Gerald Bridgeman

Gerald Bridgeman

Gerald Bridgeman a few more memories
Mon, 12 Mar 2018, Serpentine Swimming Club

Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that I report our longest supporter of the club, Gerald Bridgeman, died on 15 February.  A memorial service for Gerald will be held at 2pm, 12th March, at St Paul's Church, 32a Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 8SH.  This follows a private funeral for close family in the morning.  Members of SSC who knew and remember Gerald are welcome to attend.

Gerald's father, Paul, joined the club in 1922. He had served as a Royal Navy officer in WW1. He later qualified as a doctor.  In 1930 he was fatally injured whilst cutting down a tree. The anecdote of Paul Bridgeman finding a body in the Serpentine, flinging it on his bicycle only to be pulled to the side by a police officer to whom he gave the explanation that he was taking it back to medical school for dissection is SSC lore. Gerald was born after his father's death. 

We first swam for the Bridgeman Race in 1928, with the family continuing the tradition of attending the event ever since. It had been a 55 yard race until 1953 when it became the 4 x 50 yard relay race beloved by every Hon. Handicapper since. This year’s fixture (2 June) will bring the Bridgeman race to 90 years of age.  

Gerald and his wife, Rosie, lived local to the park. He always appeared colourfully attired with a large medallion hanging from his neck. He appears, standing on a table, in a photo dated about 1935 presenting the winner with a cup. The table is the one we still have on which our sponsors lay out their prizes or cooks their newly baked cakes.  It is a wonder the table has survived with the club when for all these years we had no proper space of our own. 

Bridgeman is the Earls of Bradford family name.  Gerald was the grandson of the 5th Earl of Bradford.  The present Earl is the 7th. His son Alexander, Viscount Newport and the future 8th Earl of Bradford, came down for the race four years ago when Gerald was unable to attend.

Link to news story photo

Brian Thomas (with thanks to Mike Olizar for the much valued historic detail)

Thanks to Mike Harris for the collation of the recent photos.