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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

William Beach, 1888

an unknown artist

tinted lithograph on paper (sheet: 27.0 cm x 20.6 cm, image: 18.3 cm x 10.5 cm)

William (Bill) Beach (1850–1935), champion oarsman and blacksmith, learnt to row on Lake Illawarra, his family having taking up farming in the district after emigrating from England. He first got into a heavy, fixed-seat rowing boat at the age of seventeen but was in his early thirties when he began rowing seriously, winning £25 for a race at Woolloomooloo Bay. Sponsored by a publican, John Deeble, he upgraded his boat, won the Australian championship in 1884 and secured the world championship by beating Australian-based Canadian Ned Hanlan a few months later. He accumulated victories and prizewinnings until March 1886, when he and Deeble went to London. In August Beach won the International Sweepstakes on the Thames for a prize of £1200. He defended his Thames title in September and won the world championship and £1000 in November. He returned to a hero’s welcome in Sydney. In November 1887 thousands of spectators saw him beat Hanlan again, on the Nepean. A year later, again in front a vast crowd on the Parramatta River, he beat Hanlan once and for all, for £500. A father of twelve, Beach lived at Dapto all his life and was active in municipal organisations. He is commemorated in Bill Beach Park at Mullet Creek, Dapto and in the Bill Beach memorial monument, Cabarita Park, Concord.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013

Accession number: 2013.89

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Beach (age 38 in 1888)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.