Jackson was born in Canada but moved to Barrow-in-Furness, England, with his parents at the age of three. He played rugby league at school but his first senior rugby experience came in union after he took up an apprenticeship at a shipyard. He switched to league when he was offered professional terms by Barrow in 1950 at the age of 18.
With Barrow, where he was known as the 'Prince Among Centres', he played in three Challenge Cup finals in the 1950s. Injury forced him to retire in 1959 but he later moved to Australia and was tempted back into playing by the Goulburn Workers Club in New South Wales. He took up coaching after retiring and eventually settled in Wagga Wagga.