CHAMPION COLUMN | The Flying Pieman landed in Liverpool

The Liverpool Asylum for Infirm and Destitute Men dominated Liverpool for over 100 years and 10,000 men and boys were inmates in the grandest building in Liverpool, now Liverpool TAFE opposite Bigge Park. Designed by Francis Greenway, it was built by convicts and completed in 1830.

One inmate was William Francis King -- the Flying Pieman. There's been a Flying Pieman festival, a comic, pie shops and Flying Pieman Park at Campbelltown.

King was born in London in 1807. He arrived at Sydney in 1829 and was appointed schoolmaster at Sutton Forest. After some years as a private tutor at Campbelltown and as a barman at the Hope & Anchor in Sydney, he emerged as the super-athletic and extravagantly dressed Flying Pieman.

He was one of Sydney's famous street characters, wandering about selling pies and issuing rambling proclamations. He sold pies to passengers on the Parramatta ferry at Circular Quay then walked furiously to Parramatta to sell more pies to them as they got off.

By 1871, he was in Liverpool asylum: "The Flying Pieman has been in this institution nearly four months. He's as odd as ever and has a scheme for benefitting the institution by performing on the top of the asylum. He reads the papers to a crowd of inmates daily."

He died there on August 10, 1873. He's buried in a pauper's grave at Pioneer Memorial Park with no monument. Time there was.

Glen op den Brouw is president of Liverpool & District Historical Society

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