I was really disappointed when I read in Time Out (possibly via wikipedia) that one legged escalator tester Bumper Harris didn't exist - or at least that the London Transport Museum had no evidence to back it up. I wasn't convinced then, and am even less convinced now, as I received a message from Aaron who claims that Bumper Harris was his great, great, grandfather.
Bumper arriving for work?
The idea that someone was employed by London Transport to spend their days travelling up and down the first escalators at Earl's Court to prove that they were safe, sounds barking when you first hear it, but why would you want to make it up? And why would Aaron want to devise an elaborate story that fits in so well with all the other things I had heard about the legendary Bumper (that he retired to Gloucester to make make cider & violins)? Judge for yourself from the tale below and if you're a distant relative of Bumper let me know:
"Just thought that you would like to know that Bumper Harris was my great, great, grandfather. He was originally from just outside Bristol and saw a job advertised in a paper at Salford for an engineer. He walked from Bristol to Salford just outside of Manchester to apply for the job, by the time he got there he had worn his shoes out and the man who ran the engineering business felt so sorry for him he gave him the job.
He eventually ended up marrying the company owner’s daughter and moving to London where he went to work on the new underground. Whilst working some of his friends played a rather unfortunate joke on him and his leg was crushed between two carriages carrying rubble and he lost his leg. He was then employed to ride the escalator at Earls Court and made quite a bit of money, eventually ending up owning a number of properties in Greenwich.
After the underground he went on to work on the Severn Tunnel and was in charge of all of the drainage systems at Standish Hospital in Gloucestershire where he retired in Stonehouse to make cider, violins and became a watercolour artist.
When they were excavating the tunnel at Earls Court they found a seam of prehistoric oak that had not yet fully decomposed and 6 walking sticks were made out of it with silver handles, he was given one and it is now with relatives in Stonehouse."
Admittedly the last paragraph is almost too good to be true, but stranger things have happened.