Blind Jack of Knares­bor­ough

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

HE has to be one of York­shire’s most re­mark­able and multi-tal­ented sons. John Met­calf was born in 1717, the son of a horse breeder. The fam­ily was poor, and dis­as­ter struck when the lad lost his sight to small­pox when he was six.

Re­al­is­ing the child had to earn his liv­ing, John was taught the fid­dle. By the time he was en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences at The Queen’s Head in Har­ro­gate, the teenager al­ready had the nick-name of Blind Jack of Knares­bor­ough. His chief claim to fame is as one of Bri­tain’s first civil engi­neers, su­per­vis­ing the lay­ing of scores of turn­pike roads through­out the North.

He died in 1810 at 93 and is buried in Spof­forth church­yard. But his statue sits cheer­fully in the mar­ket square of his home town, a cob­ble’s throw from the pub that is named af­ter him.

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