Martin Cain responded to my plea for help.
The Blackpool/Walsall Illuminations story would seem to be myth. To quote Martins email,
(Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall- Stymaster)
As Told to me by Brain Salt Ex of Q.M.
[Charabanc- ie: bus or coach- Stymaster]
Symbolically ditto but set in 1930's when a pole squatter did a record attempt in the Arboretum.
Mystery Trip CharaB.
ended up in Walsall to view pole squatter,
Later repeated but Rhyl set as starting point.
Also heard with Weston as starting point.
Clearly a myth given travelling times.
Angela Steatham also replied:
She then remembered the name:
I heard this one from a friend who attended Queen Mary's Grammar School; the lad who arranged the original tour was the son of the Manager of Co-op Travel.
He was doing some weekend work at his dad's place and I think the story is true. If I am right, it would have happened 1979/80?
Thanks Angela, and sorry for mis-spelling your name at first.
I know the name....Dave Kelly! Maybe this helps your validating process!
Update: Peter Barker got in touch and said the following:
Hello While searching the internet for details on the pole squatter that my father photographed in (we think) 1950 or 1951 (I remember my gran telling me that he was there a year or two before I was born in 1952) I've just come your web page on urban myths. Just to let you know -- it's not a myth. My mum (sadly no longer with us) and dad (Jim Barker) went to Blackpool for a caravan holiday and while there boarded a mystery coach trip, which took them to see the man up the pole, outside Walsall Arboretum. Please have a look here.Then after a few days,
Hi Chris I've finally received definitive information on the man in the barrel which may help to date the mystery trip from Blackpool: Stuart Williams, the photographer at the Local History Centre in Essex Street has dug up the info and has sent me the following email message:Many thanks Pete.I have the answer to this now, Pete. The pole-sitter is Vic Reeves of Bloxwich. He spent over 31 days in the barrel on top of a forty foot pole as part of an endurance test, sponsored by the cafe's owner Claude Roe. The event took place from July 19 to August 19, 1952. This was a world record, and as of the time Mr. Reeves died (June 2001) it still was a record. While he was in the barrel, Mr. Roe fed Mr. Reeves by sending food and drink up on a rope. It is not recorded what he did with the waste products! Hope this helps!He's also updated the Flickr page. Hope it's of some interest. Best regards Pete
On the subject of men pole-sitting in barrels, does anyone remember the one at (I think) the Spring Cottage in Shelfield in the late 70s or early 80s?
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