Forgotten Thames Champions by Caitlin Davies

By jen kavanagh, senior curator of contemporary history on 9 Sep 2015

Three years ago, when I started researching Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames, I thought it would be quite a short book. After all, how many people would want to swim in the Thames?

Margaret White – training in Leigh swimming pool, 1961 (Courtesy of Margaret White-Wrixon)

But I soon realised that bathing in London’s great waterway used to be the norm, that river racing reached its peak in Victorian times and that now, with the Thames the cleanest in living memory, there has been a real resurgence in ‘wild swimming’.

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Calling all Thames swimmers!

By jen kavanagh, senior curator of contemporary history on 5 May 2015

Swimwear from 1963

When you cross a bridge over the magnificent Thames, or hop on a boat and sail past London’s Docks, has it ever crossed your mind that the city’s famous river would make a nice spot for a swim? It certainly hadn’t mine, until I met Caitlin Davies earlier this year and learned all about the amazing history of wild swimming in the River Thames. For centuries the river has been a place for bathing, and in recent years has become a hot spot for outdoor swimming once again. Read the full postRead the full post

Distant voices

By other museum staff on 4 Apr 2012

Following Hilary Young’s blog post Listening for a change last week, author Harriet Salisbury talks about the discoveries she made while delving into the Museum of London’s oral history collections for her new book, The War on our Doorstep. I am not an oral historian – or even a historian. Before I began researching material for The War on our Doorstep, my experience of oral history was limited to recording a few interviews in my student days. So for me, the Museum of London’s vast collection of tapes was a big step into the unknown. Luckily, in the case of the Port & River collection, there […]