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Wooden oar used by NSW and Australian Champion sculler Gertrude Lewis

Date: 1906 - 1912
Dimensions:
Overall: 2790 x 170 x 80 mm
Medium: Wood, metal, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Francis family of Mosman
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Oar
Object No: 00048181

User Terms

    Description
    Gertrude 'Gertie' Lewis was Ladies Sculling Champion of Australia six times in succession from 1906-1911 equalling Harry Pearce's record of Australian Championship titles. She also raced with her sister Kathleen 'Kitty' Lewis taking out numerous titles in double scull matches.

    When racing Gertie Lewis wore a red cap, navy skirt, white sweater, red sash, black stockings and shoes.





























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    was Ladies Sculling Champion of Australia six times between 1906 and 1911. Along with her sister Kitty she raced in both single and double sculls. Gertie competed in distinctive racing colours with a red cap, long navy skirt, white jumper with a red sash and black stoackings and shoes.
    SignificanceThese oars are significant as being winnings oars used by NSW and Australian champion sculler Gertrude 'Gertie Lewis' between 1906 and 1912.
    HistoryGertrude Lewis 'Gertie' 1887 - 1953 and her sister Kathleen Maude Leah Lewis 'Kitty' 1889 - 1945 were professional sculling champions on Sydney Harbour in the early 1900s. The sisters raced in both single and double sculls an also excelled at swimming and diving.

    After winning numerous double sculling contests with her sister, Kitty Lewis' career was cut short in 1906 when she was badly injured when a rowlock pierced her thigh whilst racing. Gertrude was Ladies Sculling Champion of Australia six times in succession from 1906-1911 equalling Harry Pearce's record of Australian Championship titles. Like male scullers of the time, Gertie and Kitty chose their own distinctive racing colours - red cap to match their red hair, long navy skirt, white jumper with a red sash, black stockings and shoes. They were coached by Mr Louis James Francis who subsequently married Gertie.

    The colony of New South Wales produced the best professional scullers in the world in the late 19th century. Seven men were world champions several times over between 1876 and 1907. With an international appeal only rivalled by boxers, these 'Champion Scullers of the World’ were wildly popular with an Australian public addicted to betting and sport. They received extended coverage in the sporting press and newspapers of the day. On Saturday afternoons huge crowds lined the banks of Sydney's Parramatta River to watch sculling contests. Wealthy publicans put up big cash prizes for the champions and gambling was encouraged. Rumours of race-rigging tarnished the sports reputation. The onset of the 1890s Depression also diminished their popularity. By the early 1910s the golden days of professional sculling were over.

    'Ladies' sculling races were added to regattas as novelty events in the early 1900s. Whilst not as famous as their male counterparts, their race results were still reported with great drama in the sporting press.

    In August 1906 the first ladies championship in double sculling was held on the Parramatta River and was won by Mrs Woodbridge and Hyde from a field of ten crews. Soon after, Mrs Woodbridge was challenged by Miss Gertrude Lewis to a race for 25 pounds a side for the first ladies sculling championship of Australia. The race took place in February, 1907 with Miss Lewis winning easily.

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