Guest blogger Dan Cox shares with us the Birtley Amateur Swimming Club 40th year celebration and the club’s history.
On the 3rd September, Birtley Amateur Swimming Club celebrated its 40th year as a club.

The celebrations night commenced with a formal welcome, the singing of Happy Birthday to the club, the cutting of a birthday cake and photographs.

The night continued with various demonstrations of swimming and lifesaving skills, both in the pool and on the poolside.

The invited guests, along with the Mayor of Gateshead and seven of the original founders of the club, enjoyed hospitality and refreshments in the club meeting room. They were able to view visual displays, read the Minutes Book and all of the back copies of the Club Newsletter (The Splash) dating from November 1995. There are three issues of The Splash produced each year.

Club members were each presented with a gift from the club in the form of a shoulder bag with the Club 40th Year Celebration logo embroidered on it and with a club colours cupcake.

Since the club was established on 3rd September 1974, well over 5 million lengths of the 25-metre pool have been completed by its past and present members.

The original concept was and still is, for the club to be a ‘teaching’ and ‘water safety awareness’ organisation. This helps young people to understand the principles and to receive training in lifesaving, as well as teaching them to learn to swim and assist in their personal development in this leisure activity.

Prior to 1972, Birtley Town had an open-air pool that was located on the site of the present fire station on Durham Road.

Birtley also had a number of other pools, that were made due to the extraction of clay for the brickworks that Birtley was famous for.

It was in these clay pits that local boys would sometimes play. There were a number of times when boys got into difficulties whilst swimming in the clay pits and there were occasions when some boys drowned by going through ice that had formed on the water.

One of the doctors, Dr Hugh McKay, was the Chairman of the Birtley Parish Council and he declared when the proposal for a new indoor swimming pool was made that he would make sure that a swimming club was established with the prime purpose of teaching young people to swim but that there was to be a strong element of lifesaving instruction to be included in the structure of the club.

Today the club meets at the Birtley Swimming Centre, Durham Road on Wednesday evenings from 7 pm until 9 pm.

With lifesaving being an integral part of the club structure, the club is affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society UK and is a member of RLSS UK Northumberland and Durham Branch.

We have recently registered the club as a Duke of Edinburgh Awards Facilitator as we provide for three of the four elements of the Award structure within the weekly programme.

We hope that this will widen our horizons and set us up for another 40 years of helping to develop the lives of young people!