BATTERSEA BRIDGE: Scene of a dive by Tommy Burns on 19th November 1896. An earlier attempt on 17th November was foiled by the railway company.

On 19th November 1896, Tommy Burns dived from a moving train as it crossed Battersea Bridge – also known as Cremorne Bridge –¬†above the River Thames in London. The event was recorded by the Falkirk Herald on 25th November:

Burns, the diver, who a day or two ago was frustrated by railway officials in his design to jump from the top of a moving train into the Thames, but vowed a vow that he would perform the feat in spite of all opposition, has fulfilled his intention, selecting the same locality as before – the West London Extension Bridge.

The report outlined how Tommy and friends bought train tickets from Chelsea to Battersea, this time keeping as quiet as possible about their venture to prevent the railway company spoiling their plans again.

Nevertheless, a considerable crowd of spectators, who had got the tip, assembled on the river bank at Battersea to witness the event. When the train came steaming along, Burns was seen sitting on the roof of a carriage in the centre. Once on the bridge, he rose to his feet, and, taking a header over the parapet, fell gracefully into the river. On rising to the surface, he struck out for a boat lying some distance away, and was rowed ashore none the worse for his daring venture.

Reynolds’s Newspaper on 22nd November reported that Tommy had narrowly missed a barge which was passing under the bridge.