Before the First World War, the Swimming Sports were very popular, and attracted hundreds of spectators, who lined the canal as afr as the marsh.
attractedStarting just before the First World War, but continuing in the inter-war years, the annual summer Swimming Sports proved very popular.
They were held at the canal wharf, and huge crowds of several hundred people came to enjoy the spectacle.
The adjacent photograph shows the Quarter-mile race. On the extreme left is Mr Percy Jessett, and wearing the fireman's helmet is the Rev Tom Gray. The stationmaster Mr Hunt is standing with a stick.
In the Quarter-mile race, swimmers dived off the starting board, and swam to Hungerford lock and back.
In the photograph of the Cigarette race, the four contestants can be seen "lighting up" in readiness for the "off". Each swimmer had
to swim the race whilst keeping a lighted cigarette in his mouth. It sounds an impossible task!