Bristol bungee jump: 'World first' footage uncovered

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Media captionBBC Inside Out reveals newly discovered footage of what is thought to be the world's first bungee jump from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol 35 years ago.

Footage of what is thought to be the world's first bungee jump, which took place in Bristol, has been uncovered.

The stunt, by members of Oxford's Dangerous Sports Club, took place from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1979.

First jumper David Kirke said the jump, inspired by a ritual carried out on Vanuatu in the South Pacific, had gone on to make many people "very happy".

The jumpers were later arrested. Bungee jumping from the 245ft (76m) bridge has since been banned under by-laws.

The footage has come to light after being discovered in a store of cans of 16mm film rushes featuring the activities of the Dangerous Sports Club.

Before the jump, the group assembled in a nearby hang-gliding garage to test the ropes, harnesses and buckles and get ready for the jump.

The night before the stunt, which took place on April Fool's Day, the group held a champagne-fuelled party in Clifton.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Since the jump in the 1970s, bungee jumping has become a worldwide craze
Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Bungee jumping was inspired by the land-diving ritual from Vanuatu

Mr Kirke said the bungee jump, from Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 150-year-old structure, was an "almost beatific moment".

"All sorts of sensory impressions, a klunk and then you are whooshing up again," he added.

"It has since made a lot of people who I will never meet happy and given them fun and they will have gone back home and said, 'mum, dad, I did this.'

"That is the real reward, the richness of it."

'Bounced back'

Simon Keeling, who was the second to make the leap, described how the moment of truth hit him when the group arrived at the bridge.

"Just as I was looking down over the side of the bridge I saw out of the corner of my eye that Dave was plummeting down - he had gone.

"Then he bounced back up so I thought 'right, it works' and I thought 'if it is OK for him it's OK for me.'"

The four were hauled back up to the bridge by friends, arrested by police and later given a warning.

They went on to perform jumps from structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge in California.

The story of the first bungee jump is told in Inside Out West on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on Monday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol spans the River Avon

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