From the Archives

Peter John Henry Elliott – Special guest at Roehampton Club in 1958

Looking back at the history of the Club’s swimming facilities, a film has been uncovered from 1958 featuring a British National Springboard Diving champion who took part in the London Olympics in 1948 when he was just 17 year’s old. He appeared at the Club ten years later demonstrating his diving skills and athleticism with his coach Sid Dalton who had taught Peter to dive from the age of 12.


Filmed in colour, the segment of the footage featuring the Club offers a rare glimpse of the outdoor swimming pool at this time confirming its popularity. The film was made by Pathe News with its typical jaunty voice-over reflecting post war social attitudes and sprinkled with humour. The commentator in the film refers to Peter’s achievement as British Springboard Champion at the age of 16 going on to win the National Springboard titles in 1949, 1950 and 1952.

So, what was so special about our guest visitor? The answer lies at the beginning of the film when you see Peter Elliott in a music studio recording his latest pop song and goes on to talk about his amazing career in showbusiness. His arrival at the Club in 1958 caused something of a sensation when he arrived with a chorus of showgirls from a nightclub in London where he was one of the star attractions. The film goes on to describe Peter’s colourful career which includes singing, acting, dancing, TV presenter, film director and the occasional role as a stuntman.

After qualifying for the Olympics, Peter was hot property and his prowess as a springboard diver was much sought after at Exhibitions and Aqua Shows. His early successes as a singer also took him into the world of showbusiness where he appeared in the following popular TV shows in the 1960’s and 70’s including The Avengers, Steptoe and Son, Randall & Hopkirk Deceased, Department S and The Champions.

In one episode of the cult TV series, The Avengers, Peter was asked to play the part of stunt double for actress Diana Rigg in a dramatic fight scene at the top of a seven-metre diving board resulting in a spectacular fall into water. He was also the resident ballad singer in the ATV music show Oh Boy and was known in the business as the Swimming Singer. He also appeared on the West End Stage in the American musicals Wish you Were Here and Guys and Dolls. In the early 1970’s, Peter emigrated to South Africa where he continued his career in showbusiness with further recognition of his work in film and theatre. During the London Olympics in 2012, Peter appeared in the newspapers alongside Tom Daly who had just achieved a bronze medal in the diving event. The headline in the papers announced that it was Peter who was the first teenage sensation in the world of Springboard Diving and not Tom Daley.

In the same year as the newspaper article, Peter was the subject of an excellent blog written by Heather Geluk  The article provides a very personal tribute to someone Heather had met through her flat mate who happened to be Peter’s daughter Laura who in turn had followed in her father’s footsteps making a name for herself in the music industry as DJ Lora. Heather talks warmly about her first meeting with Peter and goes on to describe his emotional experience as the youngest British competitor in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics as he walked around Wembley Stadium in 1948.

While writing this article, Laura Elliott has been in touch to confirm that her father passed away in December 2016 but wanted us to know that he had fond memories of his time at Roehampton Club.

Steve Riedlinger | Club Archivist