1932 A new boatshed at last!

At the beginning of the 1931-32 season a sub-committee was formed to investigate how the long held dream of building a new shed could be realized. The committee of nine worked tirelessly to devise a scheme, which was presented to the members. This scheme was accepted and the firm of Clegg, Morrow and Cameron were engaged to draw up plans. Then tenders were called with Mr. J. Weir being the successful tender. The boathouse when finished was to be the finest of its kind in the state and indeed the southern hemisphere with a large boat area, extensive locker room and change facilities, a dance floor of 2140 square feet, committee room, ladies cloak room, kitchen and all other modern conveniences. The total cost of the project was 2800 pounds, with 2000 pounds of that already raised by the dynamic and hardworking Social Committee. The other 800 pounds was raised by a loan taken out and guaranteed by stalwart committee members Arthur Browne,Ted Edwards, Charles Suffren, Jack Lawrie, T.J.Stevens, Joe Bickart and Charles Bunce. It was the culmination of forty years striving to build an edifice that would match the other two boathouses and grace the lake foreshore more aesthetically than the old and much repaired Alabama shed.

However the way to fulfilling the dream was not smooth with the City of Ballarat originally declining the club permission to build on the site they requested. On the 27th of November,Council received the club’s application and on the 1st of December notified the club it had been referred it to the Lake Ward members and the City Engineer for a report. Imagine the disappointment and extreme frustration when on January 15th the committee received a second letter stating that the application was NOT granted. There must have been a bit of behind the scenes lobbying when finally on January 26th, subject to some changes permission was finally granted. The shed had to be built alongsideand on the north side of the old shed. Once the new shed was complete the old shed was demolished. During the big drought of 2006-2012 we discovered and took photos of the foundations of the old shed.

I would like to think that George Morton who was the Town Clerk and a former Ballarat City Rowing Club member maybe went in to bat for the club. These days an application like that to Council would take YEARS to approve not just a couple of months! I have the original copies of that correspondence saved from the rubbish skip a year or two ago when over enthusiastic, not very careful members undertook a “clean-up.” Always be very careful about what you throw out-one man’s rubbish is another man’s history! That dirty rag under the workbench could actually turn out to be an original U.S.A. singlet from the 1956 Olympics! Unfortunately not everyone takes the time and care to examine so called “rubbish” before it is thrown out and sometimes the significance of items only comes to light much later. Once it is gone, it is lost forever.

One wonders how they achieved what was nearly impossible-in the middle of the greatest depression the world had ever seen, when so many people were unemployed, when there was a shortage of just about everything, when so many businesses and individuals lost all their money-the committee, so admirably led by Mr.Bunce, finally started the new boathouse. The 61st  Annual report states in glowing terms that “it has been the greatest season experienced by your club, not only from a rowing standpoint but from a generally progressive one.” By the date of the Annual meeting in August 1932, the new shed had been started and was due to be completed in another month. Consequently this meeting was held for the last time at the Wattle Tearooms. From a rowing point of view, while not quite as successful as last season the club still managed to place fifth on the Junior premiership with twenty points, well ahead of Wendouree in seventh place and Ballarat in ninth. The club was awarded the Wise Shield in perpetuity for again being the local club scoring the highest number of points on the VRA Junior premiership.

This season also saw Victoria win the King’s Cup. While the club never again had King’s Cup oarsmen after Lew Zilles and J. Beattie, we could claim some interest as the crew this year was again stroked by former Ballarat City oarsman Alex McLeish. The club attended six regattas for the year and recorded five wins. The most outstanding win of the season was in the Junior eights at Ballarat. The crew contained two of the outstanding novice oarsmen from last season S. Fleming and J. Connelly. Connelly not only stroked the eight to victory but three of the five other winning crews. The Junior Eights race had attached to it the Hutton-Jones Cup, which the club held for the next year.

Winners Junior eights , Ballarat Regatta 1932.
W.Blaikie, A.Desnoy, S.Fleming, F.James, Lew Zilles, Bob Aley, Arthur Browne, J.Connelly

Unfortunately the Sale and Bairnsdale regattas were cancelled due to the Depression because of the high cost of attending these regattas. Our Maiden eight had been training well and were looking to scoring a double win at these regattas. However it was not to be. Two wins in the eight there would have almost secured the Junior Premiership for the first time in the club’s history. The club also won the Colac Trader’s Association Challenge Cup outright having won the Maiden fours at Colac for three years in succession.

Signatures of Committee who guaranteed the loan to finally build the new Boatshed
Letter rejecting application
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