Early in 1903, an avid group of young men discussed the possibility of forming a rowing club. An inaugural meeting was held in the Norfolk Arms Hotel, Rundle Street, Adelaide on 6th February 1903 and it was proposed the new association be called the Torrens Boating Club.
With duly elected committee and approximately 40 members, the old Banks Rowing Club boat shed plus eight boats were purchased for the sum of £60.00 ($120.00), and so it was the Club took to the water racing in their scarlet Guernsey’s, white hats and knickers.
The club raced very competitively over the next 15 years until the outbreak of World War I, when rowing came to a standstill with a high enlistment of rowing members throughout the country. Luckily the Torrens Club was kept alive by a few older rowing stalwarts during the term of hostilities.
At the end of the war in 1918, the Club returned to full activity. Over the next decade Torrens competed well and won more than the lion’s share of victories both locally and interstate.
During the 1932-33 season, the old boat-shed was condemned by the City Council and demolished ready for a new two story brick boat shed that still stands to this day.
The Club’s first annual dinner was held in 1935 in the Hotel Rundle and has continued to be a popular annual event. 1937 saw five oarsmen, one coxswain, coach and manager from Torrens selected in the SA King’s Cup Crew. That crew duly won in fine style at Murray Bridge.
1939 saw the outbreak of hostilities once again, as World War II plunged the world into chaos. Rowing once again ceased as a large number of oarsmen enlisted in the forces, while others worked in munitions and defense industries. With peace declared in 1945, the Club was back on the water with the return of enlisted men and munitions workers. The next decade was a very consistent on-the-water performance era for the Torrens club. Success came through a multitude of wins in club and championship races. State pennants were almost a foregone conclusion for Torrens and this formed a sound base for the Club for the next two decades.
1957-65 was a real “golden era” with the Club winning Champion senior fours for eight consecutive years, Champion senior eights for seven consecutive titles, Senior premierships for six consecutive years, with also the Junior and Lightweight premierships coming our way another seven times.
Over the period on 1967-74 the club had a group of Lightweight oarsmen who covered themselves with glory by winning State titles, two National titles and formed the majority of the winning SA Penrith Cup crew. This was the State’s first ever win in this event.
Tragedy struck the club in 1975, when the top floor of the boat-shed was gutted by fire. Only the expertise of the fire officer in charge (an ex-TRC oarsman), saved the boats and bottom floor of the boat-shed. Over the next few years the untiring efforts by a small group of stalwarts saw this “phoenix” rise from the ashes, and the Club was back in business.
The 1980s onwards have seen TRC representatives achieve much. Among these achievements were many State and National successes, Australian and Olympic selection with members of the winning SA King’s Cup crews of 1981, ’82 and ’83 and SA Youth Eight in 1983.
History was made at the 1983-84 AGM when members voted for the admission of females into the TRC as active members.
The Los Angeles Olympics saw two TRC members and a coach gain the Bronze medal in the women’s coxed four event. From 1980 to the present day the club has had 46 members selected to row for Australia in various categories. Included in these were eight Olympians.
In recent years, the additional infrastructure acquisition of a boat-shed bay at the West Lakes South Australian Aquatic Centre ensured the Club had the equal of the best facilities and equipment for its rowers.
With the turn of the century came the Sydney Olympics with “our Sal” (Sally Newmarch) racing in the WLW2X, the 2001 World Champs with TRC’s Jo Lips stroking the Gold Medal WLW4X.
In our Centenary season of 2003, our traditional Opening Day, was postponed by a week as a mark of respect on a national day of mourning for the Bali bombings. On this day we christened our new 8+ called “Centenary 2003”. We also held our Christmas Reunion and an Centenary Annual Dinner for 270 people at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, North Terrace as there were too many people attended to use our own Function Centre.
Old members attended from all over Australia. On the water, Torrens Rowing Club was South Australia’s most successful club in this year, winning both Men’s and Women’s 1st Grade State Championships, both Men’s and Women’s Premierships as well as collecting 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze at the National Championships. Twelve of Torrens Rowing Club members’ were selected to represent the State at the Interstate regatta. Meanwhile, Miranda Bennett and Sally Newmarch won Bronze in the Lightweight Women’s Quad at the 2003 World Championships.
Since the early beginnings of the TRC, the status of the Club and its members have become firmly entrenched as one of the respected rowing clubs, not only in SA but throughout Australia.
Many thanks to Bob Russell for his efforts to ensure the Club’s history remains documented.
For a more complete history see Torrens Rowing Club, 100 Years.
Many older members and oarsmen retired from competition form a group within the TRC known as the TOMS (Torrens Old Members) who have a history all of their own.