Guinness Book of Records
One for the book…
Hefty rhubarb, big bellies, OAP pigeons and fire breathing... Wiltshire is in the book - the Guinness Book of Records that is.
Wiltshire may not boast the most cobras kissed, the most body piercings, the longest bout of sneezing, the longest toenails or the most lightning strikes survived…
And if you're asking the answers are: 11; 745; 978 days; 87 inches and 7 times respectively.
But as the former home of the man behind the Guinness Book of Records, Norris McWhirter, it’s no surprise that Wiltshire has not only been the best, beaten the rest but is in fact a bit of a record breaker.
But just how has Wiltshire made it into ‘The Book’?
As the Guinness Book of Records celebrates its 50th anniversary edition, we decided to find out…
What's long and thin, covered in skin, red in parts and goes in tarts? Rhubarb of course and in 1985 E. Stone from East Woodyates made it into the book with the world's heaviest rhubarb which weighed in at a hefty 2.67 kg (5 lb 14 oz).
Largest belly circumference
In 2001 gut barger contestant David White aka 'Mad Maurice Vanderkirkoff', from Trowbridge, proved he had the stomach for it when he took the record for the largest belly circumference with a belly measurement of 137.7 cm (54¼ in). And for those not in the know 'gut barging' involves two chunky chaps, stripped to the waist and lathered in engine oil, who on the shout of 'Guts Up' attempt to barge each other off a 12ft by 8ft mat using just their bellies.
Largest belly circumference
Oldest pigeon living
The world's oldest living pigeon record was nabbed by the ex-racing pigeon aptly named 'Old Man'. Owned by George E. Seagroatt, of Shrivenham, Old Man was born on 16 February 1980 and celebrated his 22nd birthday in 2002. A true racing pigeon Old Man won his maiden race as Soft Cell’s Tainted Love hit the charts way back in 1981.
Blindfold motorcycle speed record
In August 2003 Billy "the Whizz" Baxter, who lost his eyesight in 1997, smashed the previous world record by 24 mph when he hit a speed of 164.87 mph on a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle at RAF Boscombe. Baxter lost his sight whilst serving as a Staff Sergeant with the army in Bosnia. To achieve the record two ghost riders, from the Royal Artillery Motorcycle Display Team, rode alongside Mr Baxter shouting directions through a three-way voice-activated communications thingy.
Longest Hospital Trolley Duration
A dubious honour held by Tony Collins. After spending 77 hours and 30 minutes stuck outside the toilets in the Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon, between February 24 and 27, 2001, Collins made it into the Guinness World Records for the longest wait on a hospital trolley. According to the bed-sore Collins it wasn't a great achievement: “I can think of better records to have. And unfortunately, it will probably be the sort of record that gets broken every day in the NHS.”
Most Valuable Christmas Card
Forget the multi-pack, floppy Christmas cards, that don't stand up properly… In 2001 Christmas card prices hit an all time high when a card went under the hammer, at an auction in Devizes, and was sold to an anonymous bidder for £20,000.
Oldest pigeon living
Measuring just 5” by 3” the card went straight into the record books as the most valuable Christmas card in the World. Hand-coloured by the London illustrator John Calcott Horsley (who holds the honour of being the designer of the first ever Christmas card) the card was sent by Bath's Sir Henry Cole to his granny in 1843. Ahhh.
Longest Running One-Man Radio Soap Opera
’So you want me to write the theme tune, sing the theme tune?’.... actually more like create, write, produce, and perform. And for 16 years, from 1974, that’s exactly what Gerry Hughes did in the record breaking soap Acrebury. Over 2,000 episodes, following the ups and downs of life in the make-believe country village of Acrebury, were aired in a weekly serial on Swindon Hospital Radio. And Gerry, the 'One Man Village' voiced all 150 characters. Click on the link in the right hand column to listen to an omnibus edition of Acrebury that was broadcast on May, 7th 2000.
Fastest Tricky Disky
Not sure exactly what a Tricky Disky is but in 1999 young Daniel Bodio from Devizes managed to solve the puzzle in just 56.05 seconds. Not so Tricky Disky for Daniel I guess.
Most people fire breathing simultaneously
No, not on the pavement outside a pub in Ireland on a Friday night… but Stonehenge September 2004. As the sun set, 70 fire breathers (is there a collective name for them) gathered at the stones and simultaneously blew fire from their torches to take the rather cumbersomely named record of most people fire breathing simultaneously.
Most people fire breathing simultaneousl
Most Powerful Nerve Gas
Another dubious honour for Wiltshire. VX, known to those in the know as Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethylmethyl phosphonothiolate, (we'll call it VX if you don't mind) was developed at Porton Down in 1952. Deadly, green and smelling of rotting fish VX is 300 times more powerful than the phosgene used in World War I. Just 0.3 mg of VX, taken orally, is fatal. Once exposed to air, it vaporizes immediately and is absorbed by living things. The first symptom on exposure is the loss of muscle control, shortly followed by convulsions and death.
Horse, Oldest race winner
In May 2001 19 year old Al Jabal, a pure bred Arab, legged it over the line to win the Three Horseshoes Handicap Stakes, at Barbury Castle, and to become the oldest racehorse in the world to win on the flat.
And that's not all, there’s the Largest Ancient Stone Circle (Avebury), the Oldest person to write a book (103), Military Bench Press – accumulative weight (far to confusing to explain), the first borough (Malmesbury) and the smallest church in service in Britain….
So all we need now is a fire breathing OAP pigeon, blindfolded and riding a motorbike… or do we.
Guinness Book of Records … watch out!
If you've already made it into the Guinness Book of Records, have made a record attempt or are making an attempt this year than we want to hear from you…
last updated: 17/07/2008 at 14:39
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David White A.K.A. Mad Maurice