Houdini trick took on Rochester police force
They thought they had him bang to
rights. But the great escapologist had other ideas.
Harry Houdini appeared at Barnard’s
Palace of Varieties in Chatham on January 30, 1905. As usual he
sought to perform his usual publicity stunt.
He would ask the police of any town
he visited to handcuff him and lock him in the cells. Of course he
always managed to get free, and at the same time get a picture and
story in the local papers, which helped ensure he always played to
His arrival in Chatham coincided
with new cells having been recently installed at the police
station, which was run by Kent County Constabulary. But Houdini’s
request to try them out was emphatically turned down. Kent Police
did not want it to get around that the new cells were not 100%
However Rochester had its own
police force headed, in 1905, by Chief Constable Alfred Arnold who
was much more amenable to the idea.
The stunt involved Houdini being
stripped, secured with four sets of regulation hand cuffs, locked
in a cell with his clothes locked in the one next door. Other cells
held members of Rochester council, presumably fully clothed.
Within three minutes, the great
escapologist had freed himself from the handcuffs, unlocked his
cell, broken into the cell in which his clothes were held and
released the amazed councillors.
Full story in today's Medway
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