Bouncing Billy Barker, Canal Jumper

Back in November 2008 I posted a video of Tony McCabe, a man who claimed he could jump on hen's eggs and human noses without breaking them, and who demonstrated his ability in 1974 on the UK's Nationwide TV program.

At the time, I thought McCabe was just some random, weird guy. But I recently learned that there's actually some broader historical context to his odd performance.

He was apparently one of the last of a type of British showman who would entertain crowds by performing jumping feats. They would jump into a crate of eggs and out again, without breaking any. Or jump on and off a man's nose without hurting him. Or jump on and off a candle, putting it out without breaking it. Or jump the length of a snooker table backwards from a standing start.

But the greatest feat these showmen aspired to perform was to jump across a canal, appearing to bounce off the water in the middle.

One of the most famous of these jumpers was Bouncing Billy Barker of Gorton in Manchester. He supposedly bounced across the Openshaw Canal, and then, as an encore, bounced back from the opposite site — backwards.

Tony McCabe was the protégé of Bouncing Billy Barker. But I'm guessing, based on the quality of McCabe's performance in the video, that he must not have attained the full level of skill of his master.

Read more about Bouncing Billy Barker at The Mudcat Cafe,, and the Real Deal blog.

Manchester Evening News - circa 1992 (via

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 02, 2016
     Category: Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers | Human Marvels

I don't know about bouncing off water but "jump the length of a snooker table backwards from a standing start" I'm going to call shenanigans. The playing surface of a snooker table is 11'8½" then add about another foot for the rails and you've exceeded the current standing broad jump world record of 12'3" (and that's forward).
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/02/16 at 08:38 AM
Too bad there isn't any record of Bouncing Billy in action. Tom does a great job of jumping over eggs without actually landing on them, but not very entertaining.

Does jumping to conclusions count?
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 09/02/16 at 11:27 AM
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