History of the Watsonian Swimming Club
by Dr. Roger G. Smith, WSC Captain 2003 - 04
WATSONIAN SWIMMING CLUB
(Formerly Watsonian Swimming and Physical Training Club and Watsonian Women’s Sports Section
1. ORIGINS The Watsonian Swimming and Physical Training Club had its first meeting on 1st March 1933 with 144 members. Lessons were given by Freddie Lemmon to members – tickets were sold and handed to Mr Lemmon – 2/6 for a single lesson and 10/- for 5 lessons.
The School Engineer, Furnaceman and Janitor were involved in providing services for which they were given a termly honorarium.
The initial subscription was fixed at 15/- annually.
2. DEVELOPMENT Membership increased in 1934 to 167 members which is the highest it has ever been. It was agreed to have Club swimming costumes (slips) and towels provided by the Club and washed after each evening’s swimming. Physical training was carried out in one of the gymnasia and over the years a number of staff members took the PT class for which they were given an honorarium. After the War basketball, badminton and quoits were also available. Now there is badminton and swimming only.
3. UPS and DOWNS The baths were closed for a term and a half over spring and summer of 1938 for “improvements”. A refund of 5/- was made to the members. An outbreak of petty pilfering occurred in 1938. As a result a box was provided in the janitor’s office and 2 members were asked to go on the roof of the PT block to watch for possible intruders.
In 1939 the finances of the club were in a “serious state of affairs” due to falling membership and then with the outbreak of war the baths were closed until Easter 1941. They reopened for the summer term of 1941 with a subscription of 5/- (1/- for members of HM Forces).
In 1943 the Watsonian Club asked the Swimming and PT Club to continue and agreed to meet any financial deficit. A Holding Committee was set up. Members helped with the School Swimming Gala in 1944 as judges, timekeepers, doorkeepers and ushers.
Normal Club nights resumed in October 1945 with an annual subscription of 25/-. But membership numbers were low and by April 1946 the Club was in debt to the tune of £26/12/6. The Treasurer asked the members to recruit more or “if the Merchant Company heard that attendance was so low they would close down the baths as it was such a waste of coal, wages, etc.” On one night there were present Mr Lemmon, Mr Fleming (PT Instructor), the janitor, the engineer, the fireman, the Club Secretary and one member!!
Later in 1946 the baths were closed in the winter term due to an outbreak of poliomyelitis in the City.
In January 1947 there was difficulty with the washing of the towels and “slips”. One of the cleaners had done this work but she had left. None of the others agreed to the work on account of the difficulty of obtaining soap! Mr Lemmon came to the rescue and arranged for his assistant to do the job for £1 remuneration.
Also in 1947 the number of nights available in the spring term was reduced to 5 from 12 due to a coal shortage.
The first mixed social evening was held in 1972. This has become an annual event.
4. PERSONALITIES One of the founder members was Dr Boyd Jamieson who was an office bearer for many years. He donated the Boyd Jamieson Crocks Cup for annual competition by members over the age of 45. He wished it to be free style over 50 years but “not to be a life or death matter but more of an amusement”. The first winner was JGM McGregor in March 1939. The cup is still competed for annually in March.
At the AGM in 1946 Freddie Lemmon raised under Any Other Business his concerns that the Captain (Dr Boyd Jamieson) was in the habit of celebrating his birthday by diving off the top board and his 80th birthday was imminent. Dr Boyd Jamieson replied that his wife would second Mr Lemmon’s motion to stop him!
Freddie Lemmon who had been an instructor since the Club’s inception in 1933 retired in 1966. A presentation was made to Freddie at a social event held at the Iona Hotel on 13th July 1966 and at an Extraordinary General Meeting held that evening Freddie was made an Honorary Life Member of the Club. He was subsequently elected Captain for the year 1973/74.
5. PERIOD 1974 – 2004 In 1976 the Club’s finances benefited from 3 wins in the Football Club’s 100 Draw.
In 1978 a cup was presented by the Club to the School for the Junior Girls Swimming Champion at a cost of £60.
In the early eighties the Club donated over £1000 to the Myreside Development Fund and members took their share of Bar duties at Myreside Pavilion.
In 1984 there was “lively” discussion about the amalgamation of the Club and the Watsonian Women’s Sports Section (the ladies swimming club). No decision was made with “no urgency to pursue the matter.”
In 1985 the Club donated a Lifesaving Shield and annual voucher to the School.
In 1990 £750 was raised for the School Appeal. In the same year the first golf outing took place as well as the annual social.
In 1991 the annual subscription was raised from £1 to £6 with a 50% reduction for those over 65 years of age.
In 1994 a trophy for Primary 6 boys was presented to the School.
In 1996 £200 was given to the Floodlight Fund at the Grandstand Pitch. In the same year the ladies’ section moved to Wednesday evenings. It was agreed to have 4 sessions of 45 minutes – 1 for ladies only, 1 for men only and 2 mixed. This has worked out very well and continues to this day.
In 2001 a proposal was made to amalgamate the two sections again but the voting was 6 For and 6 Against. However in 2003 common sense prevailed and the Watsonian Swimming Club with a new constitution approved by the Watsonian Council was born.
Roger G Smith