Film ID: NEFA 21501 SEAHAM BATHING BELLES 1963 Visitor TabsDescription An amateur film made by Maurice Clyde of members of the Seaham Harbour Swimming Club, including the filmmakers mother, taking an early morning dip on the 7th June 1963. Title: Seaham Bathing Belles The film opens with a view of Seaham Harbour at dawn. A small fishing boat comes into the harbour with two men on board. A view of the sheltered harbour from the boat. The film cuts to a woman at the top of a set of concrete steps. Several men and women come out of a small hut onto the harbour quayside. A number of older women in bathing suits walk past, some waving at the camera. They climb down a set of metal steps and into the harbour. A man and women dive into and swim around in the water. A number of women attempt to do a synchronised routine. The group climb out of the water and walk towards the small hut on the quayside. Now dressed they make their way away from the harbour up the set of steps seen earlier. The film ends with a views of the harbour at low tide and a sandy beach with waves splashing on the sand. Title: The End Context A wild swim off the East Durham coast Making a splash with the breakfast club regulars of the Seaham Harbour Amateur Swimming Club. Early morning on the ‘Costa del Coal’ in East Durham. One or two fishermen head out to sea. Time for a few hardy souls from the Seaham Harbour Amateur Swimming Club to brave a freezing North Sea for a splash before sun-up. The ‘bathing belles’ (and one man) include the filmmaker Maurice Clyde’s mother. This bracing dip possibly continues an old club tradition, the first official swim of the season known as the May morning swim. Seaham Harbour’s swimming club was founded in 1880 with a membership of 60. Women were not admitted until the 1920s. In its early decades, youngsters were encouraged to fork out the annual fee of one shilling (5 pence) for swimming lessons, which involved being coaxed off the seaweed-clad ledge of the harbour’s ‘Knuckle End’ with a rope and belt tied around their waist. Sink or swim. As a child in the 1920s, former coal miner George Hitchin remembers having to borrow a too-big pair of pit-hoggers (shorts worn by miners underground) to swim under the watchful eye of the dock policeman. Miners’ children were too poor to afford swimsuits and usually swam in the raw. The club was finally disbanded in 1982. On leaving school aged 15, the amateur filmmaker Maurice Clyde started an engineering apprenticeship with William Doxford and Sons, inspired by his desire to travel the world on ships built on Wearside. After a serious motorcycle accident, he returned to an apprenticeship in Doxford’s drawing office in 1960, working there until the firm closed in 1989. Clyde began to make films in 1963 after purchasing a Eumig 8mm cine camera on holiday in Germany. One of his passion projects was a documentary, completed by 1965, on the design and building of the Doxford 'J' Engine (on which he worked) and the construction and launch of the super tanker North Sands, jointly funded with the Laing and Thompson shipyard.