Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Fun 9

I thought I'd tell you about a local Black Country legend who became famous for something that we today would consider quite strange. His name was Joseph Darby and he was born in Netherton. His nickname was Jumping Joe and he was famous for jumping. Yes, jumping. He would jump things from a standing start. He was especially renowned for his ability to jump over a canal. He would do this in two bounds, just letting his feet skim the surface of the water on his second leap. It was a distance of over fifteen feet. An amazing feat for a Victorian man with no athletic training. It's said he made his living from the bets he took regarding his abilities.
He was also someimes referred to as Springheeled Jack.
There is now a statue of him in the centre of Netherton. Unfortunately for poor Joe it shows him in his starting pose, crouched down low with an expression of concentration on his face as he prepares to leap.
So it came as no surprise when the locals discovered some wag had added a toilet for Joe. It was hastily removed but even now Joesy the jumper often gets dressed up. The last time I drove by he was sporting orange waterwings and a swimming cap.


Lis said...

lol I can just picture the statue in the waterwings! You'd think they would have thought more about his pose

Kate Hardy said...

I can imagine it, too *g*

Interesting story, though.

The 19th century also had a very odd pastime called pedestrianism - kind of foot racing, but with a twist (such as walking so many miles in so many hours, or walking backwards, or picking up stones, or carrying a certain weight). The one that caught my attention in Norwich was the race between two men who each had two wooden legs. (And no, I'm not teasing. REALLY.) :o)