Records Galore

Johnny Strange - Most apples held in own mouth and cut by chainsaw
Johnny Strange - Most apples held in own mouth and cut by chainsaw

As the popular book Guinness World Records 2015 celebrates 60 years of providing listings for achievements in all manner of enterprises the North West makes many appearances on its pages – and even holds the record-breaking title to many unusual achievements not in this year’s annual.

From Nick Bennett, a restaurant  owner from Leigh, Lancashire,recognised for having the largest known James Bond 007 collection on the planet – to Bradford College where, in June 2012, chefs and students cooked the largest samosa weighing 244lb 4oz and 4ft 5in long and 2ft 9in wide and named Big Bertha, the book identifies all kind of weird and wonderful records.

In 2013 Nick Bennett was listed as having 12,463 items because of his addiction to 007 – including the shoes Roger Moore wore in The Man with the Golden Gun and a speedboat from Live and Let Die. He has so many items, in fact, that they are stored in a warehouse in Warrington. This is the sort of dedication that appeals to the Guinness book and makes for fascinating reading.

Did you know, for instance, that Johnny Strange held eight apples one at a time in his mouth and chopped them up in one minute with a chainsaw while doing so? That performance took place during Doncaster’s Tattoo Jam in South Yorkshire on October 12, 2013. Johnny Strange – Most apples held in own mouth and cut by chainsaw

In fact, teaming up with Danielle D’Ville Johnny also set the record for the most apples held in her mouth and cut in half in one minute by a chainsaw he was wielding – 12. Daniella (also Danielle Martin) also created one record of her own – rotating a sword balanced on a dagger nine times in a minute at the same venue.

Norman Barrett, a circus ringmaster, was surprised by Michael Aspel in the first This is Your Life programme filmed outside London, at the Blackpool Tower Circus where he had been a popular ringmaster for 25 years.


Norman worked for such prestigious names as the Roberts Brothers Circus and the Bertram Mills Circus. He trained and presented animals, and spent time as a juggler and a clown.

In 1966 he began his long association as ringmaster with the Blackpool Tower Circus. His 25 years at the venue, along with his various television appearances, earned him international exposure, and he become the most loved and best known circus personality in Great Britain — and an entry in the Guinness Records for the Longest Career as a Ringmaster (56 years).

Blackpool is a popular venue for records. It already claims the record for the most candyfloss made in 90 minutes is 204 achieved by Peggy Chadwick of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, on 31 August 2001, and getting the most people down a water slide in one hour – 289 – achieved by the Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool, on 13 November 2014.

It also had the longest leg on a crab – 4 ft 8.5 in – belonging to ‘Big Daddy’ living at Sea Life Blackpool, and was measured in Blackpool, on 8 August 2013.

Even places get a mention in the book. Liverpool Road station in Manchester is the oldest railway station in the UK, opening in September 1830 and closing in 1975.

Among the sporting stars recorded is Oldham-born Kevin Sinfield who scored 3,498 points for Leeds Rhinos from September 13, 1998, to March 14, 2014 – the most points scored in a Super League career.

John McGuinness, born in Morecambe, earns an entry for clocking the fastest lap in the Isle of Man TT on June 2, 2013, completing the lap in 17 minutes 11.57seconds on his Honda CBR1000RR. It was his sixth and final lap on the Mountain Course at an average speed of 131.67 mph.

And Bradley Wiggins, from Eccleston, Lancashire, gets a mention for the greatest number of Olympic cycling medals won by an individual – seven – an honour he shares with Chris Hoy. He is also mentioned as the first to win Olympic Gold and the Tour de France in the same year in 2012 – victories just ten days apart.

If it is speed that interests you, try challenging Mat Mceown’s world record. He made the fastest motorised shopping trolley, which reached 70.4 mph at Elvington Airfield in North Yorkshire on
August 18, 2013.

Liverpool-born novelist James Gordon Farrell who died in 1979, is listed as one of four authors who have twice won the Booker Prize.

Some records will not be broken because they are identified as firsts. Like that of Robert Whitehead who was born the son of a cotton-bleacher, in Bolton, trained as an engineer and draughtsman, and attended the Mechanics Institute in Manchester. He developed a selfpropelled underwater torpedo in 1866 and the first ship to be sunk by such a weapon, the Intibah, in 1878 was sunk
by one of his torpedos during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The book, of course, cannot contain every record, but BBC Radio Lancashire presenter John Gillmore hopes to be in the next edition of the record-breaking annual after breaking the Guinness
World Record for the most radio interviews conducted in 24 hours. The presenter did 293 interviews during his “Gillathon”, in aid of BBC Children in Need in November last year.

During the 24 hours he asked 1,649 questions to girl guides, a choir, and members of a jujitsu club to beat the previous record held by an Italian radio station that did 256 interviews. It will hopefully be in the next edition.

Here is a book packed with records – probably a record in itself. I haven’t managed to count just how many records are identified but just perhaps I must check on whether anyone has done so and how long it took. That would be a record.