# 41553


Photographic portrait of Australian professional rower William “Bill” Beach, unbeaten as World Sculling Champion 1884-87. Sydney, circa 1884.

$750.00 AUD

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Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 103 x 63 mm (mount); recto of mount with imprint of ‘Tuttle & Co., Corner of George & Market Sts., Sydney’; verso with advertisement for the New York Tailoring Company, 667 George Street, Haymarket; print with pale foxing, mount a little darkened from handling otherwise very good.

William Beach (1850-1935) was a professional Australian rower who was unbeaten as World Sculling Champion from 1884 to 1887. Born in England, he arrived in New South Wales with his family as a child. He learned to row on Lake Illawarra, and lived in nearby Dapto for most of his life. Powerfully built, he worked as a blacksmith before taking up rowing professionally.

On 16 August 1884 Beach won the World Sculling Championship (and a £500 purse) for the first time by defeating the defending champion, the Canadian Ned Hanlan, on the Parramatta River. (The portrait of Beach by Tuttle which we offer here was probably taken at this time). He defended his crown successfully no fewer than three times in 1885, against Australian Thomas Clifford  (February), Hanlan (March), and Neil Matterson (December). All of these races were held on the Parramatta River.

In August 1866 Beach won the final of the International Sweepstake on the Thames, London, against Teemer, Bubear, Lee and others for a prize of £1200; and on 18 September he again successfully defended his title against Jake Gaudaur Snr. on the Championship Course on the Thames, for £1000. Incredibly, just a week later on 25 September, he defended his World Championship title yet again, this time defeating Wallace Ross and winning £1000 in the process. On his return to Australia in December 1886 he received a hero’s welcome at the Sydney Town Hall.

Beach’s final Word Championship race was against Ned Hanlan on 26 November 1887, on the Nepean River, in front of huge crowds of spectators. He beat Hanlan easily for a third time. After the race he forfeited his title to his training partner Peter Kemp, yet remained undefeated as World Champion when he retired, having won all seven of his Championship contests.

In later life Beach served as an alderman on the Central Illawarra Council, as well as holding several other honorary positions in the district.