The Flying Pieman by Eric Shackle

Australia's Flying Pieman, English-born William Francis King. was famous in the mid 1800s for his remarkable athletic achievements and eccentric behaviour.

"A sprightly figure in knee-breeches and staff, he was renowned for performing bizarre walking feats, usually on a wager and always against time," said an article in the Maitland Mercury (New South Wales) on October 2, 1847.

He twice beat the Sydney to Windsor mail coach (35 miles) on foot, walked the 18 miles from Sydney to Parramatta and back twice a day, for six consecutive days, and walked from Campbelltown to Sydney (33 miles) in under nine hours while carrying a 70 lb dog. He also balanced a live 90 lb goat plus a 12 lb dead weight, while walking from Sydney to Parramatta, in just under seven hours.

He used to sell pies at Sydney's Circular Quay to passengers getting on the steamship to Parramatta and then meet the same passengers disembarking - having beaten them to Parramatta on foot. He once picked up 100 live cats, 100 live rats and 100 live mice, placed a yard apart. (If only they'd had TV in those days!)

You can see a sketch and read other details of the Flying Pieman by clicking Here.

Copyright © 2002. Eric Shackle.