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Cardiff’s Francis Drake and London’s Tower Bridge (1900) | John F. Wake

Francis Drake, from Cardiff, was described as a wandering lunatic by a certain court official. His behaviour was indeed strange.

Police on London’s Tower Bridge saw Francis Drake, then in his thirties, take off his coat and clothes, and then climb over the parapet. He hung there by his arms some way above the murky and dark waters of the River Thames. It was Midnight and the gas lights were of not much use. One constable rushed forward and held onto Drake. Struggling, he was able to pull him over the parapet back to safety.

Drake tried to escape shouting, ‘Let me go, my wife and five children are down there. I can hear them calling to me’.

He was taken to a local infirmary and eventually before a court with the heinous crime of ‘Attempting to Commit Suicide’.

The court, though, was at the centre of a debate on which police area covered Tower Bridge at the point at which Francis Drake climbed over.

Should he have been taken to Whitechapel via their local police or to another infirmary in the City of London police area?

Which police station should Drake have been taken to? Photo credit: Riley Pitzen

A Doctor said he examined Francis Drake and found he was not insane. This must have caused a few eyebrows to raise.

The magistrates may have thought the whole thing tiresome and wanted to see the whole business finished with. One said, ‘How about giving him money and sending him home to Cardiff?’ All agreed. And that is what they did!

What happened to Francis Drake, the wandering lunatic, after that is not known.

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Cardiff’s Francis Drake and London’s Tower Bridge (1900) | John F. Wake

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