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.
The East Sussex Records Office (ESRO) has agreed to house the archive once it is complete, and to assist with the compilation of the archive.
Screen Archive South East (SASE) have agreed to digitize and house 23 reels of 16mm film, filmed as early as 1940, made by member Roger Dunford who sadly passed away in 2010.
Brighton Fishing Museum has offered to house a permanent display within its enjoining Arch.