Joseph (Joey) Nuttall, 1869-1942 - ‘The Stalybridge Lightening Merman’
Bread Riots, 1863
Civil unrest in Stalybridge: 1812-The Luddites attack, 1842-’Plug’
Riots & the General Strike, 1863-Bread Riots, 1867-Murphy Riots.
By the winter of 1862/3 there were 7,000 operatives unemployed in
the town due to the American Civil War (Cotton Famine, 1862-66).
Stalybridge Jubilee, 1857-1907
The Protestant Work Ethic is a theoretical concept which suggests that "work will set
you free", that "labour liberates“ ("Arbeit macht frei" ).
In 1857 Stalybridge adopted the motto, Absque Labore Nihil, which boldly states to mill
worker operatives that ‘Without Labour, Nothing’.
Robert Platt, a local mill owner and philanthropist, provided the baths as
a ‘gift’ to the town at a cost of £7,000 with an annual sum of £100 to be
paid ‘in aid of their maintenance’.
A typical gala would have handicap races for club members only and invitation races open to anyone (both
amateur and professional). All races would have prizes in the form of medals/trophies and some would have
financial rewards. A exhibition of ornamental swimming and/or a game of water polo would usually end the
entertainment provided at the gala. Baths, private or public saw the gala as a useful means of income
Tyldesley Baths Swimming Gala, c1890
Aquatic entertainment s in swimming baths developed from the need for
swimming instructors/professors to earn a good living. The provision of
ornamental and scientific exhibitions of swimming ensured a prosperous living
for such professors and their families.
Joseph (Joey) Nuttall: Amateur Swimmer, 1881-1888.
Won his first competitive race aged 12 in 1881 and his last aged 19 in 1888.
The Ulph Cup
On Monday, October 08,
1888 Joey’s amateur career
came to an ignominious
end at the 220 Yards
Amateur Championship
race at Lambeth Baths.
Source: Stalybridge Reporter, The 220
Yards Swimming Championship,
Saturday, October 13, 1888, Col. 7, 5.
Joseph (Joey) Nuttall:
Professional Swimmer,
Joey won his first
professional race
with ease in 1888 –
he was a feared
opponent throughout
the world.
In 1904 he raced in
the USA and won a
gold medal (inset) to
the value of $450.
Joey Nuttall appeared on the aquatic entertainment circuit whilst still
speed swimming for prize money and wagers.
In 1894 Joey was appearing for the season (Easter to September) at the
Blackpool Tower with ‘an Exhibition of Fast Swimming’.
As a professional
swimmer Joey plied his
trade throughout the
country as a ‘fast
swimmer’ in open and
closed water.
He had established 19
world records indoors
from 1888-1902 and a
further 10 world
records from 1890-1893
in open waters.
Coach: Alfred Ferrand
Joseph Nuttall, Champion Swimmer of the World, is buried in
Layton Cemetery in an unmarked grave. His final resting place
is recorded simply as FF399.

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