Atherton & Leigh ASC

History

 

Atherton Swimming Club was formed on the 10th October 1902, shortly after the opening of the new baths on Mayfield Street in September 1902 at a cost of £5275. The first President of the club was Mr. Thomas Smith J.P., who had been instrumental in the building of the baths. A Mr. O. Barnes was the treasurer and Mr. F. Brooks the secretary.

The opening of the baths was a grand affair with around 30 local dignitaries taking part. The official opening was performed by the Chairman of the Council, Mr. Thomas Smith, J.P., who had been instrumental in the building of the baths. At the ceremony, Mr. Smith was presented with a silver key that had on one side the Atherton Coat of Arms and on the other an inscription that read:

"Presented to Thomas Smith, Esq. J.P.,
Chairman of the Urban District of Atherton,
on the opening of the public baths,
September 20th 1902"

After opening the doors and an initial inspection, the dignitaries were entertained at the Town Hall with a meal and more speeches.

To celebrate the opening, a gala was arranged with over 100 competitors, 10 officials, a string band and over 500 spectators all crammed in!

The first recorded gala appeared in the Leigh Chronicle on 10th October 1902. 

The next big event to be staged was the first Annual Championships on 5th August 1903. It was not as large or as expensive as the opening gala, but this was the first to be promoted by Atherton S.C.

In 1904 Atherton entered the Manchester & District Water Polo League and by 1912 they had joined Bolton & District.

Atherton's first season in Water Polo saw victories over local rivals Leigh (5 - 2) and Tyldesley reserves (6 - 0). this match was watched by over 200 paying spectators!

One of the first stars of Atherton S.C. was a 4 year old named Tom Scott (see picture below), who had learnt to swim before he could walk. His reputation grew throughout the North West and he became known as the "Boy Champion of England".

No talk about the beginnings of Atherton can be made without the mention of Tyldesley, Leigh and Bolton Swimming Clubs who all helped with advice to the newly formed club. The advice they gave was about where to buy equipment and which Associations to join. They also sent experienced swimmers and teachers to give demonstrations of their skills.

The Centenary of the swimming Club was celebrated in October 2002. For details click here

In March 2005, after long discussions and protests, Atherton Baths were closed down and the Club moved to Tyldesley Baths, sharing with Tyldesley Swimming Club, until a brand new facility was built in the Leigh Sports Village. Work commenced on the Leigh Sports Village with the cutting of the first sod by Ruth Kelly, MP and Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh on Friday 11th March 2005.

The first part of the village to be completed was the Leigh East Rugby Union facility - changing room and pitches. This was closely followed by the Leigh 6th Form College which was opened in September 2007.

The Leigh Indoor Sports Centre, comprising of a 25m, 6 lane swimming pool, sports hall, gym and dance facilities was opened on 2nd January 2008 and the club moved in for their first training session on Thursday 3rd January 2008. Before the move, the club changed its name to Atherton & Leigh Amateur Swimming Club.