Monday, October 29, 2012

Saving Lives in Hyde Park

Monday, October 29, 2012

Loretta reports:

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.

According to Thomas Smith’s (of Mary-le-bone) Historical Recollections of Hyde Park, 1836:

“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.

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