LOOKING BACK: Memorial planned for Walter – VIDEO

Walter Cornelius' birdman stunt across the Nene
Walter Cornelius' birdman stunt across the Nene
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A plan to create a permanent memorial to one of Peterborough’s most famous characters has been revealed.

Vivacity, the city’s arts and leisure trust, has launched an appeal to raise £5,000 to fund a weather vane in tribute to strongman Walter Cornelius.

Walter, who was born in Latvia in 1923 emigrated to Peterborough in the 1940s where he became a living legend famed for wacky feats of strength and endurance, many of which raised thousands of pounds for charities.

During the summer months he worked as a lifeguard at Peterborough lido and it is there that the memorial is planned to be installed.

He died in 1983 aged 60 and since then there have been attempts to have his life commemorated.

The idea for the weather vane which will depict him “flying’’ over the River Nene –one of his most famous stunts – was proposed by his close friends Chris Allen and Cllr John Fox.

Walter hams it up the camera

Walter hams it up the camera

The memorial will be unveiled when it opens for the 2016 season on May 28 – the Lido’s 80th anniversary.

Vivacity will donate £1,000 towards the project.

Jon Marsden, director of Sport & Healthy Living at Vivacity said: ‘‘We hope that the community that still remembers him will help support this worthy cause, in offering Walter and the city, a long-lasting reminder of his incredible legacy of goodwill and services to charity.’

“If you would like to show your support, please go to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/waltercornelius to make a donation.’’

Walter and a pea pushing challenge

Walter and a pea pushing challenge

Vivacity is also asking those who remember Walter to post their favourite memories on the official Facebook page set up at:

Chris Allen at www.facebook.com/groups/waltercornelius.

For more information see www.vivacity-peterborough.com/waltercornelius.

Vivacity has put together a list of walter’s world records and notable feats.

Walter breathes fire

Walter breathes fire

1. Made the world laugh in one day by jumping off a supermarket roof in Peterborough whilst

wearing home-made wings.

2. Balanced a 12 stone dumbbell on his forehead whilst drinking a pint of beer.

3. Hopped on one leg for 1 hour 30 minutes.

4. Had 1,000 lb steel plate laid on his chest and three balls beneath his back whilst 4 men hit the plate with sledge hammers.

5. Lifted a 650 cc motor cycle and 9 stone girl with his teeth.

Walter had a long battle to win British citizenship

Walter had a long battle to win British citizenship

6. Was buried 5ft underground for 33 minutes with no breathing apparatus.

7. Ran backwards for 340 miles.

8. Ate grass for 6 days and drank 20 cups of coffee on each of the days.

9. Walked on his hands for 153 miles.

10. Lifted 30 pints of beer and drank at the same time.

11. Pulled two double decker buses, full of people, with his teeth, 700 yards.

12. Lifted a Mini with 26 girls inside on his back.

13. Ate 47 raw sausages in 8 minutes 30 seconds.

14. Held 14 motor cycles (7 on each arm) pulling in opposite directions.

15. Swung and pulled 123 ton barge along the river for 440 yards.

16. Held 4 cars (2 on each arm) pulling in opposite directions.

17. Pulled a 45 ton locomotive along the rails with his teeth, 140 yards.

18. Broke down 4” wall with his head.

19. Had a double decker bus run over his chest.

20. Had a 28 stone man jump from an 8ft ladder onto his stomach.

21. Pulled a mini with 26 girls inside with his teeth whilst walking on his hands.

22. Ate 18 raw eggs at one sitting, 36 in 15 seconds.

23. Walked on top of two tractor tyres for 25 miles.

24. Crawled for 4 miles with 3 girls sitting on his back.

25. Played largest ‘clackers’ in the world.

26. Had a rope tied round his neck whilst 10 men on each end of the rope pulled in opposite directions.

27. Pushed a pea with his nose up a hill for 1,400 yards.

28. Swam under water and breathed fire.

29. Was used as a human roundabout.

30. Poured 2 gallons of petrol over his body and set it alight.

31. Broke an 8” wall with his hands in 23 seconds.

32. Skipped for 1½ hours with a chain weighing 48 lbs.

33. Balanced a 12 stone dumbbell on his forehead whilst playing harmonica and spoons.

34. Nine men sitting on one 750cc motor cycle rode over his stomach.

35. Had 3” thick concrete slab laid on his head, then had the slab smashed with 16 lb sledge


36. Drank 3 yards of Guinness.

37. Performed tug of war against 100 children.

38. Carried 4 bags of cement (each weighing ½ cwt) on his head for ½ mile.

39. Pushed a bus with his head for ½ mile.

40. Carried a horse in the sea for 300 yards.

41. Carried 8 stones and ran for 1 mile.

42. Held 6 motor cycles with his teeth.

43. Carried an aeroplane with a man inside for 800 yards.

44. Swam under water for 165 yards.

45. Drank 2 bottles of brandy for a bet.

46. Ran 1 mile, cycled 1 mile, swam 110 yards, performed ‘clean and jerk’ (250 lbs) 20 times consecutively.

47. Ate a live mouse in 2 bites for a bet.

48. Swam across the English Channel for a £200 bet in 1950.

49. Spat fire from mouth, 25ft 8” indoors, 22 ft outdoors.

50. Pulled a dumper truck weighing 9 tons with 15 children inside to the top of a 25 yard hill.

51. Wrestlers bridge – supporting 34 men on a platform.

52. Ate 17½ ft of sausages in 5 minutes, 34 seconds (1971).

53. Ate 3½ lbs raw English onions in 2 minutes.

54. Carried 9 men on one bicycle for 11 miles (1949).

Walter at the Lido where he spent many happy years

Walter at the Lido where he spent many happy years

Ouch! Another stunt for Walter

Ouch! Another stunt for Walter

It ain't heavy.. Walter and another show of strength

It ain't heavy.. Walter and another show of strength