Coleman, Miss Eva
Born Eva Maud Archer in 1899 in Liverpool, to Benjamin Archer, a policeman originally from Deptford in London, and Margaret Coop. Eva married Percy George Coleman, upholsterer, at Edge Hill, Liverpool, in 1919. Percy had been born in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1895 but had grown up in London. He had Coleman relatives from Luton living in Toxteth Park, Liverpool. Both gave their residence as 50 Cotswold St., where her mother was still living when Eva did her Channel attempt in 1933
A daughter, Edna May, was born in Liverpool in 1920 but shortly afterwards they moved to Southend-on-Sea, Essex (before 1926 – Eva later claimed she hadn’t learnt to swim until that year, in Southend). Eva honed her swimming skills at Southend, in the North Sea and Thames Estuary, trained by her husband.
Her first Channel attempt was to be in 1930 but a tragedy prevented her making the attempt. As well as her husband, she employed the services of fellow-Southender and successful Channel swimmer, Norman Derham. She was aiming for a date in August. In preparation, in July 1930 she broke the record for swimming across the Thames estuary; two days later her husband was commuting from his job in London and fatally crashed his motor bike and died in Southend Hospital on 31/7/1930
Eva now needed to work and so got a job as a ‘nippy’ waitress for Lyons in London. Edna carried on schooling in Southend. A year or two later Eva became a cashier for a hotel on the Strand. She also carried on her Channel attempts as the prize money would have been useful. She swam in the school holidays so she could take Edna down to Dover with her.
She made two failed Channel attempts on 3 August 1932 and 3 September 1933 and then gave up her swimming career
In the 1939 War Register both Eva and Edna are still living together in Southend, both working as clerks. The register is annotated that Edna later married a Mr. Greatorex – Edna married Norman Greatorex at Derby in 1943 and died in Staffordshire in 1989. The fate of Eva is not known.
Channel Swimmers. Three men and four women have started training for attempts to swim the Channel. Mr. Norman Derham, a Southend man, who swam the Channel in 1926, is coaching Mrs Eva Coleman, who trains with her ten-year-old daughter.
06 June 1930 – Chelmsford Chronicle
Miss Eva Coleman who is 28 years of age, and lives at Southend, will attempt to swim the English Channel next month. “Four years ago I could hardly swim a stroke” she stated. “There were a lot of people swimming the Channel at the time, so I thought I would like to have a shot”
28 July 1930 – Lancashire Evening Post
Death of Trainer of Woman Aspirant for Channel Swim. Mr. P T. Coleman, aged 30 of Deepdene, Riviera Drive, Southend, husband of Mrs. Eva Coleman, who broke the record for swimming the Thames estuary on Saturday, died in hospital at Southend today from injuries received when his motor cycle and a motor car collided at Prittlewell Hill last night as he was returning from his work in London. Mr Coleman had been training his wife for her attempt to swim the Channel
31 July 1930 – Portsmouth Evening News
CHANNEL SWIM KENSINGTON GIRL TRAINING FOR HER THIRD EFFORT A Liverpool girl, who is employed as cashier in a London hotel, is to make her third attempt to swim the Channel from France to England this summer. She is Miss Eva Coleman, and her mother resides in Kensington, Liverpool
14 June 1933 – Liverpool Echo