From ‘The Western Daily Mercury’- 29th September 1885
In September, 1885, a singular scene was presented on the Thames at Westminster, when the merits of a new life-saving dress were demonstrated before the Lord Mayor and a distinguished company, in addition to crowds of uninvited spectators. Six or eight persons, clad in costumes of ordinary appearance, and not one of them able to swim, were found ready for a plunge into deep water on the simple assurance that their garments would keep them from drowning, and they embarked in a small boat which rowed them into clear water. Then a tall figure of a woman, impressively cheerful in attire, rose suddenly in the boat, and, with a frantic wave of her sunshade, tumbled overboard. Two of her fellow passengers, who seemed to be naval and military officers, threw themselves into the water to rescue her, which, had she been sinking, they might easily have done, although they knew no more of swimming than herself, for, clothed as they were, they found it impossible to sink. A sedate clergyman seated in the bows, become so excited that he too lost his balance and splashed into the river, while all the others, one by one, timidly followed until all were seen floating comfortably about with their heads just clear of the surface. Colonel Clarke, R.E.; of the Inventions Exhibition, and others acquainted with the secret, explained that the clothing worn by the adventurers was made of a fabric in which fine threads of cork were interwoven with wool, silt, or other material, and, without presenting any conspicuous peculiarity of appearance, rendered the wearer perfectly buoyant. The inventor, Mr. Wm. Jackson, who was an exhibitor at South Kensington, was introduced, and was much applauded by the spectators for his successful experiments.