'Wall of Death' Boxford pub celebrates George 'Tornado' Smith

Wall of Death Image copyright White Hart, Boxford
Image caption The attraction features riders circling horizontally on the inside of a vertical wall

A pub has turned itself into a museum dedicated to a man who popularised the motorcycle "Wall of Death" attraction.

George "Tornado" Smith grew up at the White Hart in Boxford, Suffolk, and performed stunts from the 1930s until the 1960s.

His tame pet lioness, called Briton, used to ride with him.

The pub has been revamped to include photos and artefacts about Tornado, and his Wall of Death returns this weekend.

Image copyright White Hart, Boxford
Image caption Smith used a lioness in his act
Image copyright White Hart, Boxford
Image caption Smith's Wall of Death has been set up in the car park of the White Hart
Image copyright White Hart, Boxford
Image caption The White Hart has had photos and information about Tornado mounted in its walls and artefacts on display

Smith set up his attraction at the Kursaal amusement park in Southend-on-Sea, and the lioness became part of his act, riding with him on the handlebars, before moving to a sidecar as she got larger.

He used to return to Boxford out-of-season and set it up there, where he could be seen taking Briton for walks around the village on a lead.

Nic Keeble, bar manager at the White Hart, said: "Tornado, who died in the 1970s, is a part of local folklore, and the lioness was buried under the pub car park, so it seemed fitting to celebrate his life by turning the pub into a bit of a museum."

Wall of Death

  • First 'silodrome' with vertical walls introduced in US in 1915
  • Riders favoured the US Indian Scout motorcycle
  • First Wall of Death in UK appeared at Kursaal amusement park, Southend-on-Sea, in 1929
  • Some 50 shows toured UK in the 1930s
  • Elvis Presley's 1964 movie Roustabout based around a Wall of Death

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