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1998: Memories of the Cuckfield Swimming Club

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Memories of the Swimming Club

THE MIDDY March 19 1998

In 1998 the Middy writer wrote.....

This is a photograph in Gwen and James Randell’s photograph of Cuckfield Swimming Club’s Gala in 1933. The picture was featured in the Mid Sussex Times two weeks ago and produced an interesting response.

Spectators are on the banks of the river which was widened to make a ‘swimming pool’. Although the pool was close to a sewage farm, steep banks and trees screened the ‘farm’ from the swimmers.

Rose Powell contacted us with her memories of the club:

“I do indeed remember that flourishing club and Cuckfield’s well loved pool where many happy hours were spent in learning to swim. In those days Haywards Heath had no pool and there was no alternative venue until the Burgess Hill Lido opened in 1935.

We coped with horseflies and swam with water voles which quietly hugged the bank, interfering with no one so we did not interfere with them. Incidentally such delightful little creatures have now become a protected species in England.

I can still name with certainty about 20 people in the photo. Can other pre-war Cuckfieldians do likewise?

What a splendid idea it would be to try and compile a record of those Swimming Gala spectators before their identity's become lost forever. Would anyone like to assist in this project?”

....and being the meticulous researcher and archivist that Rose Powell clearly was, she noted as many of the spectators' names as she could - which I offer here for posterity!

Back Row; 1. Mrs Jeffrey? (Churchyard Cottages); 2. Mrs Simmons; Mrs Seldon: 4. ____ ; 5. Kitty Hibling? 6. ____; 7. George Powell; 8. ______; 9._______; 10. George Markwick; 11. ______; 12______; 13. _____ 14.____ ; 15 Pennifold; 16_________ ; 17_________; 18_________; 19_________ ;20_______; 21______;

Middle Row: 22. Mrs Jones; 23. Esme Jones; 24. Betty Powell; 25. Joan Stewart; 26. Mrs Stewart; 27. Miss Russell; 28. Arthur Godding; 29. May Godding; 30.______; 31._______; 32. Mr Tidey; 33.;Derek Tidey; 34. Nesta Tidey; 35. Mrs Tidey; 36.Mrs Whall ; 37.;Tommy Whall (postman) 38. Mr Drew; 39. Mrs Drew; 40.; _____ 41. ______; 42.____; 43._____; 44. Mrs Watts?; 45.;_____ 46._______;

Left-Hand Group & Bottom Row 47.____; 48._____;49._____;50.Alan Humphrey ;51. Jack Humphrey ; 52.Vivian Jones ;53. _____;54.; Dora Miles 55. ________; 56.______; 57.;_____ 58.;_____ 59. PC Day; 60. Mrs Day; 61. Miss Day 62. Miss Day; 63.;_____ 64._____; 65._____; 66.______; 67.Keith Rapley;

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 22 August 1933


CUCKFIELD SWIMMING CLUB GALA AND SPORTS will be held at the Pool, August 30th, commencing 5.30. Diving, comic, and open events, mop fight. Admission 4d., children free.— ADVERT

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 05 September 1933


If any of those who were prominently associated with the pre-war Cuckfield Swimming Club were present at the bath situated at Mackrell’s Farm on Wednesday evening they were no doubt pleasurably surprised at the great strides made by the present Club, which was brought into being only last June. The organisation has 200 members, many improvements have been carried out at the bath. including the erection a three-tier diving stage designed by Mr. J. Thomas, and the gala on Wednesday evening was the most ambitious and successful function of its kind held locally.

Diving board and hut at Cuckfield Club c1930

That the Club has the support of the inhabitants is shown in the gift of three challenge cups whilst over forty private residents and tradesmen gave donations in money or kind to the prize fund.

REV. CANON C.W.G. WILSON is the President of the Club, whilst the Committee, all of whom are workers, consists of Miss M. Drew, Miss M. Brigden, Messrs. B. A. Bridgeman. J.Brigden, C. T. Carter, C. G. Mitchell. R. C. Rapley, A. Thomas and H. Stenning. Mr. B. A. Bridgeman is Captain, Mr. H. Stenning Vice Captain, Mr. H. T. Latter Hon. Treasurer, Mr. C. Pike Hon. Secretary and Mr. W. T. Jenner Assistant Hon. Secretary. All of these are very popular with the members, who are being given every encouragement in learning the useful art.

The bath is situated in a picturesque rural spot to the ich was attended by about 250 adults and juveniles. The officials were :—Starter, Mr. J. Thomas; race judges. Messrs. W. Black. J. H. W. Blunden, F. Hoadley and A. Thomas; men’s and ladies diving judges, Messrs. D. J. Merrifield and E. A. J. Warne (Hove Shiverers); boys’ diving judges, Messrs. B. A. Bridgeman and A. Thomas; timekeeper, Mr, I. W. Runkel ; recorder and megaphone steward. Mr. W. T. Jenner ; telegraph board steward. Mr. A T. Rapley; men’s dressing room stewards, Messrs. C. G. Mitchell and J. Brigden ; ladies' dressing room steward, Miss M. Brigden; course and prize stewards, Messrs. F. H. Field and H. Huxley; gate steward, Mr. H. T. Latter ; chairs and programmes. Miss M. Drew and Miss D. Miles. Light refreshments were kindly provided by Lady Kleinwort, and these were dispensed by Mrs. B. Miles, Miss D. Miles, Miss Reynolds and Miss Jones.

THE PRINCIPAL CHALLENGE CUP was that presented by Miss Shirley Reid for the Club championship, and with this went silver medal given by Mr. C. Baker. The trophy was awarded to the member gaining the highest number of points in three specified races, and B A. Bridgeman—the local Police Constable and Captain of the Club—proved a popular winner with eight points, the runner-up being P. Pelling with five. Bridgeman scored a second success by winning the men's diving championship cup presented by Mr. F. Hoadley. The boys' diving championship cup (presented by Mrs. A. Thomas) and silver medal (presented by Mr. W. G. Bosley) were secured by J. Humphrey. A particularly interesting feature of the programme was a clever diving display by Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Merrifield and Mr. E. A. J. Wame, of the Hove Shiverers’ Club. Mr. Merrifield, who is amateur diving champion of Sussex, provoked roars of laughter with his illustrations of “the first dive," and the three stages of diving at eight, eighteen and eighty years. Later in the evening Messrs. R. Trill and G. Tracey gave a further exhibition of diving, and several of the events, such as the costume and candle races and the pillow fight, caused great amusement.

At the close of the gala the cups and prizes were distributed by Miss G. Middleton, who was handed a pretty bouquet by little Phyllis Langley.

Mr. Blunden, on behalf of the Club, thanked Miss Middleton, also the Hove and Lindfield visitors for their displays, Lady Kleinwort for giving the refreshments. the lady helpers, the donors of prizes, and the officials. (Applause).

Mr. W. Black proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee who were to be heartily congratulated on the progress made by the Club. The way the children had performed that evening had been a treat to watch. (Applause).

Miss Middleton said it had been a great pleasure to her to come and present the prizes. The promoters of the Club were to congratulated, and she hoped that this time next year everybody in Cuckfield would be able to swim.

The proceedings closed with cheers for the Club, the Captain and Secretaries.

Appended is


40 yards (boys under 16). 1. L. Hewes ; 2, H. Brooker; 3, M. Sayers. Time: I min. 1/4 sec

40 yards (girls under 16).- - I. P. Simmons ; 2, Rene Gasson; 3. M. Morgan. Time:1 min 1/2 sec.

15 yards learners (boys under 16). I, L. Runkel ; 2, W. Langley ; 3. J. Martin. Time : 25 3/4 sec.

15 yards learners (girls under 16). 1, P. Tyler; 2, D. Smith: 3. P. Simmons. Time : 25 1/4 secs

Diving (boys under 16).- 1. J. Humphrey ; 2, B. Moore ; W. Langley.

40 yards back stroke handicap (ladies). - 1, Miss W. Steele; 2. Mrs. Huxley. Time: 461/4 secs

40 yards back stroke handicap (men). -1, C. Pike; 2, H. Stenning: 3, L. Hewes. Time ; 48 1/4 secs.

Diving (ladies). 1, Miss W. Steele; 2, Miss Simmons.

100 yards (Club championship). -1, B. A. Bridgeman; 2. P. Pelling; 3, C. Pike. Time: 1min. 20 3/4 secs

440 yards (Club championship).— 1, B. A. Bridgeman ; 2. R. C Rapley. ; 3. B. Drew. (Decided last Tuesday).

50 yards (Club championship).—1, P. Pelling; 2. B. A. Bridgeman; 3, C. Pike. (Decided last Tuesday).

25 yards balloon race (Iadies). 1, Miss Steele ; 2, Miss P. Simmons. Time 341/4 secs

Diving (men). -1. B. A. Bridgeman 2, C. Pike; 3. J.Brigden

50 yards (men).- 1. E. A. J. Warne (Hove Shiverers); 2, B. A. Bridgeman; 3, P. Pelling. Time : 31 3/4secs.

40 yards candle race (men). 1. L. Thomas ; 2. C. Carter; 3, B. Drew.

Plunging (open).- 1. H. Stenning, 42ft. 5in. ; 2, Miss W. Steele. 33ft. 6in. : 3, C. Pike. 31ft. 10in.

100 yards (men).- 1, L. Thomas; 2. H. Stenning ; 3, C. Carter. Time : 1 min. 44 1/2 secs

40 yards costume race (men). 1. L. Thomas; 2, W.Woodham; 3 R.C.Rapley Time 46 secs

Pillow fight (open). 1. W. Langley; 2, W. Fuller: 3, W. Woodhams.

A fountain pen was awarded to Keith Rapley for the best performance by a child under fourteen years who failed to win a prize.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Wickstead for providing the 1998 newspaper Middy article and for passing on the investigative work that her sister Rose Powell carried out to ensure at least some of our Cuckfieldian ancestors can be remembered by name.

For more on the Cuckfield Swimming Club please follow the link....

P.S. Note the numerous references to C.Pike..... who knew that Cyril

was a star swimmer in his youth?

Alison Markwick writes:

So many familiar names including Cyril Pike, Reg Rapley, Percy Pelling, Derek Tidey and No. 10 . I just feel sorry for Keith Rapley who only received a fountain pen as a consolation prize.

Tessa Boyer writes:

Thanks for picking up my Dad, Percy Pelling, in the prize winners. He had just left the Army in the early 1930's after serving about 15yrs. He learnt to swim in the army as most of his service was all over the world. He told us he used to swim in the Cuckfield swimming pool, but don't ever remember him saying he won prizes. I have seen this picture many times & always look to see if I can see Granny Carey in the spectators or any of the Carey girls.

Alison Markwick writes:

I bet Cyril Pike was upset when Percy beat him at both the 50yds and the 100yds! Ivy was born in 1921 and always wanted to go swimming but she told me that she didn't own a swimming costume as "times were hard".

Tessa Boyer writes:

Poor Ivy. My Dad used to send Gran money for the mortgage from India.

Alison Markwick writes:

...there were the "haves" and "have nots" back in the 30s. Richard C only earned 13 shillings a week and had to feed a huge family. I have a very retentive memory and can remember Ivy saying that she never owned a toothbrush as a child and lost all her teeth at an early age. She had to go to school in 'passed down' wellie boots.

Ron Knight writes:

I love this photo. I am sure my father is in it somewhere. The identified names are so well known. We swam in that pool as children. Fed by a flow through stream, it was darn cold as I remember. It was closed due to health concerns from farm contaminants leaching into the water.

John King writes:

The guy in the front row with the grey moustache is PC Day my great grandfather with his wife and two daughters one of which would become my grandmother.

My great grandmothers name...Alice Maud Mary Simmons,

My grandmother Lottie King nee Day.

My auntie Alice Chappel nee Day.

Louise Botting writes:

I think No. 2 may be related to my mother in law; if it is her she was Harriet Annie Simmons, married to David and had 5 children



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