Volunteer Welfare History


Water Polo in Bridport
Water Polo was first formed in Bridport in 1898 following a huge gathering of local water sports enthusiasts of the day packed into Bridport Town Hall to witness the formation of the Bridport Water Polo and Swimming Club.

Within two hours of that evening, which included many familiar local family names such as Trevett, Whetham, Hutchins and Matterface, the foundations were laid for a century of successful leisure swimming and water polo.

The following year, Bridport joined the Dorset League, playing Weymouth, Dorchester and Yeovil, with its 'home turf' set out in the aptly named 'Polo Basin' in the harbour at West Bay, an area still referred to by locals to this day.

Details of the club in its early years are a little sketchy, but the sport gathered momentum between the word wars when Bridport played in the Dorset League supplemented by various touring fixtures during the July and August period, with the annual highlight being the club's swimming regatta.

Water Polo at West Bay
September 3rd, 1939
Leslie Rowsell, Jimmy Gibbs, Raymond Ackerman, Ken Smith,
Joe Sims, John Snook, John Hanger, Dick Kendall,
Eddie Stickland, Don Balson, Ron Hayball, Wilf Gill

Dublin University is an example of one such touring team which, fielding an Irish International, visited the basin in 1930.

With regular crowds of several hundred and up to an estimated 1500 spectators at its peak, the sport has always been popular for locals and tourists alike.

This successful format continued until the unfortunate demise of the Dorset League at the end of the 1973 season when Bridport finished runners up - due to the general lack of interest in playing in coastal open water locations. Works to the river basin completed the demise in the early 1980's.

Leaving the many and varied - and often murky tales of the River Basin behind, local water polo enthusiasts found a new home for the sport in 1994 with the opening of the new swimming pool in Bridport. The club subsequently joined forces with the newly formed Bridport Barracudas Swimming Club and have swum there ever since on Monday evenings.

Water Polo at West Bay
?,Ernie Hix, Mike Stoodley, Rex Trevett, ?, Rob Malpas,

Open Water - Water Polo continued intermittently with an annual invite to the RNLI week, playing a friendly match off the Cobb, whilst proceeding at West Bay were interupted until the new outer harbour at West Bay was completed. Since then the club has continued with a series of summer friendly matches with crowds of up to 400 people watching during July and August.

A new Dorset League forming in 2005 resulted in a huge boost to the fortunes of the sport in the town and with Bridport Leisure Centre starting their own sessions about the same time, the people of Bridport and surrounding areas have never had so many opportunities, with the sport thriving at all ages.




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