Henry Ernest SearlePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Kim Tutt Brown

A monument commemorates Henry Ernest Searle, champion sculler of the world in 1888 and 1889.

A broken marble column was erected on the Brothers Rocks in the Parramatta River. This point is the finish line of the course on which Searle defeated Peter Kemp for the world championship.

Searle came to Sydney when he was 22 and competed in contests on the Parramatta River where rowing, in those days, brought the biggest crowds of any sporting events. The course for all these contests started near the present Ryde Road Bridge and finished at a point known as the Three Brothers, a grouping of three rocks that are visible at low tide. The course was approximately 4.8 kilometres and all these races were for prize money. In September 1888, Searle beat the then reigning World Champion, fellow Australian, Peter Kemp. The purse for that particular race was 500 pounds. The following year, Searle accepted a challenge from the American champion, W.J. O`Conner, this time for a purse of 1000 pounds.

The race was rowed over the Putney to Mortlake course on the River Thames, a distance of 7.24 kilometres. The Australian won the race and decided to leave England and travel back home. On the return journey, he became ill with what was described as `enteric fever`. When his ship berthed in Melbourne, Searle was rushed to hospital but died of peritonitis on 10 December 1889. He was 23 years of age. Huge crowds turned out for services in Melbourne, Sydney and finally at the funeral in Maclean.

Yesterday afternoon (says the S.M. Herald on Friday) the Searle memorial on the Brothers Rocks, Parramatta River, was unveiled by Mr. Ninian Melville, M.L.A. Two years ago, just after the death of the late champion sculler, a committee was formed, and it was decided to erect a monument to Searle`s memory. Subsequently a public meeting was held, at which it was resolved to issue subscription lists. This was accordingly done, about 350 lists being sent out. Of the 160 that were returned only fifty had subscriptions on them. The total amount raised was £289 14s. Id. With this sum in hand, tenders were called for the work. Messrs. Shervey and Lenthall, architects, offered to design the monument free of charge, and Messrs. Patton Brothers, took the contract much below the next lowest tenderer. The result of the work was seen yesterday. The memorial consists of a pedestal and broken column of white hard Sicilian marble on sub-base or plinth of Melbourne bluestone. The broken column, which is typical of the early close of the sculler's career, is relieved for one third of its height with reeds and flutes, while above are festoons of native flowers. A bust of the sculler is in bas-relief, and cross- sculls and wreaths decorate the pedestal. 
Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld), 
15 December 1891.


Address:Parramatta River, Brothers Rocks, Henley , 2111
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.845176
Long: 151.138581
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Monument Designer:Messrs. Shervey & Lenthall (architects)
Monument Manufacturer:Messrs. Patton Brothers


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 10th December, 1891
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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