One of the few surviving photographs – taken by the County Down Spectator at the 1966 Gala – that features all the cups awarded for swimming. From left: W. R. Rowley (Breaststroke Cup); W. D. McKeown (Jamison Cup – Freestyle); R. H. Thompson (Jamison Cup – Freestyle, Connor House); R. A. Anderson (Diving Cup); D. Eadie (House Shield); and R. Whyte (Sir Walter Smiles Cup for top swimmer at the Gala, Backstroke Cup and Butterfly Cup).
For almost half a century, beginning in the late 1940s, Bangor Grammar School staged an annual swimming gala, initially at Pickie Pool and then at the Bangor Castle Leisure Centre, with a shiny array of trophies being presented to the winners in a number of swimming disciplines.
Now, some two decades after what we believe was the final gala, Bangor Grammarians are assisting School Archivist Barry Greenaway in his endeavours to establish the present whereabouts of a number of those trophies.
Sad to say, just one, the Diving Cup, is held in the School Archive, while no fewer than seven other trophies, some around 70 years of age, have seemingly vanished without trace. The trophies in question all feature in the accompanying pictures, including enlargements, and are as follows:
• The Sir Walter Smiles Cup, which was awarded to the best all-round swimmer at the Gala
• The Inter-House Shield, which was presented to the School by the Old Boys’ Association
• The Breaststroke Cup, which was presented to the School in 1963 by Bertie Styles (a past joint-winner of the Sir Walter Smiles Cup)
• The Jamison Cup – Freestyle
• The Jamison Cup – Freestyle (Connor House)
• The Backstroke Cup
• The Butterfly Cup
Research by Terence Bowman, editor of The Grammarian, who is hoping to include an article in the 2017 edition about the (hopefully successful!) search for the cups, shows there were gala reports in the County Down Spectator as far back as the late 1940s, while the in-house Gryphon magazine includes a photograph of the cup being presented to Graeme Beggs in 1994, while further winners are identified up to 1997.
Ryan Smith, who won the Sir Walter Smiles Cup that year and returned it to the school as it was required for engraving, believes there was at least one further gala before the turn of the Millennium.
Terence reckons that because the galas came to an end (to be replaced by BGS involvement in inter-school competitions) there was never any clear instruction for the final winners of the assorted trophies to return them. He would be very keen to hear from anyone still in possession of any or all of the missing trophies – and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him on (028) 4372 3241. Even securing good quality pictures of the cups would be a major step forward.
Grammarians who read this story on the website or on our Facebook page are urged to circulate it among their friends and classmates; it’s just possible the swimming trophies may have been gathering dust somewhere, unloved and unwanted, for the past two decades, but before too long they could have pride of place in the new display cabinets at the school’s Gransha Road campus.