* The Euretta was a whaling ship from Newcastle upon Tyne. John Boswell was master from 1798 to 1811 so it would seem likely this was the skipper with whom Willie met.
The amazing story of the strong man of Blyth
Willie Carr the gentle giant.

When I was a kid I heard lots of stories about the local strong man.
I figured they were probably distorted by time and didn't pay a lot of attention.

Recently I decided to do some research and see if I could find the real story and this is what I have come up with.

William Carr weighed in at 330 lb and it was all muscle.
Once he carried a ship's anchor weighing half a ton from the ship to the Smithy and another time he vaulted a five barred gate with a 115 lb woman under his arm.

At the end of the 18th century Press gangs roamed the streets looking for able bodied men they could capture and take to sea to join the navy. It was an extremely tough life and not many people joined the navy voluntarily.

There are many stories of Press gangs attempting to capture Willie but they could never overpower him.
It became an obsession with the Press gangs to capture this prise and one day enough of them got together and set a trap for him.
He was taken to a boat in Blyth harbour and they began rowing towards the Press gang tender lying some way off shore.
Now Willie was an excellent swimmer and during the journey asked the coxswain if he could swim. When the coxswain asked why he would ask Willie said, “because we shall all be swimming in a moment,” and at the same time with his back against one side of the boat and his feet against the other, he straightened his legs with a mighty heave and split the boat almost in two.
He left the crew splashing around in a panic and made his way back to shore never to be bothered by the Press gangs again.

WILLIE CARR was a blacksmith in Blyth and was once commissioned to make a number of harpoons for the ship *“Euretta” which was tied up at North Shields.
When he realised the delivery date had arrived and the order was almost overdue he picked up the harpoons, put them across his shoulders, (about 120 lbs) and walked from Blyth to North Shields ten miles away.
There was still time to have a chat with the skipper at a local pub where the two of them put away two bottles of gin between them.
After that he walked home to Blyth none the worse for his indulgence.

It is also true that he carried a large rock to the Delaval Arms.
The rock is still there and apparently broke several handcarts before he picked it up and carried it.
It seems he slaked his thirst there too in a big manner.

Willie was a gentle person and not easily provoked but once in a pub a drunk began to joke, at Willie's expense, and said some things which Willie thought were in bad taste and offensive to him.
A couple of warnings had no effect, so Willie picked up the fire poker, a very strong iron bar, and with his two hands, twisted it around the drunk's neck saying “it wad hae te bide there till he behave hissel,” which translated from Geordie means “it will have to stay there until he behaves himself.” Only Willie had the strength to remove it.

At the age of 62 Willie was stricken with rheumatism and was frequently confined to his bed for long periods. On the occasions that he was seen out and about it is reported that he was bent almost double.

Willie died aged 69 on September 6, 1825 and is burried in the graveyard of the church I attended but his legend lives on and a bronze statue of him bending an iron bar now stands proudly in the shopping center in Blyth.

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