Given that what are fondly known as the Royals contained the largest man made expanse of water in the world, you’d think that the people who lived in and around the docks might have been proficient swimmers. But no.
Drowning was common in the 1800s and swimming lessons were as abstract a concept as employee health and safety training.
It was down to the kindness of others to try and help. Mr JG Elliott, Honorary Secretary of the London Swimming Club from 1869, offered free tuition to children who lived around the docklands of East London in the City of London Baths.
In recent times, The London Swimming Club has been revived, with strong links to London’s Royal Docks. Club members receive discounts on London Royal Docks Open Water Swimming sessions.