Research Document - Stuntmen on Hastings Pier Research

The bicycle dive must have been a favourite with audiences because it was in the repertoire of a succession of Hastings stunt divers throughout the early years of the 20th century: ‘Professors’ Davenport, Cyril, Gautier, and Merlon Austin.

Professor Davenport was one of several stunt divers who performed on Hastings Pier in Edwardian times. He was an adventurous young man who had spent several years at sea after running away from home. He then turned his attention to the stage where he performed in plays and learnt ornamental swimming feats. This became the foundation of his diving career, and he went to South America with the Ross Family Troupe of Swimmers. There he became a brilliant high diver and won several competitions. He returned to England as a professional diver and developed a repertoire of twenty different dives. His most thrilling feat was to dive when inside a sack that had been covered with paraffin and set on fire before he entered the water.

Hastings Pier Charity Volunteer

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