Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Monday, 20 September 2010

James Johnson

We recently did a post on St. Georges Parish Magazine, which showed a picture of the church on the cover. We had a comment posted today off Rachel Walker (Australia) about her great grandfather James Johnson. James it turns out was a gymnast of some renown, and astounded crowds of on lookers by preforning on top of the old Gasometer on Raglan Street.. and even scarier than that by climbing the flag pole on the top of St. Georges Church and balancing upside down on one hand. Rachel tells us that her great grandfather also preformed in front of Royalty 3 times..


Jame and his brother Sam

James Johnson was born in Hyde in 1878, he enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1896 and became a sergeant. He was a member of the army gymnastic team and appeared before royalty three times as Rachel said, as a gymnast. Much of his time in the forces was spent as a musketry, drill, physical training and fencing instructor, James was considered a master in the art of bayonet fighting. He was an outstanding runner and won many professional handicaps. He served in the Boer War and the First World War and even attended Queen Victoria's funeral. When he was 61 he volunteered to join up when the Second World War broke out but he was turned down as being too old.


James died September 17th 1965 aged 89

"It's not the coat that makes the man but the things that God gave him."
James' favourite expression


Tom said...

What a great chap he sounds to... I would have loved to see him on St. Georges flag pole... I could not see that happening here now... the health and safety folk would have a fit..
Seems that the Johnson's were a brave bunch with all five brothers joining up. Hydonians to be proud of.

Hydonian said...

Indeed,Tom. You dont get many of those to the pound,eh?

Dave Ex St Georges/Green Street said...

Its great to hear a story that I have grown up with being confirmed by a descendant of Jim's. I am a great grandson of Frank who was one of Jim's older brothers and have heard the story about the St Georges handstand many times from my Dad.
Frank was also a runner in his youth and then an engineer at Crossley Brothers.
I have a photo of the 5 brothers and will get it posted if possible with one of Frank in his running gear.
I can only imagine what sort of early years this group of 5 lads would have had being brought up in one of the terraced houses at John Shepley Street.
If anyone has any other stories about the family I would love to hear them.

Tom said...

Hi Dave..
If you have any pictures to share they would be most welcome, your comments have been well appreciated and I look forward to reading more... where do you live now Dave?