Pic of the day: lone fire eater, South Bank, London

Pic of the day: lone fire eater, South Bank, London

Gamely pursuing his craft despite the complete absence of a crowd is this lone fire eater, spotted on London’s South Bank.

Although fire-eating dates back many centuries, it grew in popularity during the late Victorian period, and by the late 1880s it had become a standard feature in circus and street sideshows.

Pic of the day: lone fire eater, South Bank, London

One of the most famous exponents of the art was Robert Powell, who managed to stun 18th century crowds with his amazing feats of swallowing fire, red-hot coals, melted sealing wax and even brimstone.

Performing in front of British and other European royalty and nobility, Powell was active for nearly sixty years and in 1751 was awarded a purse of gold and a large silver medal for his services.

[Fire eating]