Maud Wensley, courtesy of David Palmer-Davies
Maud was born on the 31st January, 1892 to John and Tirzah. The family of two boys and two girls lived at 109 Lower Audley Street and Maud's father worked in an iron foundry. By 1901 they had moved to Park Road and Tirzah was described as a confectioner and shopkeeper.
At the age of fourteen, in 1906, Maud won the Blackburn Swimming Championship for the first time - an event she later won many times. In September 1912 she entered the Morecambe Cross-Bay Swim and almost completed the set course of twelve miles in two hours twenty minutes but due to the strong tide she was carried past the landing point and taken out of bounds. Many of the other competitors had withdrawn from the swim or abandonned it because of the cold but Maud seemed quite well and not fatigued at the finish; she was awarded a souvenir prize and the trophy went to Mr. Henry Taylor whose time was two hours twenty four minutes. Maud entered the competition for the second time in September 1914 and won with a record time for ladies of two hours twenty one minutes which still stands.
At the census of 1911, the family still lived at 44, Park Road and Maud with her sister Eveline had a sweet shop on Lower Audley Street.
Maud married Fred Davies in January 1919 and they had two sons Fred Jnr. and William. In 1939, living at 6, Abbotsford Avenue, Fred was a train driver and William, an old boy of the Grammar School, an insurance clerk who volunteered in 1940 for the R.A.F. In 1943, there was an article in 'The Northern Daily Telegraph' which recorded that Flight Sergeant F. Davies, was the first pilot to land in Tripolitania. The article also mentioned his mother in the following terms, 'formerly Miss Maud Wensley, the well known Blackburn Swimmer who swam Morecambe Bay when a girl" which indicates that Maud's swimming endeavours still lingered in the public's imagination.
Maud died in July 1961 at the age of sixty nine.
The Blackburn Times, September 21st, 1912
The Blackburn Times, April 2nd,1943
The Northern Daily Telegraph, September 16th, 1912
Compiled by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer
Published January 2022
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