2: J. Lassells, 3: J. Rowell, Str: B. Greenland, Cox: J. Armstrong 

2nd Brisbane Boys’ College (3rds) - Bow: E. Gillespie, 2: W. McIntosh, 3: W. Hamilton, Str: J. Millar, Cox: W. Owen

3rd Church of England Grammar School (4ths) - Bow: E. Falconer, 2: G. Moody, 3: A. Campbell, Str: J. Perry, Cox: F. Harrison    

4th Brisbane Boys’ College (4ths) - Bow: L. Lutton, 2: A. Stafford, 3: E. Erickson, Str: P. Lesservy, Cox: R. Fogarty 

“Although starting at the slowest rating, Greenland’s crew immediately took the lead, and it was apparent that their long stroke would carry them through to success. They led by a length at half way, and although Millar’s crew made gallant attempts to overhaul them. Churchies went away to win comfortably by three lengths and a half lengths.”

Page 16, The Telegraph, 4 May 1940 Edition


Page 19, The Telegraph, 1 May 1940 Edition via Trove

Page 10, The Telegraph, 3 May 1940  Edition via Trove

Page 10, The Telegraph, 2 May 1940 Edition via Trove

Page 16, The Telegraph, 4 May 1940 Edition via Trove

Page 8, The Courier-Mail, 1 May 1940 Edition via Trove

Page 17, Sunday Mail, 5 May 1940 edition via Trove

Page 26, The Portal, December 1940 edition via Trove

Page 75, The Portal, December 1940 Edition via Trove

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

Pages 74-77, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

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