Captain Matthew Webb
Captain Matthew Webb, the first man to successfully swim the English Channel unaided, in August 1875. With his life-saving medals
Matthew Webb 1875: The first man to swim the Channel 24/8/1875. Dived in from the Admiralty Pier and landed near Calais after 21 hours 45 minutes. Had earlier failed in an attempt on 12/8/1875. Born at Dawley, Shrops. On 19/1/1848 he was killed attempting to swim Niagara Falls in 1883.
On his swim he was accompanied by the Dover lugger ‘Ann’ piloted by George Toms and crewed by Dodd, Bowles, Jell, Gates, Decent and Stanley. Also on board were Webb’s cousin G.H. Ward, Charles Baker the diver and pacemaker, and local journalists Bavington Jones, Warman, Payne and Wilkinson (also representing nationals) plus Bell, an artist for the Illustrated London News.
Webb was one of 12 children of Thomas and Sarah Webb. His father was a Doctor and the family moved to Coalbrookdale after Matthews’s birth. He served a 3 year apprenticeship as a seaman with Rathbone Bros. of Liverpool and became a national hero after diving into the sea mid-Atlantic to rescue a man overboard whilst second mate on Cunards ‘Russia’, travelling New York to Liverpool.
Married at London 27/4/1880 to Madelaine Kate Chaddock. Two children, Matthew jnr. and Helen.