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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1944 QLD GPS Head of the River

The 1944 Head of the River was 'unofficial' as the official regatta was suspended for the duration of World War II. It was conducted on Saturday 6th May 1944 on the Milton Reach. 

Brisbane Boys' College attained an impressive treble, proving victorious in all three races. The Sunday Mail attributed much of their success to Mr. T. W. Erskine, writing the day after that:

"A wounded war veteran, who saw service in Malaya and Timor, was largely responsible for the triple win of Brisbane Boys' College in the head of the river race yesterday. He was T. Erskine, who was invalided out of the army.

Returning to his profession as a teacher, he took great interest in coaching the college boys, knowing that he would never be able to take part in rowing races again himself. 

For many months he trained the boys in preparation for the finishing touches which Mr. D. O. Magoffin put on them when he coached them just before the race." (Page 10, Sunday Mail, Sunday 7th May 1944 Edition via Trove)

"Not only did the college win all three races but in the thirds race, where two college crews were entered, the college took first and second places."

Page 10, Sunday Mail, Sunday 7th May 1944 Edition



Organising Committee:

Great Public Schools Association 

Known Officials:

Starter: Mr. G. Smoothey

First Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: n/a


1/2 a canvas (1-2) 

3 Lengths (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys' College - Bow: B. A. Junner 9st 7lbs, 2: E. R. Sneyd 9st 5lbs, 3: D. T. Loosemore 9st 10lbs, Str: D. B. Nimmo, Cox: E. R. Whelan 8st, Coaches: Mr. T. W. Erskine & Mr. D. O. Magoffin

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: H. Oldmeadow, 2: G. S. Briggs, 3: G. S. Ethell, Str: H. B. Lowis, Cox: H. J. Falconer, Coach: J. A. Thompson 

3rd Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: B. E. Hirshfeld, 2: J. R. Wyllie, 3: R. Pilbean, Str: R. A. James, Cox: W. Wilson

4th The Southport School 

The Race Described

"At 9.30 a.m. on May 6th, the First Crews of the various schools lined up for the big race. Although they were impeded by a strong wind and choppy water, the crews got away to a perfect start, and B.B.C. and C.E.G.S. jumped into the lead. Unfortunately after a dozen strokes, at which time B.B.C. held the lead by half a length from C.E.G.S. a member of the B.G.S. crew lost his seat and the crews were called back for a restart. 

In the second start, B.B.C., with C.E.G.S. slightly behind them, jumped ahead of the other two crews. B.B.C., rating 36 and holding their lead, raced neck and neck with C.E.G.S. At the quarter mile post, cox passed down the word that "Churchie" was going for a hard fast dozen. After they had completed six strokes, B.B.C. gave a hard half dozen, thereby holding their lead.

At the half-mile post, it was noticed that C.E.G.S. had begun their sprint, so B.B.C., who were rating 38 with comparative ease, gradually took up their rating, and while crossing the winning post, they were rating 41 in perfect unison. With only one hundred yards to go, B.B.C. began gaining rapidly on the tiring C.E.G.S. crew, and crossed the line half a canvas ahead of them, and were gaining four feet to a stroke.

B.G.S. was third three lengths behind C.E.G.S. and T.S.S. Fourth. Our only regret is that the time for the race was not taken as it would be interesting for all concerned to know it."

Page 57, The Portal, December 1944 Edition via Trove

Second Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: n/a


1 Length (1-2)

7 Lengths (2-3) 

1st Brisbane Boys' College - Bow: K. J. Donnollan 9st, 2: H. Hall 10st 13lbs, 3: D. H. McClymont 10st 10lbs, Str: A. H. Donaldson 9st 6lbs, Cox: M. R. Lockhart 7st

2nd Church of England Grammar School - Bow: W. Rodgers, 2: I. H. McClelland, 3: N. E. Gow, Str: N. E. Parker, Cox: W. H. Hyne, Coach: J. A. Thompson

3rd The Southport School 

4th Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: I. D. Brown, 2: H. W. Bradbury, 3: K. Winning, Str: H. H. E. Staines, Cox: J. A. Ramsey

The Race Described

“At the start of this race, all the boats got away well, and B.B.C., followed by C.E.G.S. jumped into the lead. At the end of the first fifteen stroke, during which time [B.B.C.’s] crew had shipped a good deal of water. Due to waves splashing over their riggers, B.B.C., held a lead of half a length from C.E.G.S. who held a similar lead on T.S.S. and B.G.S.

At the half-way mark, B.B.C. gave a hard dozen which increased their lead to a length. At this point, T.S.S. and B.G.S. were well behind. At the beginning of the sprint the B.B.C. boat flopped to bowside, which caused a loss of timing, which checked the run of the boat.

Valuable feet were lost, and C.E.G.S. came within half a length of B.B.C. However, the C.E.G.S crew were tiring, and B.B.C. settled down and crossed the line with a good length to spare. T.S.S. came third, seven lengths behind C.E.G.S. and B.G.S. fourth.”

Page 57, The Portal, December 1944 Edition 

Third Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: n/a


1 Canvas (1-2)

0.5 Length (2-3)

1st Brisbane Boys' College IV - Bow: B. Mellor 9st, 2: R. Hartley 11st 2lbs, 3: B. Fulcher 10st 9lbs, Str: J. Cameron 9st, Cox: R. Stacey 7st 5lbs

2nd Brisbane Boys' College III - Bow: B. Richards 9st 1lbs, 2: J. King 10st 7lbs, 3: L. Hudson 10st 2lbs, Str: G. Goadby 10st, Cox: A. Burnett 7st

3rd Church of England Grammar School III - Bow: G. l'Anson, 2: L. N. Sutton, 3: G. Paull, Str: J. MaCartney, Cox: F. G. McCartney, Coach: J. A. Thompson 

4th Church of England Grammar School IV - Bow: P. G. Treloar, 2: E. C. Moore, 3: C. A. W. Gray, Str: B. G. Luscombe, Coach: J. A. Thompson 


The Race Described

“In this race, two crews were entered by B.B.C. and two by C.E.G.S. A short time before the race, a stretcher in one of the College boats broke loose, and the crew had to return to the shed to tie it down. Having repaired the stretcher, the crew proceeded to the starting line and the boats lined up for the race.

At the start, B.B.C. III and IV, jumped into the lead. At the end of a dozen, B.B.C. IV, went ahead of the B.B.C. III and C.E.G.S. III dropped behind them. As the boats neared the finishing line, C.E.G.S. III were dropping behind, and B.B.C. III were gaining rapidly on the leading B.B.C. IV. But B.B.C. IV managed to cross the line a canvas ahead of B.B.C. III who were half a length ahead of C.E.G.S. III with C.E.G.S. IV bringing up the rear.”

Page 57, The Portal, December 1944 Edition


Page 10, Sunday Mail, Sunday 7th May 1944 Edition via Trove

53-57, The Portal, December 1944 Edition via Trove

Page 73-77, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

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