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06 April 2020

As part of a new series, discover the landmarks that have mapped the history of our club.

In a new series, Swinton Lions club director Steve Wild guides us on a virtual tour of the local area to places that have played an integral part in the history of the club.

Part 2 – Initial Games

Having been in established in late 1866, the Swinton club soon appointed the Bull’s Head as its initial headquarters (and not the White Lion as is commonly believed).

Inaugural games were played amongst the club’s own membership to begin with, and it wasn’t until 2nd January 1869 that a game was played against an ‘outside’ organisation. The opponents on that occasion were the Number 1 Company of the 46th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (also from Swinton).

The exact nature of these matches is difficult to determine, as the Rugby Football Union would not be formed until 1871, and therefore no nationally recognised ‘rugby’ rules yet existed. However, the early match reports which appeared in the Parish Magazine suggest that the Swinton club had already adopted a ‘rugby-type’ game.

These matches against the local ‘volunteers’ became an annual event, and took place on a field adjoining Burying Lane (now Station Road). The exact location of the field cannot be known for certain, but two main possibilities present themselves.

One field which 20 years later later made way for the new railway line, and another which once lay in the current Buchanan Street area.  Note also that the current St Peters Church opened in 1869, replacing a smaller 1791 Chapel.

Note: Please follow current government guidelines around social distancing and leaving your home. 

The Bull’s Head, Swinton, first established around 1688 (the current building being built in 1826), and the first headquarters of Swinton Rugby Club (1866 to about 1873).


The location of Swinton’s first ground? Most likely one of the fields beneath the word “Burying” alongside Burying Lane (now Station Road).


The view today, courtesy of Google Earth. Did Swinton’s first field get lost to the railway “cut” dug in the 1880s, or does it lie beneath Buchanan Street (the first street west of Station Road)?


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