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A woggle hopping obstacle in the wild. The picture is actually of a red postbox in Wiltshire on a pretty summer's day, but woggle hopping often involved postboxes
Photo credit: Ben Wicks, Unsplash

Customs uncovered: Woggle Hopping

Can woggle hopping be classed as a British custom? Probably not, but it still deserves a mention as an eccentric activity that briefly caught the public imagination.

You’ve heard of dwile flonking, but have you ever burrowed your considerable intellect into the rather specialist world of woggle hopping? No? Well, allow us to indulge you.

In this article you’ll find…

What is woggle hopping?

Woggle hopping is the practice of leaping over something that is roughly the height of your woggle. The object in question can be anything you like, providing it offers the requisite height necessary to increase your heart rate when leaping it.

There’s no limit to this.

George Corner

George Corner, believed to be the originator of woggle hopping, claimed to have woggle-hopped a car and a land mine (although questions must be asked about the validity of the land mine: most garden variety land mines do not reach the height of a woggle). Videos of Corner show him hopping postboxes with great glee and dexterity.

In practice, woggle hopping resembles leap-frogging. We’d also go so far as to suggest that it may be an early example of parkour.

What is a woggle?

A woggle, for those wondering, is a fastener developed in the 1920s for closing and holding together the ends of a neckerchief traditionally worn by the Scouts.

Who was George Corner?

Born in 1901, George Corner was a lifelong Scout who, upon graduating to Scout Master, insisted that his wards keep fit by leaping over things. He believed that being able to “hop” over any object that reached the height of your woggle would help maintain a healthy level of athleticism.

Towards the end of his life, Corner was the owner of a shoe shop in Batley. He came to national prominence during the 1960s, traveling the UK and giving demonstrations of his lifelong obsession to a baffled but seemingly delighted public. Photo archives exist showing his predilection for hopping in Scouts uniform and various forms of fancy dress, often with humans as additional obstacles just to offer a little extra drama.

Was there anything George Corner refused to woggle-hop? If land mines proved no threat to him, you’d think not, but it turns out he had difficulties with certain pillar boxes. “I have to avoid the awkward ones with spikes on top and other obstacles, you know? I’m getting older but I want to live a little bit longer yet.”

Essentially a well-publicised leap-frogger, Corner can be credited with formalising the rules for this form of exercise (essentially: hop over something that reaches the height of your woggle), naming it, and bringing it to somewhat limited public awareness.

Marking George Corner’s death in 1979, Batley erected a memorial in their churchyard depicting the great man in mid-woggle-hop. A Victorian pillar box that he kept in his garden (donated to him by the Post Office) now resides at the Colne Valley Postal History Museum.

Is woggle hopping really a British custom?

In a word, no. There’s very little evidence to show that it ever caught on, and there are no regular events dedicated to it. However, that doesn’t mean to say it should be forgotten. As slightly eccentric activities go, we think woggle hopping is up there with shin kicking. Perhaps it’s time for a revival. The appeal for an officially-recognised National Woggle Hopping Day starts here.