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Photograph of Bobby Pearce seated in a single scull

Date: 1920s - 1930s
Sheet: 200 x 250 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Christine Stewart
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: ANMS1288[021]

User Terms

    This black and white photograph of Henry Robert 'Bobby' Pearce (1905-1976) was taken by Milton Kent in Sydney.

    Pearce was the first Australian to win a gold medal in the single sculls. Later in 1928 he entered the prestigious Henley Diamond Sculls but was ruled ineligible because he was a carpenter by trade. The Henley race rules deemed anyone ineligible to compete who was 'by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer'. He went on to win the single sculls at the British Empire Games in 1930 held in Hamilton Ontario.

    During the Depression, Pearce had difficulty finding employment despite his sporting reputation. After the Empire Games he worked picking up scraps of paper at the Sydney Show Ground to earn enough money to eat. Eventually he was offered a job in Canada by the Scottish whisky tycoon Lord Dewar who appointed Pearce as his Canadian sales representative. In 1931 with his new job and status as 'distinguished gentleman' Pearce was permitted to compete at Henley where he won the Diamond Sculls.

    Despite his Canadian residency, Pearce competed for Australia at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. Again he won the gold medal in the single sculls event. He then turned professional and went on the win the world title in 1933.
    SignificanceThis photograph is associated with other rowing memorabilia that documents the history of Sydney Rowing Club from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century as well as the club's role in sending the Australian Eights crew to participate at the Olympic Games in Stockholm and the Royal Henley Regatta in 1912.

    HistorySydney Rowing Club is the oldest Rowing Club in New South Wales and was founded in 1870. It was originally situated at East Circular Quay but heavy water traffic necessitated a move to Woolloomooloo in 1889 and then to Abbotsford on the Parramatta River.

    Australia first sent rowers to Stockholm 1912. The eight won the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Regatta en route to Sweden. A change of personnel between Henley and Stockholm resulted in the crew losing some form and it missed a medal, whilst the Leander crew, which finished second at Henley, won the gold medal for Great Britain.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Photograph of Bobby Pearce seated in a single scull

    Assigned title: Rower

    Collection title: Charles Keith Stewart Collection

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