Floating Memories: Archiving 150 years of the heritage of the Brighton Swimming Club

Posted on 18/10/2011 by


Brighton Swimming Club has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create an accessible archive that delves into a fascinating and extensive heritage of swimming in Brighton using archives that date back to 1860.

Founded on the 4th May 1860, at a meeting held at the Jolly Fisherman’s Inn in Market Street, Brighton – making it the oldest Swimming Club in England, the club promotes an ongoing heritage of swimming in the sea, the pool, water polo, sub aqua, diving and synchronized swimming. Traditional annual events are still held, such as the Christmas Day Swim (dating back to 1885) and the Pier to Pier race (dating back to 1936).

Until now, the club’s archives have remained unseen and unknown to members of the club, the public and historians. Artefacts include reels of unique 16mm film footage from the 1940s, letterpress posters, scrapbooks, gala programmes, badges, competition adverts, letters, photographs and newspaper cuttings are among the fascinating items to be properly documented and conserved. The legacy of Floating Memories will be an archive at East Sussex Records Office, a film archive at Screen Archive South East, a permanent exhibition at the Brighton Fishing Museum and the website www.floatingmemories.co.uk will allow the heritage of swimming and sea bathing in Brighton to be available for everyone to discover and enjoy.

At the very heart of this project are the club’s archives, and with hundreds of items available, there are endless opportunities for volunteers to participate in heritage learning. Training and volunteering opportunities are now being offered that will allow the club’s archives to be compiled, catalogued and digitised, so that this important slice of hidden history in the South East is not lost. If you would like to get involved please email: volunteer@floatingmemories.co.uk 

  • ARCHIVE DIGITISATION Archive training will be made at the East Sussex Records Office. Workshops in digital photography and scanning will be provided by the Design Archives at the University of Brighton, Kevin Meredith and Paul Farrington.
  • ORAL HISTORIES Training events will be given by Oral History Society Officer Alan Dein (The Guardian, BBC Radio 4) to record members of Brighton Swimming Club recall their personal memories.
  • MEMORY DAYS / WALKING TOURS / TALKS A series of memory day events at the Old Slipper Baths and East Sussex Records Office, historical research visits to the Rare Books Archive at Jubilee Library, Brighton Local History Centre and the James Gray collection at Regency Town House will provide inspiration to develop content for use in a series of walking tours and talks which will take place at the Brighton Festival Fringe 2012.
  • EXHIBITIONS Graphic Design, Illustration and Moving Image students from the University of Brighton will produce an exhibition at Brighton’s Fishing Quarter Gallery and also a permanent exhibition in the Brighton Fishing Museum which will coincide with Brighton’s famous Mackerel Fayre in May 2012.
  • WEBSITE The Floating Memories website will contain extracts from the archive, oral history interviews, images and texts, providing a snapshot of the club’s historical archive.

If you would like to know more about the project and volunteer opportunities available visit www.floatingmemories.co.uk, email info@floatingmemories.co.uk  or find us on  Twitter at  BSC_Floating

Posted in: Project News