Picture Past: June 14, 1968 – ‘World champion diver’ leaps 100ft into water at Birnbeck
PUBLISHED: 16:03 16 June 2018
Plans to redevelop Dolphin Square made front page news 50 years ago this week – how times change.
Weston-super-Mare Borough Council had blocked plans for an open air café but the Weston Mercury and Somerset Herald reported how members were having second thoughts on the ‘idea of having tables and chairs under gay umbrellas in a continental café style’
One supporter of the idea said if it worked for St Mark’s Square in Venice, it could work in Weston. Whether Venetians have ever been inspired by Weston is less clear.
* There were happy scenes as a couple flew from California to Weston so they could get married in the town. American Saeed Rahnema wed Sheila Dawn Thomas at Clarence Park Baptist Church. While her family heralded from Coventry, Sheila had lived in Weston ‘for some time’ when younger.
* Five bombs which were dropped on Sand Bay but never exploded were discovered. However, whereas nowadays such a find would have probably yielded online stories, videos, Tweets and much more, the Herald kept it simply to just 45 words in print to explain they were safely blown up.
* A new headquarters for the Royal British Legion opened in Weston’s Orchard Street. Chairman Mr Wally Ashman said: “This is what we have been looking forward to for years. I did not think I would live to see it,”
* A celebration was held in Hutton as St Mary’s Church marked its 650th anniversary with a flower festival.
* Weston’s Conservative Party was accused of ‘arrogance’, ‘hogging’ all the key appointments and meeting in private to make decisions.
The claims were made by Weston’s Labour Party at a highly-charged borough council meeting.
* The Mercury’s Looking Back feature reported on one daredevil act which went somewhat awry 100 years before.
In June 1868, a man – who claimed to be the ‘world’s champion diver’ – said he could dive from a platform 60ft above Birnbeck Pier into the water below – a fall of some 100ft.
The Mercury reported: “Thousands of people flocked by train to see the feat accomplished but it was reported the ‘champion’, apparently under the influence of liquor, fell headlong rather than dived, from the platform and hit the sea on his side ‘with an almighty crash’.
The unconscious and seriously injured diver was rescued by boatmen.