Photograph of Cec Hall and Glenelg on Hawkesbury River c1933 by Bert Hornery from Iris Cammack Collection in possession of Carol Roberts, Windsor.
The Upper Hawkesbury Motor Boat Club (UHMBC) formed on 24 October 1932 with the aims of improving access to the river, encouraging aquatic sports and competitions, assisting Council in times of flood and generally making the sport of motor boating more popular on the Upper Hawkesbury. The UHMBC quickly became one of the most highly regarded in NSW, not only because of its popular social functions and well-run competitions but also because it promoted the annual boat race from Brooklyn Bridge to Windsor Bridge.
The race to secure the coveted title of winner of the Bridge to Bridge had its beginnings in 1933 with Cec Hall and his 4.3 metre stepped hydroplane Glenelg, powered by a 1912 Cadillac motor. Local resident, Walter Singleton, had laid a wager that the journey from Windsor Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge could not be completed within three hours so Cec Hall and Hunter Smith took up the challenge. Hall was well-known amongst motor boat racing enthusiasts on the Hawkesbury River and Glenelg completed the journey in three hours 25 minutes.
The pair would have made the trip in just under two and half hours except that mechanical problems forced them to stop and repair the engine after the connecting rod went through the engine block. They extracted the connecting rod and piston, replaced the broken piece of metal holding the magneto and using linings from the floor of the boat to wedge everything together, made it to Brooklyn Bridge.
In 1934, three boats set out to make the journey but Ron Irwin in Dixie was the only one to complete the course. He finished in two hours 24 minutes which was almost the same time as Cec Hall would have completed the journey in 1933 if he had not had engine trouble. Cec Hall and Ron Irwin are credited with winning the first two Bridge to Bridge races. Arthur Hayes in Archimedes achieved the fastest time in the Bridge to Bridge starting from Brooklyn in 1935 in two hours and six minutes, while Cec Hall won the race on handicap in the same year in Glenelg.
Excitement was added in 1935 when a RAAF aircraft followed the race to test the use of contact from radio operators in aircraft to operators on the ground. The pilot and radio operator followed the race from Brooklyn to Windsor and transmitted the positions of the boats to another radio operator at Windsor Bridge, who in turn relayed the information to the spectators.
The club exists today as the Upper Hawkesbury Power Boat Club and the annual race, called the Bridge to Bridge Powerboat Classic, creates as much interest now as it did more than 70 years ago.
Carol Roberts 2019
I completed the basis of this article for the Hawkesbury Gazette published on Wednesday 15 November 2017 for Colo Shire Family History Group as ‘Birth of the bridge classic’.
‘Motor Boat Club, Upper Hawkesbury Movement, Enthusiastic Meeting at Windsor’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 28 October 1932, National Library of Australia Trove Article 86056971, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86056971, accessed 4 November 2017.
‘Motor Boat Club, Successful Inaugural Picnic, Happy Day at Bungool’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 10 February 1933, National Library of Australia Trove Article 86053075, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86053075, accessed 4 November 2017.
‘Motor Boat Club, Upper Hawkesbury Doings’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 9 November 1934, National Library of Australia Trove Article 85799931, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85799931, accessed 4 November 2017.
‘Exciting Finish, Bridge to Bridge Boat Race’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 29 March 1935, National Library of Australia Trove Article 85799274, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85799274, accessed 4 November 2017.
‘Motor Boat Club Bridge to Bridge’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 10 January 1936, National Library of Australia Trove Article 86048443, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86048443, accessed 4 November 2017.
‘Boat Club News’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Wednesday, 21 May 1947, National Library of Australia Trove Article 85788554, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85788554, accessed 4 November 2017.
Bridge to Bridge Powerboat Classic, https://www.boatsales.com.au/editorial/news/2014/bridge-to-bridge-powerboat-classic-43187/, accessed 4 November 2017.
Bridge to Bridge, http://www.uhpbc.net/bridge.html, accessed 4 November 2017.