The Lover...Who Jumped...And Lived

A Memory of Bristol

Only a handful of people have survived the terrible fall from the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The most celebrated was young lover Sarah Ann Henley.

Sarah was a local girl from St Philip's in Bristol. In 1885 she was 22 and working in a Bristol factory when she was jilted by her boyfriend. The heartbroken girl made her way up from industrial St Philips to Clifton and the bridge and, in despair, she leapt from the parapet. She was saved by victorian women's fashion. This was the age of wide skirts and voluminous petticoats and as she tumbled through the air, this mass of material acted like a sort of parachute to break her fall. Instead of crashing like a stone she drifted in the wind and sailed across to a sticky landing in the deep mud of the riverside. The drama wasn't over. Her rescue from the mud was a difficult business but at last she was brought safely to firm ground and then to hospital where she was found, amazingly, to have suffered no more than a few light bruises but deep shock. Sarah's tale has a happy ending. She later married, lived to the ripe old age of 84 and was quite a celebrity.

A memory shared by Paul Townsend , on Dec 5th, 2009.

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