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Rowing cloth badge awarded to Elsie Ellen Hawkins

Date: 1926
Overall: 94 x 80 mm
Display Dimensions: 94 x 80 mm
Medium: Cloth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Zelia Ellen Hawkins
Object Name: Badge
Object No: 00036124

User Terms

    This rowing cloth badge was awarded to Elsie Ellen Hawkins in 1926. Elsie Hawkins combined her work as a hotel publican and boarding house manager with a successful sculling career.
    SignificanceThis rowing cloth badge is significant in documenting the early sporting life of Australian women in the 1920s.
    HistoryThe 1930s was an exciting decade for Australian rowing. School sport became compulsory, team sports became more popular and outdoor activity was embraced by a nation keen to build strong healthy bodies. The active, athletic bodies of young men and women were now on public display. Rowers were full of vim and vigour and determined to have fun.

    Women's rowing boomed. Interstate competitions were staged and their sport was well-covered and keenly followed in the national press. This was also the heyday of the elite Head of the River school regattas. Thousands of spectators made the trip to watch the annual race and results were trumpeted by wireless across the country. This sporting boom inspired many people to take up rowing for the first time.

    Elsie Ellen Hawkins (nee Hicks) emigrated with her husband from England to Australia in 1920. Born in London on October 7, 1892, she lived to be 100 years old. Elsie's colourful working life included stints as a Hotel publican, boarding house and corner stone manageress, brothel keeper and numerous other odd jobs such as washing, ironing and cleaning. Her large amount of vim and vigour also extended itself to sports and hobbies. Despite never having learned to swim, Elsie took up competitive sculling as soon as she arrived in Sydney.

    Using her four year-old daughter Bonnie as coxswain, Elsie won the NSW Women’s Heavy Boat Sculling Championships Race in 1925. Her career also included a sculling victory in the 1927 Pittwater Regatta. Her skill and prowess in the sport of heavy boat rowing was unusual considering her diminutive size of 5 feet 5¼ inches tall.
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    Web title: Rowing cloth badge awarded to Elsie Ellen Hawkins

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