The West’s Past – The District Associations

Extracted from “100 Years of Scottish Swimming” – Peter Bilsborough (1988)

After World War I there were six Local Centres, but in 1925 Fife and Clackmannan Counties A.S.A. joined forces with Perth and District.
The five Centres were:
Northern Counties A.S.A: Orkney and Shetland Islands, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, Cromarty, Nairn, Elgin, Banff, Aberdeen, Kincardine.
Midland Counties A.SA: Forfar, Fife — north of the river Leven.
Perth and District A S.A.: Perth, Kinross, Inverness.
Western Counties A.S.A.: The Hebrides, Argyle Bute, Dumbarton, Stirling, Renfrew, Dumfries, Wigton, Clackmannan, Ayr, Lanark, Kirkcudbright.
Eastern Counties A S.A.: Roxburgh, Haddington, Edinburgh, Berwick, Peebles, Linlithgow, Selkirk, Fife — south of the river Leven.

Throughout the inter-war period all the Centres increased their memberships.
The work place also remained popular focal point. Despite the slump, it was a time of rising real incomes and falling hours of work and all kinds of working people became interested in swimming. Some of the clubs which they formed were: Dundee Postal, Hall Russell’s in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Tramways, Edinburgh Shop Assistants’ Union and Imperial Chemical Industries, Stevenston. Women also provided a steady stream of new clubs.
Before 1900 some existing clubs had Ladies’ sections but there was only one ladies’ club separately affiliated to any of the Local Centres. It was Naiads Ladies, Glasgow which was affiliated to the Western Counties A.S.A.
By 1930 there were 15 in the Western Counties A.S.A. and a total of ten in the remaining centres. There was no other governing body with such a heterogeneous membership. At the time few Scottish sports appealed to all classes and both sexes.
The Western Counties A.S.A. was the largest centre while the smallest was Perth and District.
In 1930 the former had 107 affiliated clubs while the latter had six.
The Western Counties A.S.A. had a considerable budget and so it was able to organise a range of swimming and water polo competitions for affiliated members.
By 1930 it was responsible for 19 individual district championships, a water polo exhibition challenge cup competition and three water polo leagues.
Each centre had its own unique calendar of events which provided clubs with an array of regular competition and a good source of income.
District swimming championships were held, managed and controlled on the same basis as national championships. Every year clubs were invited to bid for any district (or national) championship. Clubs making successful bids usually included the event as a feature in one of its galas. It was allowed to retain the competition fees and the gate money. In return it was required to pay the promoting association for a permit and for championship medals. It also had to meet the travelling and accommodation expenses of officials but as clubs had their own supplies of officials this was a negligible item of expenditure.
Clubs were usually successful if they bid a few pounds over the cost of the medals. Higher bids were usually made for 100 yards freestyle championships because they were particularly popular with spectators. Nevertheless, clubs invariably made a healthy surplus by taking the trouble to organise any district or national championship.
Ever mindful of the importance of creating and maintaining the interests of younger swimmers, the Local Centres organised a plethora of events for school children and other young people.
The Western Counties A.S.A. promoted three junior male and two junior female swimming championships and two under 18 water polo leagues.
One was for affiliated swimming clubs and the other was for affiliated youth groups.
All the local centres were successful in attracting young people from the various youth organisations into competitive swimming. In 1930 there were 35 youth organisations affiliated to the five Centres.
They ranged from Perth Boys’ Brigade and Arbroath Boy Scouts to Lanarkshire Girl Guides and Townhead Girls’ Life Brigade.

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