Hundreds of spectators gathered in Stockton on 20th January 1890 to see Tommy Burns dive off Victoria Bridge into the River Tees.

Victoria Bridge Stockton
Victoria Bridge which opened in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

The event was covered by the North-Eastern Daily Gazette which reported that the steamer Spray arrived at the scene with passengers from Middlesborough on board.

Tommy, sporting a scarlet bathing suit and accompanied by Mr Cuthbert-Gardner of the Star Music Hall, arrived in a cab. He climbed to the parapet of the bridge and dived about 24 feet into the water.

The paper reported that Tommy swam downstream ‘with a hand-over-head stroke’ but it was so cold that he scrambled on to a boat at Rudd’s Wharf.

The Northern Echo also carried a report, mentioning that Tommy was appearing at the Star Theatre and after his dive from the central arch of the bridge, he swam to the foot of Bishop Street ‘where the theatre is situated’.