Long johns belonging to England’s tallest man found in Hurst Green!

Fred Kempster, the English giant
Fred Kempster, the English giant
Share this article

A GIANT pair of long johns and a matching cotton night shirt once belonging to England’s tallest man and discovered in Hurst Green will go under the auctioneer’s hammer this month.

The colossal clothing was owned by Frederick Kempster, who at 8ft 4in was thought to be the the tallest man in England at the turn of the 20th Century. Born in London in 1889, his family later moved to Blackburn, where he died in 1918. While living in the town he used to enjoy a drink at a local pub owned by the Cook family, and where he became firm friends with the family’s son, Tom.

Fred Kempster's giant underwear set to be auctioned by Tennants

Fred Kempster's giant underwear set to be auctioned by Tennants

It was Tom Cook’s nephew, John Jardine, who discovered the pair of 5ft. long johns and white cotton nightshirt carefully stored at a house in Hurst Green in the 1970s. They are to be auctioned by Tennants, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on Saturday, April 28th, with an auction estimate of £150 to £250.

Mr Jardine said: “It’s a fascinating part of history and the fact we could save these is terrific. We can’t do anything with them that’s useful so I hope someone comes along and displays them to their full advantage.”

Also on sale with the undergarments are newspaper cuttings about Mr Kempster, who was so tall he could stand on a street and shake hands with someone in an upstairs window.

His father died when he was 10, leaving his mother to care for him and his six siblings. Unable to cope, she put him into care at Barnardo’s, from where he was sent to Canada for a chance of a better life.

While there he experienced weakness in his legs accompanied by unusual growth, and returned to England. He later toured Europe with a travelling circus and during the First World War was briefly captured and held prisoner in Germany.

Returning to Blackburn, he contracted pneumonia and died on April 15th 1918, aged 29.

For more information about the auction, visit: www.tennants.co.uk