Hunt for relatives of a 19th Century South Shields swimming cup winner after trophy found over 100 years later

A man is hoping to reunite a rare piece of South Tyneside heritage from the 19th Century with the relatives of its rightful owner.

By Sarah Sinclair
Friday, 30th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 12:08 pm
David Rae from Blaydon is looking to find the relatives of 19th century South Shields swimming cup winner
David Rae from Blaydon is looking to find the relatives of 19th century South Shields swimming cup winner

David Rae came across the 1800's silver trophy linked to South Shields Swimming Club in his shed 35 years ago.

Now he is trying to track down the descendants of the man who won the cup on July 21, 1875, so he can reunite the piece of history with them.

The engraved goblet, which is around eight inches tall, was awarded to George Benson by South Shields Swimming Club, for his success in the open race.

The silver swimming cup was awarded to George Benson on July 21, 1875 for the open race

At the time, the competition was a notable event in the town and the race would have taken place in the North Sea.

According to David, who has been researching news articles from the time, George Benson won the race easily and ‘must have been quite an athlete’.

“The cup is a valuable part of North East heritage,” said the 62-year-old.

“He must have some relatives in the area somewhere and I would like to reunite it with them or pass it onto someone.

The engraving reads: South Shields Swimming Club open race won by George Benson July 21st 1875

“It might be a bit of a tall order, but I just thought somebody from South Shields or a local museum would like to have it, to know about the heritage and what this guy achieved.”

He continued: “Back in the day, the winner would have been given a choice of six Guineas - which was a lot of money then - or a cup, and he chose the cup, so it must have meant a lot to him.”

David came across the trophy when he moved into his old house in Stella, Blaydon in the 80s. The previous owners had been car boot sale enthusiasts and had left it behind among other bits and pieces, to be thrown away.

“How it came to be there is a bit of a mystery really,” he added.

Over the years David, who lives on Widdrington Terrace in Blaydon, has been in touch with South Shields Local History Group, who expressed enthusiasm about the cup, however the search for the relatives of George Benson continues.

If you are a relative, ring the Gazette on 0191 5166127.