Arthur R Blackwood

Above: 1904 Henley on Yarra, Mercantile approaches the finish

(b:1850, d:1905)
1889-92 – Vice-President of Victorian Rowing Association
1903-05 – President Mercantile Rowing Club
1903 – Founder of the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association with Sir George Fairbairn and Capt Rivett

1903 Merc Members #2

Above: The Mercantile membership in the 1903-04 season – Arthur Blackwood in middle

Arthur Blackwood was the Club’s third President and due to his untimely death in 1905, served less than two seasons. He succeeded J. B. Whitty who had held office for a period of 20 years and it was with great regret that he was compelled to retire due to indifferent health. J. B. Whitty was a generous supporter of Mercantile in every respect and the loss of his services was severely felt.

Arthur was a different President from his predecessor. He was a great supporter of the sport, also a member of the Melbourne Rowing Club, a prominent figure in the Victorian Rowing Association and a founder of the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association which ran the very successful Henley on Yarra Regatta.


The obituary in the 1904-05 annual report notes:

It is with deepest regret that your Committee has to record the death of your President, Mr Arthur Blackwood, which took place after a short illness in February last. During the period that Mr Blackwood occupied the position of President, he showed how very deeply he had at heart the interests of rowing in general, and of your Club in particular, of which he has been a very liberal supporter. To Mr Blackwood is due the thanks of all rowing men for his initial efforts towards establishing the present Henley-on-Yarra Regatta, and his death has removed from the Club a vert ardent sportsman and a good friend.

A R Blackwood 1903-05

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

Arthur Ranken Blackwood (1850-1905) was born on 12 January 1850 at Hobart Town, only son of James Blackwood and his wife Eliza, née Officer. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School (1858-64), Harrow School (1865), and Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., 1873; M.A., 1888) and was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple in 1875. In Melbourne on 15 October 1885 he married May Cunningham; their only child died young. Admitted a partner in 1879 in the firm of Dalgety, Blackwood & Co., in 1884 he became joint managing director with James Aitken of Dalgety & Co. Ltd. He was first chairman of directors of B.H.P. in 1885, but resigned next April after disagreements with G. McCulloch. He was also director of the Silverton Tramway Co. Ltd and of several other companies. In 1889 he was appointed colonial superintendent of Dalgety & Co.; in 1900-05 he was a member of the company’s local board of advice.

Andrew Guerin updated 2017

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