1946 The end……and the beginning.

The war ended in September 1945 and by early 1946 and around the country, sport was again being played, as the young and not so young men returned from active service. A Welcome Home Banquet was tendered by the three clubs hosted at the Ballarat City Rowing Club boatshed on 4th of May 1946. Mr. Bunce who had been caretaker President and kept the club running through the war and was President of the Ballarat Rowing Association as well, was chairman for the evening.

In August the club held a membership drive to attract new members and with mainly novice rowers it was always going to be a battle to get them “regatta” ready. The first regatta the club attended was Henley Regatta. We had a Maiden four and a crew of Laurie Sedgewick, Dave McCallum, Hobson and O. O’Neill with the evergreen Teddy Jones as the cox, who were successful in winning the club’s first post war race. They were competing in the Ladies Challenge Fours at Henley. As the only school crew entered they had a row-over. The crew had been recruited from the Ballarat School of Mines as part of the membership drive. The slogan the club used on the posters was “Be Attractive while you are Active”! I wonder did it achieve this goal.

After the war many areas of daily life were changed by new technologies. Rowing at the club underwent an enormous change when it was decided to introduce swivels instead of poppets. Much deliberation was held and expert advice sought from Ray Todd, coach of the Victorian King’s Cup eight. Boats were fitted with swivels and sixteen oars with plastic sleeves and collars purchased at a cost of 100 pounds. They must have proved a vast improvement on the old poppet style gates and leather sleeves around the oars. Again “splendid” work was carried out by Teddy Jones, Otto Hauser, Stan Wilton and “Hammy” Hamilton during the year. Their untiring work repairing and fitting boats again saved the club much time and expense. This was a tradition of looking after the equipment that Otto Hauser in particular, passed on to the next generation of rowers after the war like Albie McGuire and Alf Bannister who in turn passed it on to us. Sadly, despite our best efforts, for the last six or so years this tradition seems to have all but disappeared. Newer members are not interested in learning from the older members and following the time honored ways of the club.

The fleet consisted of one racing eight, two practice eights, three racing fours, two practice fours, two racing pairs, four practice pairs and two practice sculls. Most of the fleet should have been in good condition, as the five new boats purchased in 1938 would have had little or no use for five years. A rowing machine was purchased to assist with coaching-a box like contraption that had a sliding seat and rigger and an oar handle that was suitable for showing novices the correct rowing movements. Interestingly there was still one of these at the club when I started rowing so somehow it didn’t get destroyed in the fire!

The Social committee swung into action and with people only to ready to forget the austerity of war and resume social activities the social events organised were well patronised. The wind up function at the end of the year raised 455 pounds. Social evenings were held every month and were an excellent innovation. The Badminton team was revived and with many new players did quite well.

Sadly on 30th of October 1946 aged 71 Charles Henry Bunce passed away and the club’s loss was enormous.

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