Gallery: 'Wall of death' stunt stuns pub-goers

A VILLAGE'S unusual claim to fame has been relived after the gratify-defying wall of death returned to its roots.

Dave Gooderham

A VILLAGE'S unusual claim to fame has been relived after the gratify-defying wall of death returned to its roots.

The links between Boxford and the exhilarating motorcycle stunt can be traced back to Suffolk stuntman George “Tornado” Smith, credited as the first English performer of the activity.

Tornado is renowned as one of the village's most famous sons and his life was remembered at the weekend when the Wall of Death was re-enacted.


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The White Hart Hotel - the pub Tornado once ran with his parents - hosted the bike stunt to the delight of residents and visitors, young and old alike.

Ashley Hart, pub manager, said: “The whole event has been absolutely fantastic. We wanted to host a weekend relating to the history of Tornado Smith so we decided to have the Wall of Death in the car park.

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“Tornado is well known in the village but it has been great to see so many people, young and old. We feel there has been something for everyone. I would just like to thank the organisers and also everyone who turned up.”

Tornado, who was born in Boxford, started the first UK wall troupe in 1930 after seeing an American group perform at Southend.

Despite injuries and initially being refused a job with a leading group, he went on to become renowned for his showmanship in the wall and would often ride with a lioness called Briton.

He also rode with his wife, known as “Dynamite Doris”, and on occasions carried a skeleton in his side car which popped up during the ride.

The stunt, which is depicted on the Boxford village sign, involves riding a bike around a narrow barrel-shaped arena, gathering pace until able to climb the vertical at right angles to the ground.

Mr Hart, whose pub has memorabilia devoted to Tornado's achievements, even got the chance to stand in the arena while the bikes shot past him.

He said: “I couldn't believe it when they asked me whether I wanted to stand in the middle. It was so exhilarating and brilliant - I am still shaking.”

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