C S Cunningham

Above: 1912 Olympic crew selected by C S Cunningham


C S Cunningham was the Club’s first inter-colonial representative being the five seat of the winning 1890 Victorian crew. He was also the first club member to be an Olympic selector in 1912 and also was a pers0n behind the organisation of the 1919 Peace Regatta.


The obituary in the 1938-39 annual report follows:


The passing of C S Cunningham has taken yet another of the men who were responsible for laying for the Mercantile Rowing Club the foundations on which todays successful organisation was built. He was one of the body of enthusiasts, who in 1885, prepared the site of the present boathouse, when it was a swamp. The outstanding personality and ability of Mr Cunningham made it inevitable that he should take a prominent part in the development of the Club. He was a member of the first crew to win a maiden eight for Mercantile, as far back as 1885, and by rowing in other successful crews helped to establish the Club’s prestige in regatta racing. he was Captain of the Club during the years 1889-94. For many years he was a contributor to the “Argus” and “Australasian” and by his shrewd comments and constructive criticism rendered fine service to rowing.


One of the activities which gave him a great deal of satisfaction was his association with the AIF crew, which won the King’s Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 1919. He did good work in the organisation of the two crews which represented Australia in this historic race. Despite advancing years, Mr Cunningham continued to take an active interest in rowing till the time of his death, and he attended most of the Club’s fixtures in recent years.


So passes another link with early Victorian rowing and the Mercantile Club.


Above: C S Cunningham as Captain


C S Cunningham is often referred to in the early part of the Club history.

A nucleus of successful oarsmen had originated from the first winning crews.  ….  C. S. Cunningham and V. F. Mason rose from the first winning Maiden Eight to be among the club’s first successful oarsmen in junior ranks following a win in the Maiden Four (Richmond Regatta 1886), Maiden Pair (Richmond Regatta 1887), Junior Pair (VRA Regatta 1888) and Junior Four at Albert Park in 1888.


And later:

C. S. Cunningham, having taken over from Boyd as captain in 1889, did not win any further races for the club, but had the honour of being the first club member selected to represent the colony of Victoria in the Inter-colonial Eight in the 1890 Season. Cunningham was to gain further distinction in later years when he was appointed one of the three Olympic selectors and accompanied the Australian Eight to the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912.


Above: C S Cunningham is seated on the right in this formal picture of the 1912 Olympic rowing team


Andrew Guerin 2017


Return to member profiles