The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73132 Message #1265822
Posted By: Dave the Gnome
07-Sep-04 - 05:13 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Bouncing Billy Barker
Subject: Folklore: Bouncing Billy Barker
In Gorton, Manchester there was a local hero known as 'Bouncing Billy Barker'. His feats jumping were legendary and won him many a bet. I'm sure there used to be an online article in the Manchester Evening News archives but I can't even find the archives now!
One of his tricks was to lump over a horse from a standing start! Another was 'egg jumping' - He would put an egg on a stand and then 'bounce' on it without breaking the shell. He put blacking on the soles of his shoes to rub off on the egg and prove he had in fact touched it.
His most famous trick, however, was bouncing over the canal. Again from a standing start he would jump towards the opposite bank 'bounce' on the water the middle and then make it to the other side. As an encore he would do the same from the opposite back - but backwards!
His technique was to hold two weights in his hands and swing them - using the momentum to carry him to the other side. I never saw him as he died in the 60's I think well before I had even heard of him. I would have loved to have seen him in action though. Tony Hill, who's obituary (sadly) got me to thinking about Billy, wrote a song with the chorus
"Lay your money down, It can't be done
Cried many a remarker
Who's now heard of Gorton Town
and Bouncing Billy Barker"
Anyone heard of anything similar?