Thursday, 24 September 2009
Harry Houdini at Tetley's
Harry Houdini was a Hungarian illusionist and magician born in 1874. Later in his career he turned to escapology and is considered the father of that art and still widely regarded to have been one of the greatest escapologists in history.
He introduced a famous milk can trick in 1908. An over-sized milk can would be filled with water; Houdini would be handcuffed and sealed inside, then left behind a curtain to make his daring escape.
Building on this stunt, in 1911, Tetley's, even then a company that understood the value of publicity, challenged him to escape from a padlocked metal cask of ale.
Houdini accepted this challenge. However, it proved too much for him and he had to be rescued by a colleague who was becoming concerned at the silence from behind the curtain as time passed.
Houdini was hauled from the barrel, overcome by carbon dioxide fumes, barely conscious, and probably rather drunk.
His final demise was in 1926 at the age of 52 when he expired as a result of a ruptured appendix caused by a punch to the abdomen by a fan of his as a demonstration of his strength.
Carlsberg have announced that they intend to close the Tetley plant in Leeds and move production elsewhere. Follow the campaign to save the brewery here.