Sometimes strange, interesting things emerge from family papers. In the back of an old photograph album there was a tiny card, in an envelope hand-addressed to F.E.Birks, my grandfather and dated 1907. The card has ‘ greetings’ on it and a photograph of T.Inch.
A bit of research soon established that he was Thomas Inch (1881-1963), described in 1910 as Britain’s strongest man. A music hall performer of feats of strength, he ran a successful mail order business selling body building equipment. He was the author of many books, including Scientific Weight-Building (1905) and numerous articles. He enjoyed a long career – at the age of 68 he could still Dead Life 540 lbs.
His name is remembered through the ‘Inch Dumb Bell’ which he originally had made for his show. They were so heavy that they had to have a specially thick bar that would not bend under their weight. This added a challenge to those using them, since they needed an exceptional grip to life them.
My grandfather was a health conscious man, so it is possible that, as a young man, he had a ‘keep fit’ regime based on Inch’s teaching. Or it is possible that Inch was a friend of the family.