Rowing Club Turns 100
Hobart’s Buckingham Rowing Club has celebrated its 100th anniversary.
AIRLIE WARD, PRESENTER: Not surprisingly for an island state with rivers running through its major population centres, rowing is a popular sport.
Tasmania punches above its weight at the national level.
At the last Olympics seven of the 48 member squad were from Tasmania.
Buckingham Rowing Club, near Hobart is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary and to make sure it’s around in another 100 its recent focus has been on junior development.
In the past five years Buckingham Rowing Club has increased its junior ranks from just three rowers to more than 50.
At the last state titles the club won 11. It’s come a long way since Trevor Taplin joined in the 1930s.
TREVOR TAPLIN, CLUB MEMBER: We only had half a dozen boats and I got the shock of my life when I went into the boat house here and saw about 15 plastic boats on the racks.
It amazed me.
AIRLIE WARD: Mr Taplin, who’s turning 90 in a few months time, was a coxswain in his early teens.
He’s the oldest known surviving member of the club and fondly recalls the early days.
TREVOR TAPLIN: The old club house was separated from the ladies club house by a grassy area where there was a lot of parking.
But of course there was a little bit of cohabitation between the clubs and there was some romances too.
AIRLIE WARD: And some scandals.
TREVOR TAPLIN: One of the principal coaches, his wife rowed with the ladies club and he also met another lady from a lady’s rowing club and they went to another state and lived happily ever after and his wife remained in Tasmania.
AIRLIE WARD: The club gets its name from the early division of the colony in the 19th century.
Its early emblem was the swastika.
TREVOR TAPLIN: When war was declared in 1939, of course they removed the swastika.
AIRLIE WARD: Originally the club house was further around Newtown Bay but after becoming landlocked it was forced to move.
The current site on reclaimed land still angers 81 year old life member Wes Burton.
WES BURTON, CLUB MEMBER: Then they started to use Newtown Bay as a dump heap.
And they just dumped all the rubbish in Hobart into Newtown Bay, no walls no nothing, just dumped it.
And of course the rubbish and silt, etcetera, it just filled the bay in.
AIRLIE WARD: Mr Burton started rowing because he didn’t like cricket.
When he first joined Buckingham there were only four members.
WES BURTON: The rest of them were at the war, so there were four of us.
They taught me how to row and when war finished and our members started coming back, well we started to row.
AIRLIE WARD: Mr Burton was responsible for Tasmania’s first plastic rowing boat.
WES BURTON: We became known as the tupperware club by other rowing clubs.
AIRLIE WARD: So Wes this is the first Bucks Tasmania’s first plastic boat?
WES BURTON: Tasmania, yes.
AIRLIE WARD: Despite some signs of wear and tear it’s still being put to good use.
Seen a bit of action over the years?
WES BURTON: It has indeed it’s been around a long while and it’s named the David Poulson named after the greatest rower, coach, that this club has ever produced.
AIRLIE WARD: You’ve got one named after you as well though.
WES BURTON: Oh yes but that’s only because it’s a good looking boat.
AIRLIE WARD: Of course!
At 73 years of age, David Rattray still officiates at regattas he is also a life member and can possibly thank the club for his very existence.
DAVID RATTRAY, CLUB MEMBER: My mother would come down with her brother and then she and my father met and mum took up rowing and dad was still continued on with his coxswaining and they got together in 1933, I think, just after the depression.
AIRLIE WARD: Mr Rattray says rowing develops a wonderful sense of teamwork.
DAVID RATTRAY: Particularly when you get into the bigger boats and the bigger the boat the bigger the team and the more reliant each one is on the other.
I mean if you have an eight all crew you have to have eight here for training, you can’t train with seven.
AIRLIE WARD: Despite a strong contingent in the early part of last century, women deserted the sport during the war years and didn’t return until the mid 1970s.
Women now make up almost half of Buckingham’s 100 members, most of them junior.
But despite an elite image internationally, club captain Gordon Stewart says here the sport the more egalitarian.
GORDON STEWART, CAPTAIN: Even though the major private schools are involved in rowing, I think in Australia it’s also very much associated with working class people.
So like in Tasmanian clubs you’ll find a lot of tradesmen and labourers and all walks of life involved in the sport in Tasmania and Australia. And I think it’s a bit of a misconception of rowing in Australia.
Mr Stewart says they’ve got rowers from 14 different schools in the club from both the private and public sectors.
After having built their personnel stocks the club is now focused on rebuilding their sinking club rooms
GORDON STEWART: Despite the clubs you know the most successful club in the state at the moment, the actual club rooms is in a very poor state and that’s largely because of the environmental neglect in the bay over the 100 years.
So that’s our next step is to try to do something with if club rooms itself.