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Railway Man Fasts for 50 Days

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

Railway man fasts for 50 days

A story from the Bridlington Free Press of July 1932 tells of the 50-day fast by Alfred Wilson, a railway porter from Stockport.

After a fast of 70 days the previous year, Mr Wilson undertook this feat for a wager of £200.

He spent his fifty days in a specially made cabinet in a room over the Prince Street slipway, starting at 7.30pm one Saturday night. On entering the cabinet his weight was 8st. 81/2lb.

Bulletins on Mr Wilson's progress were broadcast frequently, the first, issued on Sunday, announcing that he had smoked twelve cigarettes and drunk three quarters of a bottle of lemonade.
Monday's bulletin said he was "cheerful," and that he had smoked a further 22 cigarettes and drunk one and a half bottles of lemonade.

By Friday, his weight was down to 7st. 131/2lb, and thereafter he smoked an average of twenty cigarettes a day with up to a bottle of liquid a day.

By the following Sunday he was said to be feeling "very weak" and his pulse was up to 100. He now weighed 7st. 111/2lb. He felt better on Tuesday and by this time hundreds of people had visited his cabinet.

On the 18th day, he was quite confident although weak, his weight now 7st. 8lbs. An attendant told the Bridlington Free Press that Mr Wilson would soon be in a coma and that he felt dizzy when he stood up. After the fast it was expected that Mr Wilson would have to go to hospital for treatment for some time. Substantial food would be "out of the question," said the spokesman.

After 46 days Mr Wilson's weight was down to 7st. 6lb. 7oz. and he was advised to remain lying down, still and quiet. He was exceedingly weak.

At 7pm on Sunday seven weeks later, Mr Wilson's fast was over. He had earlier been advised by doctors to give up, but had decided to continue. When leaving the cabinet, he smiled "feebly" but kept a cheerful expression.

Over the fifty days, Mr Wilson had smoked between 700 and 800 cigarettes and drunk over 100 bottles of mineral water.