Club History

Ulverstone Rowing Club first started in 1854. An ex-rower, Melanie Parker, asked Tige Carew who has been in the club for over fifty years to write up a bit on what he knew. Tige went through old minutes books from past meetings and searched through any old photos and any other sources of information that he could find. Unfortunately Tige passed away in 2003.

Thanks Tige

URC History (By Brian (Tige) Carew)

I can go back to 1868, where there was a house built on the present sight of the club, in a photograph it showed a lot of people that were connected to rowing. In old receipt books and minutes books it reveals even earlier years.

There was also a rowing shed built in 1903, but that one was also facing in a different position then the one that was built in 1921, that being the one that a lot of rowers had the pleasure of participating in. There were a lot of lady oarswomen starting at this time but it remains a mystery where the male and female rowers got changed. But never the less there was a ladies rowing crew that won the Australian Rowing Championships on February 6th 1922 in Sydney. That is no mean fete considering what they had then compared to what we have now. When one looks through the old minute books, money was as hard to get then as it still is. The club was getting second hand boats for a long time but were buying new oars (or looms as they were called then) Occasionally the club would order the oars then later find that they could not afford them and have to cancel orders. The boats and oars that I am referring to are ones that are no longer in the club, as this is before I was even born, but the rowers in those days would get the same satisfaction out of rowing as the rowers of today. Take the ladies crew, their first uniform was a sort of shirt and I'm sure it would have got caught in the slide and the rest of the uniform was bloomers.

When looking through the minute books, on October 18th 1938 the uniform was changed to Dark green, their blazer had to be dark green with a inch (15mm) white silk braid on the sleeves and pockets. The pockets were also embroided with a white Maltese cross, crossed with two green oars under the letters L.R.C (Leven Rowing Club as it used to be called). The cost of the blazer was 16/11 ($1.70) and the cost of the monogram was 7/6 (75c), what I can't find is when the club colours changed back to maroon and white Maltese cross. The first book goes to 2-2-1940, the club went into recess because some of their committee and oarspersons had already joined in the services, Navy, army or air force and went to war. Quite a few did not return.

During the time of recess the shed was easy to break into. It was some time when there was these three young boys looking for something to do, they pulled off some of the railings and got into the shed. It was full of boats because it also had some of Mersey’s boats. There happened to be an eight that caught their attention so they got to work and cut the bow end and the stern end and made a canoe out of it. Eventually it was a really good canoe. These boys grew up to be rather brainy men. Anyway they did get caught and had to go to court, seeing as though they were underage their names were suppressed from papers. But they did have to pay money into court every week, until it paid for all the damage.


When the shed from 1903 was built the main highway and railway came down near the club and crossed the river where the present Railway Bridge is. There were wooden piles on the railway and Road Bridge so it must have been very hard getting the rowing boats through. There was also a battle transporting the large boats as they only rowed fours and eight's. The boats were carried to the train station; they would have already ordered the rail trucks to carry the boats. There were three trucks, a long one and two short ones. The boats were tied down on special bags with straw stuffed into them. The boats would have to be sent off on a Tuesday so it could get to Hobart or other places in the state and be parked in the railway yard until the rowers picked it up ready for the Saturday morning. The crews would all go to the rail yards, unload the boats then carry them to the regatta. The rail yards were only just around the corner but the boat was a cow of a thing to carry. During the Hobart Regatta the boat would be used that morning and then housed in the Mercantile Rowing Club sheds. Because the Hobart regatta is on a Saturday and a Tuesday, the crews would train on Sunday and Monday. One time down at Hobart they had to row a junior eight Championship and it was three miles long after they had already rowed on the Saturday morning. They had to row the boat from where it was housed which was half way up the racecourse. They then had to go through the floating bridge on one end then cross the river over to the Lindisfarne Rowing Club where all the crews met up. So far they would have rowed 1 mile but then to get to the start of the race they had to row 3 miles. So by the time the race had even started the crew had rowed about 8 miles the stroke said "We’ll shall go over the racecourse hard". One of the rowers said we have already rowed about 8 miles, when we pass the boat sheds I'm jumping ship and swimming back. After a lot of talk the crew didn't even end up rowing.

After the regattas the boats were put back on the trains and sent back to Ulverstone where they were carried back to the club, washed and put away in the sheds. There was one year down at the Hobart Regatta where they were rowing their boat in to put it in the Mercantile shed and it became very rough and before they could get in to the shed from the water there were a couple of big swells and the boat broke in half. The crew made it back but the boat was a complete write off. They could not row at the regatta on Tuesday but they all rowed very well in the fours. The club only took the eight down and they were borrowing the fours. I believe there was a collection of money from down in Hobart and the Ulverstone people donated money and after a lot of inquires they bought an eight from the Xavier College in Melbourne. It arrived in Tasmania on the Taroona, the passenger ship of the time.


Our rowing shed was starting to get a bit old, so they started talking about a new one. On one of the plans, it was going to be a double story with a big dance hall up the top and the boat shed down the bottom but because of certain people it had to be changed. They said that it would be too dangerous and that we could not plan across where we had. But as time passed we ended up with a beauty of a club anyway. It is a funny thing though because a rowing club was built in Hobart, the Derwent Mercantile and it had a dance hall upstairs and the boat sheds downstairs. Also the Reeconian rowing club in Devonport has a big hall up-stairs. After our new shed was built whenever a rower saw another rower or member they would never say see you down at the shed anymore, it was always see you down at the club.

The old shed from 1921 was moved out of in1955 and into the new sheds because at the time that was all that was built. The old shed was then donated to the sea cadets, they lined it and made it nice and cosy but it came to an end in 1981 when it was demolished; that was a really sad day.

Not long after moving into the new sheds we stared to build the new club. It was built very gradually, starting with the making of the bricks all the bricks then were made by hand and most can still be seen but there are other bricks in some places where there have been extensions. There were working bees held down at the club, we had block boulders made out of steel, like moulds for the bricks; the mixture was poured into the moulds and pushed into the corners with sticks. There was a raked, flat sandy area, the blocks were taken carefully taken out of he moulds and left on the sand. If they had a crack they would be shovelled away and mix it back into the other mixture. In the end they had about the right amount of bricks to build the club. But some of the bricks did slowly disappear before the building was started. Is it a coincident that some houses around Ulverstone have the same bricks as the club???

We can't say they defiantly were stolen or if it was just the counting but every time that the bricks were counted the numbers always dropped. So Merv Wright said the only thing to stop this is to start building, so the new building rose. In between making bricks and building the club, money had to be raised. There were a few novel ways; one of them was an afternoon on some ones farm. People had to bring up there own cars. There was a special coarse made up and there was hay put on certain corners. The people would have to drive and pull up before they hit the hay and then reverse back as if going into a garage. A lot of skill was involved in everything that happened. Then this young bloke pinched his fathers brand new Holden car then went in all these competitions. I don't know exactly what happened but in one of the competitions this car just kept getting faster and faster and the next thing it turned over and over. Some of the officials went running to see if he was all right. The bloke was not even hurt. This is when it got around the crowd about the young bloke taking the car from his dad.

After the train was used to take the boats to Hobart they used a bus. They put the eight on the top of the bus and extensions were put in either end of the bus to hold the boat up. The rowers travelled in the bus. The owners ended up complaining the bus started to leak because of people walking on the top of it. They borrowed another bus for a while. We ended up buying an international truck, it use to do about 10 miles to the gallon. We had it one season then traded it in for a better double cab truck with a canopy on the back with a special frame that could carry an eight, three fours and a pair. All the fellows got in under the canopy or about seven in the front cab. It was rubbed down and painted in the club colours. Maroon and white and our Maltese cross were painted on the doors. Eventually that was sold and a boat trailer was bought and it was towed by private cars until the club decided to buy it's own car. They did the car up and painted our logo on the doors. Eventually they sold that car and bought a later model, it was a ford falcon V8 station wagon. One of the members who was a spray painter took it to his work and cut and polished it, touched up any scratches and when it came back it was as good as new. On our trailer there are signs advertising different local businesses.