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Peterborough’s Bird Man: Walter Cornelius

1923

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Looking up at the wind vane above the Lido, you might be confused by the shape. The weather vane commemorates the life of Walter Cornelius. He is possibly best known in the city for his comical attempts to fly over the rive Nene and for his amazing strength. The reason his likeness sits above the Lido is because he was a swimming instructor there in the 60's and 70's. He taught thousands of children to swim and as a lifeguard kept them safe. The weather vane was created after calls to commemorate the life of such a well-known man. Born in Latvia in 1923, Walter was quite the entertainer and successfully broke many world records. He was a strongman and daredevil too. He won the world sausage eating championship in 1966 and pushed a pea along the ground with his nose for three miles. Thankfully Walter was recorded on television. Videos of him showing his amazing strength can be found on youtube and at the East Anglian Film Archive.
Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan - geograph.org.uk/p/4950166






A Snapshot of Thorney Wildlife Park

1975

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Thorney Wildlife Park existed in the 1970s and 80s. Run by the Roberts brothers, the park contained a wide mix of exotic animals. The animals ranged from lions and tigers to elephants, birds and kangaroos. Unlike modern zoos and parks, Thorney Wildlife Park closed during the winter season. It was during this closed season that video cameras visited the site. The park was situated in the grounds of Thorney Manor, originally home to the Dukes of Bedford. The house, featured in the film, was used as a cafe and as shelter during the winter. In 1971 a large fire in the house killed three monkeys valued at £150 each. Thankfully it was brought under control before the house or other animals were destroyed. The video attached is part of a 'Portrait of a Place' series, which was produced by Anglian Television and is now part of the East Anglian Film Archive. It shows several local people, some of the most note-worthy buildings and the wildlife park.