Rowing scull used by Tom Saul ; 1923; 9555
Rowing scull used by Tom SaulAbout this object
This restored wooden single scull ‘Seven Oaks 2’ was used by dairy farmer Tom Saul from Bellimbopinni near Kempsey to win numerous local sculling competitions and in 1924 the Australian Heavyweight sculling title and NSW Lightweight sculling championship held on the Lane Cove River.
Local rivers were once the focal point of recreational and sporting activities, with sailing and rowing regattas annual events on the Manning, Hastings, Macleay and rivers further afield. The regattas attracted a large number of spectators and professional scullers competed not only for trophies but also prize money. Spectators often wagered on the events too.
This scull was built by former Australian and world champion sculler George Towns. His sculls were highly regarded and sought after by professional scullers. Only a small number of them survive today. It illustrates the size and manufacture of a championship racing scull and evidences Town’s craft and scull building skills.
The Saul family had a long association with professional sculling, with Tom’s father John and his brother Jack winning many local sculling races. Tom’s attempt to win a world championship was unsuccessful however his son Jim won the Australian and world professional sculling championship in 1952 watched on proudly by his father and grandfather
Tom Saul’s collection of trophies, sashes, rowing vest and an illuminated address are also in the Kempsey museum collection and displayed together with this scull. They are a reminder of a time when hundreds of people lined local river banks to cheer on their favourite rowers and when our rivers were the centre of local social and sporting life.
In 1923, the year this scull was made, George Parkins was lamenting the end of such an era – “Still I regret to say that this grand sport is fading like a summer’s day into night”. George was quite right, with few such events now in existence, this scull serves as a reminder of local rowing races and the activities, sights, sounds and excitement that once took place on the Macleay and other local rivers.
Garry Munday and Debbie Sommers
20 July 2014
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