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1930s style coxswain's megaphone

Date: 2001
Overall: 170 x 110 x 105 mm, 0.1 kg
Medium: Tin, wire blue paint, elastic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from George Neilson
Classification:Sound communication
Object Name: Megaphone
Object No: 00033063
Place Manufactured:New South Wales

User Terms

    This 1930s style coxswain's megaphone was made by George Neilson in 2001, a boy coxswain in the late 1920s/early 1930s. Small boys always coxed, or steered, women's rowing teams in the 1930s. The megaphone is worn attached to the head. The pressed tin funnel sits over the mouth and is held in place with elastic bands sewn together. During the 1930s megaphones were painted in rowing club colours. Blue was used for NSW state representative teams.
    SignificanceThis coxswain's megaphone is a representative example of the types of technology used in rowing during the early 1900s.
    HistoryUntil the 1940s most sweep oar rowing of eight-oared, four-oared and two-oared boats was coxed or 'steered' by an additional crew member called a coxswain or 'cox'.

    The cox would sit in the stern of the boat facing the stroke or captain and the other members of the crew. He would steer the boat by hand - two strings held in each hand would pull the rudder either left or right. In addition to steering, the cox was also the team's tactician and surrogate coach. His counting of the crew's stroke rate per minute and his view of the boat's position in relation to other competitors during a race necessitated a means of clear and audible communication - the hands-free megaphone.

    Most coxswains from the 1930s went on to become rowers themselves. George Neilson made this megaphone for the National Maritime Museum using the same materials and methods he used to make coxswain’s megaphones through the 1930s. His skill with sheet metal, acquired through his day job as a panel beater, was well known and crews from Balmain, Haberfield, Leichhardt and Sydney Rowing Clubs sought him out to make megaphones for their coxswains.

    Today coxless boats are more popular in club and competition rowing. Schools however, still prefer to use boats with coxswain's (male or female) as a training aid albeit now with electronic communication such as the madonna mike, as opposed to the hands-free megaphone.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: 1930s STYLE COXSWAIN'S MEGAPHONE

    Web title: 1930s style coxswain's megaphone

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