Carlos Trower – The African Blondin
Carlos Trower, an Afro-American tight rope walker who called himself ‘The African Blondin’ was born in the late 1840s in New York and began tight-rope walking at an early age.
In September 1864, whilst still a teenager, he was engaged by the North Staffordshire Railway to walk across the lake on a rope suspended some hundred feet above the water.
This was the first major event organised by the NSR. Special trains were run from nearby towns and the Potteries with over three thousand spectators attending.
“The great African Blondin has this week delighted thousands of excursionists by his clever and daring feat…”
Fourteen years later, at the end of June and beginning of July 1878, he returned to Rudyard, performing on three separate days. Again the events proved extremely popular and the special trains laid on were ‘crowded to excess’. The ERA (a stage newspaper) reported that at “Rudyard Lake and Skating Rink the great African Blondin has this week delighted thousands of excursionists by his clever and daring feat of crossing Rudyard Lake on a rope stated to be a hundred feet high.”.
In 2010 Carlos Trower’s great-grandson, Ron Howard, visited Rudyard Lake to see where his great-grandfather had performed.
A day at the lake
Over the May Day bank holiday weekend of 2016 Chris Bull, aka Bullzini (www.bullzinifamily.com) recreated the tight-rope walk of 150 years earlier twice each day.
The event was called ‘A Day at the Lake’ where for one weekend, Rudyard was re-imagined as it was in the late 1800s as an excursion place for thousands of day-trippers.
Carlos Trower – Carved sculpture
A tree sculpture was completed and unveiled in April 2016 in memory of Carlos Trower. It was created by award-winning artist, sculptor and craftsman Anthony Hammond ( www.anthonyhammond.co.uk ) who is based in North Staffordshire.