South Norwood Ladies Swimming Club

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South Norwood Ladies Swimming Club

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South Norwood Ladies Swimming Club was formed in 1883 after a meeting at 'Sunnyside', South Norwood Park, the residence of Charles Horsley. This resulted in the inauguration of a club which, from the end of the nineteenth century until 1914, was the largest ladies swimming club in England, with a membership of over two hundred. At the time of its dissolution in 1934, after 51 years, it was also the oldest club of its kind. The club was based at the South Norwood Baths (Birchanger Road), and played a large part in the campaign for their modernisation from a small open-air bath to an enlarged covered facility, completed in 1913. Every year various activities were organised, including racing, other competitive events and the annual Entertainment (consisting of serious and light-hearted events). This did not take place during the years 1916-1919, when the Admiralty was using the baths to store the furniture of soldiers away fighting. Because of the War, membership of the Club fell from around 200 to 50 and never fully recovered. The problem was exacerbated by the coal strike in 1921 which meant that the baths were once again closed and the Entertainment had to be cancelled, whilst other clubs continued to function as normal; and also by changes in the district and the lack of younger members coming up to replace the Seniors. In 1934, with membership down to 33, the decision was taken to dissolve the Club.

During its existence, the Club attached great importance to the teaching of life-saving techniques, and a total of 157 awards from the Royal Life-Saving Society were gained by members. In addition, it was notable for being the first club to use a musical swimming drill; and for leading the way in the adoption of a practical ladies swimming costume.

The Honorary Secretaries of the club were:

Mrs. Horsley (1 year) 1883-1884

Mrs. Botterill (1 year) 1884-1885

Mrs. Lynch (3 years) 1885-1888

Mrs. Frederic Cooper (4 years) 1888-1892

Miss Mabel Cooper (7 years) 1892-1899

Miss Fannie Moore (26 years) 1899-1925

Mrs. Stuart Carter (1 year) 1925-1926

Mrs. Tom Sutton (7 years) 1926-1933

Miss Fannie Moore (1 year) 1933-1934


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