Floating Memories will focus on over 150 years of the sporting and sea bathing heritage of Brighton Swimming Club, and how it influences the people and the city of Brighton & Hove in the past and present day.The club has a wealth of historical information in existing archives that remains unseen by and unknown to the members of the club, public and historians. These archives date back to the formation of the club in 1860 and have been held at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery since 1995 when David Sawyers (a member of Brighton Swimming Club) donated them. The collection currently contains hundreds of items including the clubs rules from 1877, minute books from 1860, membership cards, posters, scrapbooks, cash books, gala programmes, competition adverts, promotional material, letters of correspondence, photographs, newspaper cuttings and other records.
Floating Memories is about properly conserving, protecting, documenting and cataloguing the existing archives and about creating new and continuing archives of the club’s more recent history (currently unrecorded) so that this important historical information is not lost. It is also about creating opportunities for the widest possible engagement with this important slice of hidden history in the South East that will portray swimming activities (sea swimming, competitive, water polo, synchronized and diving) from 1860 to the present day. The archive is at the very heart of this project and from it stems a wealth of possibilities for heritage learning. This material also helps to paint a picture of sporting life in Brighton as well as Britain since the club began.
The project will conserve and make accessible the existing swimming club archive material that covers the time period circa 1860 when the club was formed. Initial research and conversations with members has so far produced over 200 photographs, 23 reels of 16MM films dated 1940 onwards, Brighton Carnival correspondence from 1923, newspaper clippings, club membership cards, a document on the history of bathing costumes, postcards, badges, official letters and a document titled ‘The Next fifty Years’ was found which details the last 50 years of the Swimming club. The project will complete the archive by working with volunteers and existing club members, many of whom are now elderly, to record stories and memories, and collect any existing photographs, films or related memorabilia.
To appropriately conserve the existing swimming club archive material (c1860 – 1960) creating a cohesive archive that documents this unique cultural heritage, making it fully accessible so that others can experience, enjoy and learn from it.To archive the more recent history of the swimming club (c1960 – present day) by working with current members to collect previously unrecorded oral histories, photographs, film and memorabilia, adding this to the above to complete the archive of the club’s history.
To increase public awareness and understanding of the history of swimming and sea bathing in Brighton & Hove (and the UK more widely), and as part of this, increase understanding of the role and function of archives, and oral history
in recording, preserving, and interpreting past events, people and places.To enable a wide range of people to learn about their own and others’ heritage by investigating aspects of local history (sea bathing) and relating it to a wider historical context, enabling them to better understand the way in which events of the past shape and inform contemporary identities, values and attitudes.
To develop accessible resources for people of all ages and abilities to learn about swimming in Brighton & Hove from 1860 to the present day via a public exhibition (and related events), catalogue and online archive resource.
To create a series of opportunities for a wide range of people to participate in the development and delivery of the project in order to gain new skills, knowledge and experience. Participatory and volunteering roles will include: exhibition organizing, recording interviews, cataloguing and archiving, consulting, and developing print, publicity and interpretation materials.To digitise, conserve and display a series of rare 16MM films, which depict seaside life in Brighton & Hove around the 1940s and to create awareness to the importance of documenting everyday life.To display and provide the first public display on a 150 year heritage of sea bathing and swimming in Britain, which will provide a unique exhibition for visitors.
To provide elderly members of Brighton Swimming Club to feel connected with their past and for current members to become aware of own heritage for future generations to discover.