“On 5th May 1888 the public baths in the village were opened.” So reads a report in the Log Book of the Edge Lane Wesleyan Day School. It continues, “In the local schools contest one of our scholars, Albert Oxley, won first prize.” The baths to which the report refers were private baths and a plunge about 22 yards long built by the well known local benefactor, John Rylands, adjoining the Town hall (now the Civic Theatre) which he had built a few years previously. The entrance, direct on to the shallow end of the bathside was in Dorset Street. Cyprus Street did not exist at that time. Emmie Massey told me that there were hanging baskets with ferns suspended from the roof along the centre line of the plunge.
In this baths Stretford Amateur Swimming Club was born. There were Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s sections with Juniors but swimming was segregated, for no respectable society at that time would even have thought of mixed bathing. In 1912 the building was altered extensively as work began on the 25 yard plunge which was opened on 10 May 1913 with new entrances in Cyprus Street as reported in the Stretford Telegraph on Friday 16th May 1913. The small plunge was for ladies and the large plunge was for gentlemen. Hanging baskets were now over both plunges!
The Club records consisted of Minute Books from 1913, cash books from 1903 (with a few breaks) and Membership Registers from 1948 are lodged with Stretford Library. The only reference to the formation of the Club is on the 1928 membership card pasted in the Minute Book of that year. It states “Stretford A.S.C. founded 1888” and I see no reason to doubt it. This makes 1988 our Centenary Year and it is strange to contemplate that then I will have been a member of S.A.S.C. for half its life.
On of the earliest cash book entries is “25/09/03 Champion Shield £1 5s. 0d.” (£1.25). You may know the shield which bears this title. You may even have won it. While I have been a member it has been used for the senior gents 100yds or metres freestyle championship.
I used to think that “Four” implied four lengths of the baths but I was wrong. A minute of the committee meeting of 27/02/14, though it gives neither the style nor the distance to be swum, states that “The winner of the Club Championship shall be styled Club Champion. The first four are to be known as the Champion Four and their names are to be inscribed on the shield to be kept on the club premises.”
The history of the Howarth Cup which is for the ladies 100 yds. or metres championships is equally interesting. It was presented to the club on 17/09/29 by John Howarth, father of Emmie Massey, mentioned in my opening paragraph. Emmie kept winning cups outright and Mr Howarth, feeling guilty about this, decided that he must present a cup for annual competition. Yes.. you’ve guessed it! Emmie won it first time but she was never to do so again. Her father barred her from future contests.
There is no clear indication of the size of the club or the subscription in the early nineteen hundreds. I can only guess that the annual subscriptions were probably 6d for juniors and 1/- for seniors. However, training is not a new idea as these two cash book entries show: –
- 09/01/03 34 pairs of dumb-bells £1 14s 6d (£1.73)
- 17/03/03 14 chest expanders @ 1/6d £1 1s 0d (£1.05)
Life Saving was taught and there was some competitive Water Polo and swimming.
- 29/01/08 Sold 4 Life-saving handbooks 2s 0d (10p)
- 07/02/08 Affiliation to NCASA 15s 0d (75p) – I think this was for two years
- 13/09/09 Hire of Bath for annual gala £1 11s 6d (£1.58)
- 15/04/12 M & D S & WPA (Entry and Affiliation Fees)17/6 (88p)
- 01/07/12 M & D S & WPA Fine 5s 0d (25p) – As sometimes happens today, someone must have blundered
In 1914 the expenditure of the club was less than £40. The books were audited on 03/04/15 and show a balance of £3 18s 0d but I note that the first entry on resumption in 1919 was: –
- To balance from 1914 4/- (20p)
Bookkeeping left a lot to be desired in those days!
The earliest remaining Minute Book starts on 27/10/13. and shows that the monthly committee meetings must have lasted for only a few minutes. (The present committee would be envious). The first six meetings were concerned solely with whist drives, a popular pastime and fundraiser, and a dance. There was no mention of swimming, except that on 8/12/13. “It was decided to retain the services of Mr. Crawshaw as instructor and that the matter should be referred to the committee after the audit.” The audit, which I am sure did not clarify the muddle, seems to have taken place on 20/01/14 but at a committee on 19/01/14 the minutes, after two pages of who was to do what at a whist drive and dance, it was decided that Mr Owen write to Mr. Crawshaw explaining the position of the Club and our inability to retain his services”. Poor Mr. Crawshaw! I can only find two payments, £2 4s 0d and £1 7s 6d made to him. The periods covered by the payments are not given but the only amount which fits both is 5s 6d per night which would be a very high fee in those days. A week later on 26/01/14. the AGM was held but the minutes report only that there was a large attendance and give a list of the officials elected. Perhaps AGM’s were just as brief as committee meetings.
On 20/03/14. the committee must have had a very busy meeting. First claim membership then, as now, seem to have been causing trouble but “John Smithson’s request to be allowed to swim for Old Trafford Junior Squad and remain a first claim for Stretford was agreed”. A proposal not to enter the M. & D. Water Polo competition was defeated as the secretary assured that the cost would not exceed £8. Instruction again reared its head and “it was agreed that Miss Farrell be engaged as teacher of the ladies at 3s 6d per night”. Now Miss Farrell should have had an ASA teacher’s certificate as decided at a much earlier committee meeting, but she hadn’t. To get round this it was agreed on 01/5/14 to advance 10s to Miss Farrell so that she could take the examination. As there is no more about this I presume she passed.
At the meeting of 01/05/14 a revolutionary step was taken. It was agreed that the Council be asked to allow mixed bathing. I presume that this was quietly “swept under the carpet” by the Council. If this had leaked out there would no doubt have been letters of protest to the press but for other reasons the world was about to be plunged into turmoil. The only reference to this event is 19/10/14 “Due to the war it was decided not to hold a gala this year”. The next few committee meetings dealt with whist drives and a meeting on 11/03/15 fixed the AGM for 6th April and a whist drive for 8th April. I don’t think either took place, as this was the last entry until 1919.
Following World War 1 a general meeting was held on 01/07/19. It was decided that subscriptions should be: – seniors 2s 6d, junior 1s 0d and so it was to remain until 1930 except for 1921 when each was increased by 6d. The subject of mixed bathing was again raised and it was resolved that the Council should be approached.
This met with no response, as did a determined effort made in 1924.
The committee met a week later, decided to affiliate to NCASA (7s 6d + 7s 6d for 1914!) and arranged a gala. After nine more meetings the gala took place on 01/11/19. In those days galas were not as we know them today. There were very few normal races and the programme was filled with novelty races, comic events, handicaps, interschool squadron races, exhibitions and invariably a polo match. It is interesting to note that entertainment tax had to be paid and that this continued until at least 1934. It was re-imposed after World War II but only lasted until 1952.
For many years to come there was one such gala a year but many small galas which were called semi-galas. These were for the swimming and playing of fixtures and consisted of squadron races, probably a handicap race and one or two polo matches. Typical prices of admission for the annual gala were: –
- Bathside reserved Adults 1s 9d Children 1s 0d
- Bathside unreserved 1s 3d 9d.
- Gallery 6d. 3d.
- and for semi-galas, bathside 4d and 2d, gallery 1d.
These were very high prices considering that a very good seat at a cinema in the late 1930s cost 1s 0d or less. But there was no TV and wireless (radio) and the silent pictures did not become established until about 1925. Consequently local entertainment was well supported and galas were no exception, two or three hundred spectators being not unusual. In spite of this the club was always short of money, as we shall see. To get soon idea of today’s equivalent multiply the charges by 25 and you will realise how cheaply we live now.
Life-saving classes and water polo matches were quickly arranged. In 1921 we were champions of the Altrincham and District Water Polo League which ceased to exist about 1924. We beat Sale at Cyprus St. in the final but success was short-lived when in 1922 we re-joined the Manchester and District Swimming and Water Polo Association, entering also ladies’ and junior gents’ squadron competitions. (Note – not a senior gents’).
Advice about polo was quickly forth coming. On 17/02/22 the committee suggested “More time should be given to swimming and less to water polo”. We still hear that cry today! The same meeting agreed to have the photograph of the Polo team framed at a cost of 14s 6d. Here are some more snippets about polo: –
- 16/05/22 “that the spare ball shall be repaired and used for all practices.”
- 26/05/22 “that we have the match ball repaired”
- (and we had two senior teams and one junior team and a county player, George Borders, at that time!)
- 14/04/24 “Agreed the ladies have the old polo ball and a new ball be purchased.”
- 06/08/24 “Agreed Mr.K.be written to with reference to the polo caps he borrowed and has not returned.”
- 22/08/24 “The secretary’s actions in purchasing new polo caps was approved”
- 23/07/28 “Last Friday the referee refused to take the match because we could not find our leggings.” (Later the Club was find 5s 0d by the M.& D.)
- 17/07/28 T.H. who had been dropped from the polo team for using bad language to a member of the selection committee and his captain, had been asked to apologise or resign, appears before the committee, at his request. “He refused to apologise and was impertinent to the chairman. He was suspended sine die, the matter to be reported to M & D. M.& D. later “endorsed our action and said they wished other clubs would do the same.”
“And what about swimming?” do I hear somebody cry? Two instructors were employed since ladies and gents trained in different plunges. On 24/11/20 it was decided that the distance for the “Champion Four” should be 150 yards and that only the name of the winner should be inscribed on the shield. Some other championships were defined and on 24/04/23 shields donated by Mr. J. Ridge and Lady Robinson were respectively allocated to junior gents and junior ladies championships. In 1924 championships for half mile for gents and quarter mile for ladies were instituted. There were eight entries for the gents half mile and Frank Woodham won the final after clocking 13 mins 20sec in his heat. Nellie Boardman won the ladies quarter mile at the annual gala.
Most baths including Stretford were closed for a few months in the winter which made the swimming season approximately April to November. Meetings were held in the laundry at the baths almost every week in the season and an effort in 1925 to have meetings only on the first and third Tuesdays of each month failed. In 1928 there were 31 meetings! Events, including AGM’s, were arranged at a few days notice:-
- 27/04/21 Sub-committee appointed to revise Club rules as resolved at the A.G.M. on 19/04/21.
- 03/05/21 Revised rules produced and accepted by the committee.
Such hurried arrangements sometimes led to inadequate planning. On 23/10/28 the Secretary reported that on the night of the annual gala a boy had asked to swim. His request was allowed and he won two prizes. Later it was found he was not a member of the Club and he was called before the committee on 13/11/28.
“The boy said he thought he had paid his subscription but could not remember when or to whom. His explanation seemed sincere and he was asked to retire. It was agreed that we accept the boy’s statement and make him a member of the Club retrospectively. He was recalled and told of the decision.”
This must have been the first meeting that boy ever attended but it was certainly not his last, for Hugh Scanlon was to become a good swimmer for Stretford and Old Trafford, and much later President of the A.E.U. and a member of the House of Lords!
In the 1920s the membership of the Club was between 150 and 200, there being a few more juniors than seniors, and there were many vice-presidents and patrons. Expenditure varied considerably but rarely exceeded £150 per annum. Times were hard and culminated in the great depression about 1929. I can find no reference to the General Strike of 1926 but in 1921 and 1922 galas for the benefit of the unemployed were organised.
As in other times there were minor disturbances and major rows:-
- 17/08/21 “Agreed that the hot bath be emptied on Club night.” (This refers to the tiled tub later replaced by hot showers. Presumably members were basking instead of training!)
- 02/11/21. The Chairman refused to sign the minutes of the meeting of 21/10/21. It was then proposed and seconded that a vote of censure be passed on the Chairman for what he had said following the annual gala. The Chairman said that if this was passed he would resign. The voting was 6 for and 6 against so the Chairman resigned. The secretary then pointed out that all had not voted and suggested that the vote be taken again. The voting was then 6 for and 8 against! Presumably the Chairman withdrew his resignation since he signed and took the chair at later meetings.
Alas, we shall never know what he said at the annual gala as three pages were cut from the minutes of 27/10/21!
- 17/02/22 Two bills were to be paid and the treasurer said he had funds to pay only one. “All present were asked to see a patron to see if a little more money could in this way become available.”
- 06/06/23 “It was decided that owing to the circus visiting Stretford on the same evening, our match with Moss Side and a semi-gala be postponed until 22/06/23.”
And there were several other cases where the committee had to deal with resignations offered because of remarks made in public, members being brought before the committee for offences, parents disgruntled by non-selection of their child, members swimming for other clubs and complaints of prizes being of inadequate value. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
Several unsuccessful attempts to form school and works squadron leagues were made but in 1929 an inter-works competition materialised. The treasurer, J. G. Dawes, presented a cup for this which was to be an annual competition. Other presentations made to the Club in 1929 were a block and gavel (H. Whitehead) for chairmen and a megaphone (Dr. J. Robinson) for use at galas. In 1926 Stretford Council gave bath season tickets to those gaining R.L.S.S.awards. This continued until World War II. I got one in 1938.
Socials and dances were held spasmodically. Typical of these were a social at the Robin Hood on 17/11/23. (2s 0d including refreshments) and a dance at the Conservative Club on 05/12/23. (tickets 2s 6d hire of rooms and piano £210s 0d, orchestra £2 10s 0d) Chara trips with a “knife and fork tea” for half a day were an annual event. Today the chara (charabanc) would be considered a most uncomfortable form of transport. You may wonder “why only half a day?” Sunday trips would be frowned on and most people had to work on Saturday mornings. It was not until several years after World War II that the “five day week” became general. Trips were to such places as Doveholes, Chester and Llangollen. On 12/05/26 the trip was to Bakewell. Receipts were £22 3s 0d (probably about 50 people) and expenses were:- charas £15 15s 0d and tea at the George Hotel £510s 0d.
Things seemed to be going well but there were other signs too. Committee meetings were happy to accept small cash balances but did not ask about outstanding debts, some of which were fairly large. In 1928 a secretary who, from the way he kept the minute book, seem to have been thorough and conscientious, was elected and:-
- 04/09/28 “The secretary said that something must be done so that we can finish the season free from debt.”
- 13/11/28 “Overdraft 8/6d.” (and I suspect a little cash and some bills).
- 12/02/29 “AGM closed at 9.25 p.m. with the singing of the National Anthem. It has been a good one.”
maybe so, but:-
- 18/06/29 Treasurer absent. Secretary said in his opinion the Club was in bad state — and members and patrons owing subscriptions — bills outstanding.
- 01/07/29 “Treasurer again absent. Secretary said he was tired of working in the dark single handed and would definitely not stand another season similar to this.”
- 17/09/29. The treasurer resigned and another was appointed.”
Then strangely: –
- 22/10/29 (written and signed by the secretary) “Thus endeth the last committee meeting for 1929. May the next season be just as good.”
Unfortunately, minute books from 1929 to 1938 are missing but a cash book shows that the same secretary and a new treasurer took the Club through 1930 when there were 70 senior members and 120 junior members. A printed account dated 20/10/30 prepared for the AGM shows a balance of £15 1s 5d and ends: –
“The committee desire to express their thanks to all patrons, members and friends for their support during the past season and hope for a continuance of the same in 1931. ”
There was to be no 1931 season. A few small bills amounting to £4 2s 3d were paid in 1931 and the balance of £10 19s 2d was carried to 1934. I have not been able to find the cause of the breakdown. Possibly the depression had made the continual battle for funds too hard and there may have been too few willing to accept the running of a club under these conditions.
But the Club was to come to life again. Having no minute book from 1930 until 1938, I am dependent on cash book and newspaper cuttings. –
The Evening Chronicle of 10/07/34. reported: “After a lapse of four years, Stretford A.S.C. which flourished for 42 years is to be revived. Councillor Holt will be chairman – The Club starts with a balance of £10 19s 2d” The cash book show this balance brought forward to 1934 from 1930 and the early entries from 28/06/34 show that subscriptions were: seniors 1s 0d and juniors 6d. These low subscriptions (remember they were 2s 6d and 1s 0d in 1930) attracted a membership of 54 seniors and 325 juniors, far more juniors than ever before. The Club affiliated to N.C.A.S.A. but it seem that no competition other than the annual gala took place, the turnover for the year being a mere £35. Annual gala prices, too were reduced to Bathside, adults 1s 0d; children 6d; gallery 6d and 3d, probably because cinema and radio were well established entertainment. But the gala must have been a success for the attendance, I estimate, was about 350 as the gate realised £10 10s 0d.
It seemed that the Club had recovered strongly but another unexplained catastrophe was imminent. At the beginning of 1935 a few subscriptions were collected and a few small bills were paid but clearly nothing happened in the 1935 season. The account showing these few transactions was audited on 24/09/36.
Within two years of this collapse the Club was reformed with far fewer members and on 30/11/36 the Manchester Guardian reported:
“Stretford A.S.C. revived two months ago after being dead for three years held a successful gala on Saturday.
Charles W. Brand (Old Trafford A.S.C.) won the Borough Trophy (Charlie later become water polo captain of England)
Eric Harrison won the Club 100 yards gents championship.
Lillian Wells won the Club 100 yards ladies championship.”
The Borough Trophy, a silver cup, presented at that time by Dr. J. Robinson was for annual competition open to all members of swimming clubs in Stretford which 3 years previously had been promoted from Urban District to Borough. The competition was a 150 yards individual medley, back, breast and free style. Butterfly had not yet been invented. Other trophies presented at this time the Argus and Sheridan Cups and the Ashcroft and Maunders Shields. (The Argus was Stretford’s local newspaper).
Polo soon re-appeared. The Guardian reported on 12/05/37 “Stretford were defeated by Chorlton 4 – 1 in the third division of the M.& D.S.& W.P.A.” The Club also entered ladies and junior and senior gents squadrons in the M & D.
There was now no need to ask for consideration to be given to mixed bathing since this was now accepted practice everywhere. The Club was allotted times in the 25 yard pool. For the summer these times were: Wednesday and Fridays juniors 7-8.00 p.m., seniors 8.00 – 9.15 p.m., exclusive to the Club from 8.30 p.m. This meant that the public used the bath during all the junior time and nearly half the senior time. Once a fortnight junior squad members were allowed to train for 15 minutes in senior time. Now swimming was becoming an “all year round” sport and baths opened for reduced hours during the winter. During the winter the Club was allowed – juniors 6.30 – 7.00 p.m; seniors 7.15 – 8.00 p.m. on its two nights. Our present training schedules would have had to suffer some restrictions! Lifesaving was done on Sunday mornings, land drill in the filter house followed by water work in the bath after the public had left.
The Club could not hire the bath as we do now, except for galas. Semi-galas were held on some Club nights by using some senior time and booking an hour. Members were admitted on Club nights on payment of 3d for seniors and 1d for juniors to the corporation. These charges were half those paid by the general public.
Funds were raised by Whist Drives and Socials held at the Sandy Lane Tennis Club which stood at the Barton Road end of Cherry Tree Walk. In 1939 a dance was held at Sale Lideo, now the Mecca Bingo Hall. The chara trips of the 1920s had disappeared forever. Sunday rambles took their place. Coaches had replaced charas and ‘buses were replacing tram.
In 1937 the annual gala was abandoned because of lack of entries but a successful gala was held in October 1938 after a postponement from 10th September. This postponement was caused by the political crisis which ended in Munich whence Neville Chamberlain returned with a piece of paper signed by Adolf Hitler and himself. This appeared to avert the imminent threat of war but heralded yet another interruption for the Club. In 1939 the annual gala was arranged for 16th September but this was not to take place and the Club’s activities were to cease abruptly for almost seven years. World War II broke out on September 3rd 1939.
Following World War II, eight ladies and eight gentlemen were present at a general meeting held at the Public Hall (now the Civic Theatre) on 6th May 1946 and Subscriptions were fixed at seniors 4s 0d, juniors 2s 0d. The Old Trafford baths at Northumberland Road had been completely demolished by a German bomb, but Cyprus Street had escaped unscathed. Consequently Old Trafford S.C. as well as our Club had to be a accommodated at Cyprus Street, an arrangement which was to last until these baths were closed in 1982 prior to demolition.
Very little pool time was available. Club nights were held on Friday nights in the small bath! Eventually an hour in the large bath in the winter and some time on Sunday mornings after public hours were also granted. The first annual gala following the war was held on 28th September 1946 in conjunction with the United Nations Association which presented cups for competition between school teams.
In the summer of 1947 time had to be found for fortnightly semi-galas which consisted of squadron races and a polo match. On the social side, dances, beetle drives and Sunday rambles were revived, and tramp suppers and visits to pantomimes at the Ardwick Empire were introduced.
Inflation during the war had been surprisingly small. It was negligible when compared with what was to take place about 25 years later. Admission to semi-galas was still adults 6d; children 3d; a new polo ball was bought for £2 5s 8d and 50 printed posters for the annual gala cost 17s 0d. The first post war jumble sale held at the Wesleyan Methodist schoolroom in Edge Lane made a useful £18 and the year end balance was £39. This dropped to £17 by 1948 and consequently senior subscriptions were raised to 5s 0d and a non-swimming membership at 2s 0d was created.
At a committee meeting on 18th April 1948, the Social Secretary announced that he had obtained 1,500 fixture cards for £3 5s 0d but that this charge had been covered by two adverts. Though this was an obvious bargain, the Club secretary said he had promised the printing of the cards to another printer. He was very annoyed and promptly resigned. Troubles seldom comes singly:-
- 04/08/48 ” – The Secretary said that the Junior boys were badly disciplined and lacked the keenness shown by the girls.”
1948 was a time for revision of rules. A sub-committee of three appointed on 4th May revised the Club rules on 29th June at a meeting at the Urmston Hotel (I know ‘cos I was there!) and the new rules were adopted at an E.G.M. held on 16th November 1948.
Trouble was about to strike again. The already meagre training facilities were to be reduced. Early in 1949 Frank Dent, the engineer in charge of the baths, was very surprised one morning to find that there was no water in the large pool. Sixty thousand gallons of water had disappeared below Cyprus Street overnight. Repairs proved to be very difficult and it was not until 20th May 1950 that the large pool was re-opened.
The Borough Trophy, which you may recollect, was for an individual medley race was not attracting competitors, (I.M.’s were not popular) so it was suggested that the Trophy should be for annual competition between the three clubs of the Borough, namely Stretford, Old Trafford and Trafford Park. Rules to test the clubs in depth were agreed and the first contest was won by Old Trafford on 2nd September 1950.
In 1952 an event which was to change the fortunes of the Club occurred. In March of that year Mr. J. T. Winn who was already renowned for his ability to teach swimming and life-saving became our swimming instructor, a post which he was to hold with great credit and benefit to S.A.S.C. for 28 years until he died on 29th February 1980.
At the same time as Jack was appointed, I became Club Treasurer – a minor event – and took over a balance of £48 17s 5d I paid him at the going rate of £1 5s 0d for two hours on Friday nights. The £ was still worth a £! Here are some quotes from committee meetings about that time: –
- 24/07/52 “hire of the baths (Cyprus Street) for a gala has been increased from £2 5s 0d to £3.”
- 27/04/53 “Old Trafford had purchased water polo nets and we had agreed to pay £1 10s 0d this being half the cost.”
- 27/08/56 “New polo caps too expensive. Old caps to be repaired. (In fact, new caps were not bought until 01/05/59 when the set cost £4).
The turning point came imperceptibly. The juniors were becoming strong and in 1954 we narrowly wrested the Borough Trophy from Old Trafford. These competitions were hotly contested. We won again in 1955 and 1957 but Old Trafford was to regain the Trophy for the following three years.
Parents were becoming more interested in the activities of the Club. They joined as non-swimming members and from their ranks were to come many capable officials. The Club had previously been run mainly by senior swimmers and players but eventually parents were to take over the administration of the Club. In addition they assisted with training and took their children to training sessions organised by M & D at High Street and N.C.. at Preston. Well trained juniors would one day become well trained seniors.
There was a growing zeal for competition. Life-saving was also booming and many awards were won. In 1957 a young boy W. Dawson saved a child from drowning and in 1958 a young girl Denise Dyehouse, rescued a child from the canal. Both were made honorary members of the Club.
The Club was enjoying a little more water time at Cyprus Street but in June 1957 tiles started to fall off the small pool and this resulted in its closure for a year. Membership was approaching 500 but finances were low so a tuckshop was opened on the platform at the deep end of the large pool. This was to supply members with refreshment and the Club with additional funds for 21 years.
1958 produced a record membership – 518 juniors, 62 seniors and 13 non-swimming members. Cyprus Street was becoming very crowded. Something had to be done. A waiting list for juniors was introduced and their subscription was raised to 3s 0d (15p) Entries for the annual gala reached a record high. Consequently the programme was excessively long and handicaps, novelty events and the friendly polo match which traditionally ended all galas had to be dropped. Serious competitive swimming was be the order of the day and, in the next few years, many trophies for annual competition at the galas were presented to the Club.
Many juniors were now dedicated to improving their already high standards. In addition to attending organised training sessions, they often trained at lunch time. They were to gain local and national honours, too numerous to list here, and to continue to be successful as seniors.
In 1961 the Club regained the Borough Trophy convincingly and held it until 1966 when the competition was discontinued because of the strength of S.A.S.C. and the fact that Trafford Park, in decline because of the demolition of its residential area, could no longer field a team. The most outstanding performance was in 1963 when S.A.S.C. won 20 events and came second in the remaining
More competition was now needed and in 1962 we joined Lancashire County, Bolton District and Central Lancs leagues. In the spring of 1964 an inter-club gala was arranged and Bill Matthews presented a trophy. In the autumn of 1965 an inter-club gala consisting of squadron races only was arranged and Jack Winn presented a trophy. Both these were to become annual events and attract competition from many strong Clubs. Invitations to swim at many places were received and in 1967 the Club took part in the opening gala of the international pool at Leeds.
The Club was fortunate at this time to have the most active fixture secretary of all time, Arthur Warrington who also produced the Club magazine “Splash”. When he proposed a match with Toronto University, I nearly had a heart attack thinking of the cost! I needn’t have worried. It was to be a “postal” match, each club agreed events on the same day and swapping time with the help of British Airways pilots. (Arthur worked at Ringway, organising B.A.freight). Such a match was arranged in 1965 and we won. A return match was arranged in 1966 and we lost! Following this we received a request from Australia for a similar match and a request from the Swimming Association of Sweden to bring a team of about thirty for a match at Stretford as part of a tour. Unfortunately, we were not able to accept. It was a great blow to the Club when Arthur died suddenly on lst January 1970.
In 1964 S.A.S.C. was named “Club of the Year” in the annual report of the M & D S & W P A and in 1965 won all the M & D swimming leagues, losing only 5 points out of a possible 320 points. This was the first time this feat had been accomplished by any club and S.A.S.C. repeated it in 1967 and 1968. As a result thirty members were invited to a civic reception in the Mayor’s Parlour on 22nd September 1969. Water Polo was in the doldrums but Mike Glover started coaching and slow but sure improvement was made.
In 1967 the £ was devalued and serious inflation was not far away. Subscriptions were increased to 15s 0d, 10s 0d and 5s 0d and the training session fee was increased to 1s 0d (5p) ! We were still struggling along with a balance of about £150 and an annual turnover of about £1,000. In January 1971 a joining fee of 10s 0d was introduced. This was rapidly changed to 50p as the coins of the realm were decimalised in the February.
By 1968 when Club swimming had been at its peak for a few years, the Annual Gala had become so large that it had to be split into two galas. At the same time, by popular demand from the swimmers, it was decided that medals instead of the customary prizes should be awarded.
In May 1968 a Junior Social Club was formed. A room in the Civic Theatre was hired on Club nights (Fridays) and a record player, table tennis and other games were available. This venture lasted over three years but had to close in 1971 because of waning interest.
At the end of the sixties, age group swimming was introduced throughout the country. We had many successes in local and Northern Counties competitions and several swimmers reached the Nationals. At the same time, swimming leagues covering much bigger areas than the old districts were being formed to provide high quality competition and in 1970 the Swimming League of the North West was inaugurated. In its first year 1971 we finished second to Everton thus narrowly missing being in the national finals of the leagues at Crystal Palace – and this in spite of some of our best swimmers missing some fixtures because of being at universities! Such was the demand for this type of competition that a minor league was formed and we were one of the few clubs able to enter a second team which had to be composed of swimmers who had not swum in the major league.
But more difficulties were waiting in the wings. The national fuel crisis of 1973/74 caused much loss of training time. Membership began to decline so that in 1974 we could no longer field two team in the Swimming League of the North West and for the first time we failed to reach the final of the Major League.
In 1974, as a result of the national reorganisation of counties and boroughs, Trafford M.B.C. was formed and construction of a new pool at the Great Stone Sports Centre started at the end of the year. We took part in the opening gala on 19th June 1977. It was hoped that Cyprus Street would remain our headquarters but the boiler was becoming unreliable and repairs to the building were needed. The roof of the large pool was declared unsafe and that pool closed in May 1978. Due to the lack of space, the tuckshop which had had its best year with a profit of £86 had to be closed.
We were now confined to the small pool which had been built ninety years previously but we were able to hire the new pool at the Sports Centre for galas and for two hours on Mondays for training and water polo. In spite of these poor facilities, some swimmers were still successful but they were too few to enable us to compete as a club at the high standard to which we had been accustomed and in
1980 we were relegated to the minor league of the S.L. of the N.W.
On 29th February 1980, Jack Winn who had been our instructor for 28 years died. He had devoted a lifetime to the teaching of swimming and life-saving and had celebrated his 50 years as a teacher in 1975. He was succeeded for the next four years by Lois Millar whose task was made more difficult by the continuing deterioration of what was left of Cyprus St.
In October 1980 Trafford M.B.C. decided that the extensive repairs required at Cyprus St. were to be postponed for four years. As it was clear that the building and clubs could not survive such treatment, a joint committee from S.A.S.C. and Old Trafford A.S.C. started a “Save Cyprus St.” campaign but this was doomed to failure when propositions were rejected by the Council. Many, including myself, thought the Club could not survive a move to the Sports Centre at Great Stone Rd. as it seemed that pool time would be reduced drastically and costs would increase. Membership had dropped to 207 juniors and 25 seniors.
On 31st March 1982 Cyprus Street was closed to await demolition. The boiler had “blown up” for the last time a few days earlier. The move to the Sports Centre was now forced but adequate pool time was found for us and any fears of the move were quickly allayed.
Membership began to increase and was to exceed 400 juniors and 120 seniors. We were given the use of both the main and learner pools and were able to expand the “Learn to Swim” project started the previous year. More members than ever trained and qualified as instructors thereby enabling the Club to deal with this increased activity. Pants, the local outfitters, sponsored a gala and donated a trophy for annual interclub competition. The rebuilding of S.A.S.C. was under way.
What had happened to the finances during this period of high inflation? In 1977 the joining fee was raised to £1 and annual subscriptions were raised to seniors £1; juniors 75p and non-swimming members 50p. The senior and junior subscriptions raised again in 1980 and 1983 became £3 and £2. The fee for attending training sessions gradually rose from 5p in the early seventies to 30p.
In March 1984 Brian Coley took over as swimming instructor and introduced a training scheme which was new to S.A.S.C. This was “Pointscore” which gave us the opportunity of improving their times by swimming against the clock every month. Improvement was becoming evident but another check to progress was in store. The pool at the Sports Centre had to be closed in November 1985 for major repairs. Club activities were split when water time was found at Urmston, Sale, Moss Side and Manchester Grammar School. There was some reduction in attendance but many members battled on with their training.
It was not until 20th May 1986 that the Club was able to return to Stretford Sports Centre. Recovery from the dispersion was fairly rapid. The attendance fee was increased to 40p and from 1987 subscriptions were increased to seniors £5, juniors £3 and non-swimming members £1. Pool time available for training was now about 25 hours per week, a far cry from the old days. Major item of equipment bought were an Ambu Senior Mannikin and Resusci Junior for life-saving, a video camera to help with training, a share in anti-turbulence lane ropes to help swimmers and a photocopier to cope with the ever increasing amount of printing.
Our balance had become about £3,500 with an annual turnover of about £15,000. Much credit for this must go to our social and fund-raising organisers, who for many years produced money from draws, jumble sales and flea markets and ran dances, latterly known as “discos” or “hoe-downs”. In 1986 a visit to a pantomime at the Palace Theatre and a day visit to the Sun Centre at Rhyl were great successes.
At Easter 1987 about 40 juniors and soon of our teaching staff went to Aberystwyth University for four days intensive training in the university pool and gymnasium. This innovation may well become an annual event but, lest it be thought that the other objectives of the Club were being neglected, it must be recorded that the standards of life-saving and water polo were higher than ever before and a successful ladies water polo team was formed in May 1985, following which, Julie Allsopp was appointed Captain of Great Britain in 1987.
Mention must be made of what have become known as training squads. For many years these organisations have given valuable training to the best club swimmers at a level mach higher than could be provided by the Clubs themselves. However, recently these training squads have been allowed to compete as clubs, thus depriving normal clubs of the services of their most talented swimmers in the higher competitions. What will S.A.S.C. do? Will we become a supplier to training squads or will we become a super Club, incorporating our own “training squad”?
S.A.S.C. has much of which to be proud and rightly intends to celebrate 1988. There will be souvenirs, bookmarks and mugs. There will be a special day at the Sports Centre pool in May when it is hoped to hold a gala, give a life-saving display and present a polo match, and among other events there will be a dinner at Lancashire County Cricket Club on 26th March and a Family Evening at the Princess Rooms Urmston on 26th November.
In this brief history I have mentioned few names, and then only when necessary in the telling of a story, since it would be impossible to list all those who have devoted their time and expertise to the Club over the past hundred years. S.A.S.C. has been fortunate to have had such service, a benefit which it now enjoys more strongly than ever and which I hope will continue into the future.
I now lay down my pen and leave it to another to write about the next hundred years. Vivat S.A.S.C.
D. Gallia est. (Doug Francis)
JEAN WILSON 2nd in Derbyshire Memorial (N.C.U/14 Breaststroke).
JEAN SAUNDERS 2nd in M.& D. 100 yds.Breaststroke and
4th in N.C. 200 yds. Breaststroke
SENIOR GENTS SQUAD & W.P.TEAM top of their Division in M.& D.
JEAN WILSON 2nd in Derbyshire Memorial
BOB PROC’IOR Won M.& D. Junior Gents 50 yds. Breaststroke in
record 34.8 secs.
SENIOR GENTS AND JUNIOR LADIES top of their Division in M.& D.
JUNIOR LADIES top of their Division in M.& D.
Won Borough Trophy for first time.
SENIOR GENTS AND JUNIOR LADIES top of their Division in M.& D .
JEAN GOBLE Won M.& D. Junior Ladies 50yds Backstroke in record 33.9secs.
Won N.C.Junior Backstroke and was 3rd in N.C. Senior Backstroke.
Won Borough Trophy for second time.
JUNIOR LADIES top of their Division in M.& D.
Won Borough Trophy for third time.
63 RLSS awards from Elementary Certificate to Certificate of Distinction.
62 RLSS awards including a Diploma by ROSALIND WARDLE
ROBERT ASHLEY won Rastall Cup (Open U/14 50 yds.freestyle organised by Old Trafford S.C. since 1934).
ROGER ALDERSON won 2 championships in Manchester Schools championships.
Several members selected to represent Stretford or Manchester in Lancs. Schools finals.
86 RLSS awards and won Heape Shield (ladies) and Halden Shield (Mixed Clubs).
ASHTON JARVIS Won Rastall Cup.
RLSS Won Heape Shield.