TORNADO SMITH 1908 - 1971
Tornado Smith, born George William Smith, was the son of the landlord of the White Hart public house in Boxford. He is part of local legend. Tornado Smith brought the Wall of Death from America to England in 1929 and has been acknowledged by the British motorcycle industry as the first Englishman to perform the spectacular and highly dangerous Wall of Death in this country.
He shocked, startled and entertained paying customers who packed the standing area at the top of the wooden Wall. They leaned over to watch, at first probably doubting and disbelieving, as George Tornado Smith, revved up his motorbike and began to whiz round and round the cylindrical structure, seemingly defying gravity, danger and any doubters.
Tornado is also remembered for his two special partners on the Wall of Death. One, a pretty brunette motorcyclist who rode her own Indian Scout with equal dexterity and appeared under the name of "Marjorie Dare", she was in fact Mrs "Tornado" Smith. The other was a twelve stone lioness called Briton, first introduced in the show as an added attraction, riding on the handlebars and later, when she was fully grown, riding in the sidecar. When Briton died, she was buried under the forecourt of Tornado's home, The White Hart pub.
In 1966 Tornado and his wife left for South Africa, where he died in 1971. It was reported that he departed owing money and later declared bankrupt. When he died however, he left £100,000! In newspaper reports he was variously described as a "Gentle Daredevil" and a "Kindly Miser", the latter being the preferred description of the tax investigators.