Lambeth, Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges in London
Lambeth Bridge (Photo: Leonard Bentley), Vauxhall Bridge and Chelsea Bridge.

Several newspapers reported Tommy Burns’s Derby Day escapade in 1896, among them the Sheffield Evening Telegraph which informed its readers:

Tommy Burns, the irrepressible diver, celebrated the Derby Day in characteristic fashion. At an early hour he made his way to Lambeth Bridge, and dived off the structure. Then he proceeded to Vauxhall and Chelsea Bridges, where he succeeded in accomplishing the same performance. Subsequently started off at a jog-trot to Epsom*, arriving fresh and well, and in time to see Persimmon win the Derby.

Persimmon, owned by the Prince of Wales, won seven of his nine races in his two-year racing career including the Derby, St Leger and Ascot Gold Cup. Unlike Tommy Burns, he was a reluctant traveller and on the eve of the Derby, he refused to get on the train to Epsom and had to be carried on board by a large group of volunteers.

* About 14 miles