River and promenade, Bedford c.1910 [Z1306/9]
Saturday 11th September 1915: An interesting life-saving display was given on the River Ouse in Bedford this afternoon, watched by crowds along the Embankment and the Mill Meadow bank. A demonstration of “Boddy” life-jackets and waistcoats was given by a representative of the firm, followed by a display of trick swimming and diving by Miss E. Finney. A soldier volunteered to test out a life-jacket and emerged safely from the water to loud cheers from the crowd. Whereas life-jackets were previously made using cork these new models are made of kapok, a vegetable fibre from the seed pods of the kapok tree, and reindeer hair. Kapok has five times the buoyancy of cork making it possible to reduce the bulk of live-saving appliances.
Models demonstrated included the No.1 jacket as supplied to the Lusitania, a necessity for ocean travel which will allow a person thrown into the water to float even if unconscious; the Naval waistcoat, less bulky than the No.1 but with the same properties; the khaki waistcoat can be worn almost invisibly under a coat, but will still support even the heaviest person. A swimming vest is also available which allows an adult non-swimmer to enter water safely and learn to swim. “Boddy” life-jackets are available from Boots the Chemists at 19, Silver Street, Bedford.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 17th September 1915