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The memorial plaque to Edmund Emery.


Although his memorial plaque remembers him as "Edmund Emery", the brave young man who leapt into the Thames to rescue a child on the 31st of July 1874 was, infact, Charles Edward Emery (1850 - 1874).

His plaque is inscribed, "Edmund Emery, of 272 King's Road, Chelsea . Leapt From A Thames Steamboat To REscue A Child And Was Drowned. July 31 1874."


The Reading Mercury featured a detailed account of the tragedy on the 8th of August 1874:-

"On Friday afternoon a very melancholy accident happened on the Thames, off Mill-bank, by which Mr. Charles Edward Emery, aged 22, of 272, King's-road, Chelsea, lost his life.

The deceased was a passenger on one of the Citizen steamers, and saw a little child fall from the embankment into the water.

Without a moment's hesitation he sprang over the bulwark into the water and swam towards the drowning child.

He had, however, miscalculated his powers as a swimmer, for the tide, bore him resistlessly on, turned him over and over, and carried him beneath the surface, to the horror of the spectators.

In the meantime a second person on the steamer (said to be James Lovett, one of the crew) jumped into the water and rescued the child, who appeared to be but little the worse for the immersion.

The body of Mr. Emery was recovered about three hours afterwards and conveyed to the dead-house, where it was identified on Saturday.

It is stated that the deceased, who was an artist, and engaged on the Illustrated London News, was a son of Mr. Edward Emery, of Harbourne, near Birmingham."


Reynold's Weekly Newspaper went into a bit more detail, and gave the results of the inquest into his death, in its edition of the 9th of August 1874. It was possibly the name used in this article that led to the wrong name appearing on the plaque in Postman's Park:-

"Mr. Bedford held an inquest at the board room, Mount-street, Grosvenor-square, on the body A Mr. Edward Emery, aged twenty one, of 272, King's-road, Chelsea, who lost his life in attempting to save that of a child.

The evidence showed that the child was fishing or playing on the Embarkment near Millbank, when he lost his balance and fell into the water.

The deceased, who was on a steamer passing at the time, instantly jumpred into the water to rescue him, but was carried away by the tide and drowned.

A police constable saw the occurrence, but he neglected to report it to his unperiors at the station.

Mr Levett, of 2, Cheyne-walk, Chelsea, happened to be on the Embankment, and, holding on by the iron railings, rescued the child.

The body of the deceased was recoverod about eight the same evening.

The jury returned a verdict, "That the deceased was accidently drowned while attempting to save the life of a fellow.erentnre."

They also expressed an opinion that the police on duty ought to have communicated with the station inspector."


Given the fact that, according to various newspaper reprts Charles Edward Emery had worked as an artist for The Illustrated London News, one would have expected some form of tribute to have been paid in its pages.

The paper gave little coverage to the tragedy in the immediate aftermath. One brief article appeared in its edition of the 8th of August 1874:-

"An inquiry was held, on Monday, into the circumstances attending the death of Mr. Charles Edward Emery, aged twenty-three, an artist on the Illustrated London News.

The deceased, whilst travelling on a Citizen steam-boat on the Thames on Friday week, jumped into the water to endeavour to save a boy who had fallen intothe river from the Embankment, but was swept away by a swift tide and drowned.

The jury returned a verdict "That the deceased was accidentally drowned while attempting to save the life of a fellow-creature."

The child was rescued."


The newspaper did go into a little more detail about their much lamented artist in its issue of the next week, 15th of August 1874:-

"The lamented death of Mr. Charles Emery, a young artist much esteemed by his acquaintances, was mentioned last week.

He threw himself into the Thames, from a steam-boat near the Pimlico pier, to save the life of a child that was drowning.

Mr. Emery was a good swimmer, and would probably have done with safety what he so nobly sought to do. But it is believed that he struck his head against something in the water, and so lost power to contend with the tide, then running very high. He was seen to emerge and make two or three uncertain strokes, after which be sank; but the child was saved, being taken up by a boat.

Mr. Emery was scarcely twenty-three years of age.

He was unmarried, but supported an invalid father, and gave some aid to others of his family, by his earnings as an artist.

It is proposed by several friends to raise a subscription for the benefit of those whom this good son so dutifully cared for. An account has been opened at the Union Bank, where payments may be made."