19th Century swimming club trophy to be preserved in South Shields Museum after appeal

A 19th Century South Shields Swimming Club trophy is to be preserved as a part of the town’s history.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 11:45 am

The Victorian swimming trophy has been donated to South Shields Museum and Art Gallery following an appeal from its former owner David Rae, who found the item in his shed over 100 years later.

David came across the 1800s engraved silver trophy when he moved into his old house in Blaydon 35 years ago.

He had been trying to track down the relatives of the cup’s owner when he reached out to the Gazette earlier this year.

David Rae (left) and Adam Bell from South Shields Museum with the 19th century South Shields Swimming Club trophy

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South Shields Museum have now added the item into their collections to be displayed in future exhibitions and plan to research the story behind it.

George Benson, who was awarded the cup on July 21, 1875 for his success in the ‘open race’, was from Newcastle and a member of a local swimming club.

The original minute book for the South Shields Swimming Club from 1875 can be viewed at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, and newspaper clippings from the time state that for coming first in the race, Mr Benson was given the choice of receiving £5 in money or the silver cup.

“The cup was very nearly lost and I wanted to try to preserve a bit of history from the area,” said David

The 19th century Swimming Club trophy which has been donated to South Shields Museum.

“I was over the moon that the museum reached out and that it has finally got a nice resting place, rather than sitting in my drawer.

“It would be nice to come and see it on display in the museum.”

Adam Bell, of South Shields Museum, said: “The swimming club had a long history and association with South Shields, so it's nice that it has come back and is going to be part of the town’s history once again.

“Here, this little bit of history can be preserved for the future, and we will record any of the history that we find out when we're doing the research.”

David Rae with the 19th century Swimming Club trophy which has been donated to South Shields Museum.

He added: “I hope we manage to find out something about George Benson, and there's no doubt that if we have a sporting exhibition in future, this lovely little cup with have a starring role in the exhibition.”

The 19th century Swimming Club trophy which has been donated to South Shields Museum.
David Rae (left) and Adam Bell with the 19th century Swimming Club trophy which has been donated to South Shields Museum.