Daughter of the managing-owner of the Regent Cinema in Dover
Joan Beatrice Brunton born Herne Bay 8/8/1916, daughter of John Henry Brunton and Mabel Willan/ Beatrice Willan.
John had an illicit affair with his wife Mabel’s sister Beatrice, who gave birth to Joan in 1916 although Joan was registered as Mabels daughter (he married Beatrice in 1945 after Mabel’s death).
John was owner of Kingscliffe Hotel, Cliftonville, Margate from about 1913.
In 1923 he became projectionist and cameraman at the King’s Hall cinema in Dover and about 1924 John purchased the Regent cinema in Buckland, Dover and the family moved to River.
In 1929 he opened a ‘talkies’ cinema in Rainham and moved the family there
Between 1927 and 1929 Joan undertook a number of local long-distance swims, including Dover Pier to Deal Pier, Dover-Ramsgate and around the Goodwin Sands. She trained with Billy Kellingley intensely for a Channel attempt in 1928 but never made a start. She trained again in 1929 but again made no attempts. In 1929 John advertised in the newspaper that all presentations at the Regent cinema would include the showing of the Pathe newsreel on Joan’s Dover-Ramsgate swim
In 1939 she was a saleswoman in a ladies gown shop in London and motor ambulance driver for the Port of London.
In 1948 she married Frederick W Belsham in Dunmow, Essex.
She died in Bromley, Kent in 1969
Miss Joan Brunton is the little girl swimmer who astonished everybody by swimming from Dover to Deal (10 miles) in 2 hours and 51 minutes.
May 6—There is to be a massed attack by swimmers on the Channel this year, and already there is some activity in the various camps on this part of the coast. Most of the contestants to be first across will start from this side, which is generally considered to be the more difficult swim. The swimmers include E. H. Temme, Norman Derham, Miss Ivy Hawke. Miss “Laddie” Sharp, Mrs. Gill, E. Vierkotter (Germany), J. Helmy (Egypt), G. Michel (France) and C. Toth (U.S.A.) all of whom have already swum from France to England and are anxious to win the gold cup offered for the first competitor who succeeds in swimming from England to France. Other entrants include the American twins, Bernice and Phyllis Zitenfeld, who are due in England this month, Miss Beatrice Spears, the young Deal swimmer, and little Joan Brunton, the 11-year-old Dover girl. It is expected that Dr. Dorothy Logan and Miss Gleitze will also try their luck again.
Kingston Gleaner, Jamaica,May 29, 1929
SCHOOLGIRL SWIMS ROUND GOODWIN SANDS. Miss Joan Brunton, of River, near Dover, who hopes to make an attempt during school holidays to swim the Channel on August 8, her 12th birthday, performed a notable swimming feat. Last summer she swam from Dover to Deal Pier in record time; last month she swam round the most dangerous parts of the Goodwin Sands off Deal
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 19 July 1929