The Enigmatic Return of Spring Heeled Jack Liverpool

Victorian Liverpool was a gas-lit metropolis full of dark alleys and shadowy, tree lined streets. Into such a city sprang a notorious criminal monster, the terrifying Spring-heeled Jack. Already responsible for many attacks, often on young women in London and across the country, he was likened to the devil and wore a black cape over a white oilskin outfit. Described as having red glowing eyes, he was known to spit blue flames into the faces of his victims before clawing at them with the long metal nails he was said to wear. When challenged, he would spring away, often taking giant leaps to evade capture. He was last sighted on the roof of St Francis Xavier’s Church in Langdale Street in Liverpool in 1904. He leapt away, evaporated into the night and simply ceased to exist…or did he?

On Sunday the 31st  of August we are challenged to find out. A partnership between Hope Street Ltd. And The Suitcase Ensemble aim to bring the infamous bogeyman back to life. Beginning at the church where he was last seen, the people of Liverpool are invited to witness the rebirth of one of the Victorian era’s most amazing urban myths. Through the mediums of dance, storytelling, puppetry and music the aim is to invoke the spirit of Jack during a procession of performances through Everton’s streets, culminating in a triumphant finale in Everton Park, Heyworth Street. Beginning at 3pm in Langdale Street, the entertainment will continue until 6pm.

Working with 8 community groups of all ages, the organisers have explored the story with the local community to produce the multi-faceted representation of this enduring folk tale. Suitable for all age groups, the work forms part of the Emerging Artists Program run by Hope Street Ltd. The performers have been mentored by professional artists, who have developed their skills and given advice and support to the young artists as they move into the performance arts as a career. The music ranges from classical works to the more modern music of The Shrewsbury House Band.

If, like me, you find Victorian Gothic tales of the supernatural a lot of fun, this seems like the event for you. If, however, you just fancy somewhere entertaining to take the kids for the afternoon that won’t break the bank, this free event is just the ticket. Liverpool again shows it can provide inclusive and exciting community based projects to entertain the whole family.

Roxy Gillespie