Tommy Burns dived from Walton Arches into the Mersey twice in October 1891, 18 months before this photo was taken. Photo: Mr Salty Dog, flickr

In 1891, Tommy Burns twice dived off the new Walton Arches over the Mersey near Warrington.

His first dive on 20th October was recorded in the Cheshire Observer which stated:

On Tuesday the celebrated Tommy Burns, in the presence of a great crowd, dived from the top of the girders of the new bridge across the Mersey at Walton arches. He remained under water a few seconds, and when his head reappeared shouts of applause broke the almost death-like silence that prevailed. He rose to the surface with perfect composure, and then gave an exhibition of his swimming powers. The height dived was fully sixty feet and the depth of water about twenty feet.

The York Herald on 24th October gave more detail about the dive:

After ascending the girders by a ladder he poised himself on the dizzy height for a moment or two, and in reply to the shouts from below that all was clear, he shouted: ‘All right; I’m off.’ With that he dived in a graceful manner, and kept his position until within a few feet of the water, when he turned slightly over.

Tommy returned on 31st October for a repeat performance, this time – acccording to the Cheshire Observer – into much shallower water:

On this occasion he wore a suit of ordinary clothing and dived from the level of the bridge into four feet of water. After his dive he undressed himself in the water. The event was witnessed by 2,000 people who gave the diving hero a grand reception.

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