Favourite venue for testing
From the mid-19th century onwards, the Thames became a popular venue for testing and launching your lifesaving equipment to the world. Some of the more notable designs included an inflatable cloth for two paddlers by Captain Peter Alexander Halkett.
|'John and William Mudie' river trials. © NMM|
|Captain Wignhart and his life preserving raft. © NMM|
The initial trial took place from his home in Kew to Westminster Bridge where 'Old Father Thames seemed to have taken him under his special protection, wafting him over his waves like a duck'.
Another example was a sailing liferaft by Captain Wignhart, which he tested on the river at Westminster in 1858. Other inventions have included floating mattresses, lifebuoys, folding dinghies and cork life jackets.
By the beginning of the 20th century, builders such as Thornycroft and Thames Ironworks conducted sailing and righting trials on the river or alongside quays.
|Lifesaving Apparatus. © NMM|
Because London had become a centre for world commerce, International Exhibitions have been held here from the 1850s onwards. These have provided an ideal opportunity to promote new lifesaving inventions.