This topic is about William (Bill) Scruton from Gorton in Manchester. Otherwise known as “Bouncing Billy Barker” and occasionally as “Springheel Jack”.
This page is to complement the information page here: www.Billy Barker.co.uk
I have secured some space on this blog in order that people can submit their comments and memories. Since the Billy Barker Information Page went up a couple of years ago, I have received quite a few e-mails from people who remembered him. I have received other emails and photos by e-mail from many people related to Billy; many of whom were researching their family tree and just found out they were related to him by chance.
His Grandson Gerald popped up on a blog in 2005 when this subject was mentioned. He said:
The man in question was William Scruton, late of Woodhouse St in Gorton. He was my grandfather.
He used to do feats of strength and jumping tricks at the music halls. Also he would make money by betting a crowd that he could jump the canal locks in Openshaw – then make some more by jumping the lock backwards.
As a true showman he would often do his jumping feats with a heavy weight in each hand. Only close friends and family knew his secret – that this was not a handicap, but he actually used the momemtum of the swinging weights to jump further, giving the impression that he was bouncing off the canal water or in and out of a barrel of eggs.
I’m very proud that so many people remember him.
I had an e-mail recently from a fellow called Alan. He had this to say:
Billy Barker lived two streets away from me in Woodhouse Street, Gorton,
on the corner of Bramhall Street, I believe. The picture on the above
site appears to be from that street.
I remember seeing him perform on TV probably 50 years or so ago (late
1950’s, early 1960’s). It would have been on BBC or Granada (ITV) at
that time. If I recall correctly he jumped on and off a candle and put
it out without breaking it. May be the TV station still has some
recording of the show. Sorry I can’t offer more info.
It’s surprising who finds the information page, and what they have to say.
I was contacted a while ago by a lady called Alwyn, who it turns out is also related to us. I have linked her to this topic.
More recently, I was contacted by Christopher Scruton, another of Billy’s great-grandsons who I didn’t know existed. He told me this:
My name is Christopher Scruton, and I too am a greatgrandson of Billy. My father Stan has fond memories of his grandad, and often told great stories of his life. A poignant moment came when he passed away, shortly before he died he tried to take his ring off & give it to my dad (Stan). Unfortunately he couldn’t manage to take it off, and he died a short time later. My uncle David Scruton, has various newspaper stories, photo’s & stories of his own about his grandad. The most memorable one is a photo of him during his army days where he is pictured balancing a vickers machine gun on his chin! This weapon weighs approx 50kg, but makes it look light as a feather. There are many other stories I’ve heard that have actually astounded me, and made me wonder how he could perform these feats. I heard he could jump the length of a snooker tasble (12ft) backwards from a standing start. He also challenged 2 people to tie 2 pieces of string to each of his little finger & see if they could move him by pulling the string. They couldn’t, but what makes it even more amazing is, at the time of this Billy was 80 years old!
I have also been contacted by several journalists and a radio show who wanted interviews. I didn’t have the depth of information the researchers were seeking then. Via this page, that will most likely come to fruition in the future.
Rather than me being the conduit between many people as I have been up to now, I intend that this page can be where any members of the family and any other people who are interested in the man and his life can share stories, perhaps contact info if needed, and anything you want via the “comments” section at the bottom. This way, we might all stay on the same page; metaphorically and otherwise.
Thanks for reading and if you have a comment, do feel free to use the comments box below.
Please note, all comments go to “moderation” to avoid spam, so your comment will appear soon. Just to make you aware comments will not appear immediately – but they will appear the same or the next day.