Starting in the late 18th century, The Royal Humane Society had in Hyde Park a “Receiving House.” When people fell—or threw themselves—into the Serpentine (and not many people at the time could swim), they were brought here to be resuscitated.
“More than 200,000 persons annually bathe in the Serpentine river, while an equal number visit it during the skating season in severe winters. [Here's an ice rescue] Since the year 1792, more than 600 cases have been brought to that house, not noticing many minor ones, and the treatment adopted has been successful in restoring life, in more than 500 of these cases, the remaineder having been taken out of the Serpentine, under hopeless circumstances, from the length of time the body had been immersed.”
You can read more about the Receiving House in this article from the Illustrated London News of August 1844, which includes detailed illustrations.
The Receiving House was still in existence in the 20th century. Due, apparently, to WWII damage, it was demolished in 1954. The boat house, however, remains. Scroll down this page for a color illustration of the receiving house in later years.
Illustrations above left and below right are from Thomas Smith's book. Please click on them to enlarge.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.