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Diving into The British Newspaper Archive

Harry Shipley and news clippingFlick through our family’s Victorian photo album and you’ll see plenty of stiff and starchy studio poses – ladies in their bonnets and shawls, gents with three piece suits and top hats. So it comes as a surprise to turn the page and find this fine fellow, clad only in a swimsuit and sporting a chest full of medals.

For years, it had been a mystery as to exactly who this swimmer was. The provenance of the photo album – and facial similarity to others in the Shipley family – suggested to me that he might be one of four Shipley brothers: Frederick, Harry, William or George. But if so, which one?

Winning those medals could have been a newsworthy event, I reckoned, so I turned to The British Newspaper Archive online in the hope of finding a trace. There are 14 medals pinned to his swimsuit, hopefully one might merit a mention in the local newspaper.