Bostock Arena: Where was this building?

UPDATE: The whereabouts of this building has now been solved. It was part of the Franco-British Exhibition at White City in London during 1908. It’s architecture fits with the rest of the site, which went on to hold the Olympic Games and is on the same location  where the former BBC Centre still stands. A diary belonging to Kate Frye describes a visit to the Zoo back in 1914. By this date the site had become the Anglo-American Exhibition, which was cut short due to the outbreak of war.

Then John and I by tube to the White City and there we strolled about. I was dead tired and had the rat horribly until we had some dinner when I revived a bit but felt anything but lively and walked about in rather a dead fashion. We did not try many side shows and they were failures. Bostocks Zoo – heaps of performing lions but all very sad. We missed most of it as we went there last but we saw the poor dears fed. We also saw some wonderful racing on a miniature motor track, but John was seized with a panic fear so we came out.  Saturday July 11th 1914

There is every reason to believe that Frank Bostock was responsible for its existence during 1914 as he had returned from America and had exhibited his menagerie under the billing ‘Bostock’s Arena’ as in his Coney Island site in New York.

End

A new addition to the collection gives us a problem as to its location. It is not the Arena in New York’s Coney Island. Nor is it the Arena at Earl’s Court in London. A clue to its whereabouts is in the writing from the sender of the original card:

‘Dear Win this is part of the YMCA It is a big place’,  plus a franked impression marked PADDINGTON.

The other places considered are Glasgow and Sheffield, but it does not have the same architecture of either sites. It is certainly a permanent structure though.

I can see it possibly being in London, but there is no record I have found on its location. It had a full uniformed staff as well. Any information is appreciated including the possible architect, etc.

Bostock: Picakard’s Scrapbooks

Taken from the Stories page of these scrapbooks about Glasgow entertainments, it contains a wealth of information about E H Bostock and the Glasgow Zoo up to around 1910 -1911. It makes some interesting reading and I thank the University of Glasgow for bringing it to our attention.

The Britannia Music Hall had already been open for half a century on Glasgow’s Trongate by the time A. E. Pickard took it over. Under his management, the Britannia reopened in July 1906, now called “the Britannia Theatre of Varieties and Grand Panopticon” and incorporating a museum, freak-show and zoo. Presenting four shows daily, at 2pm, 4pm, 7pm and 9pm, the Panopticon was a prime music hall venue, at a time when that form was thriving. The scrapbooks give valuable insights into the music hall business in Scotland, as Pickard kept an eye on the competition and documented his own publicity. Acts booked for the Panopticon included singers, dancers and comics, while the Museum, in addition to its permanent displays and topical waxworks, featured novelty acts of a more bizarre nature.

Use the search facility to see the relevant pages on Bostock.

Pickard

Mrs Wombwell: A Rare Photograph

Ann Wombwell, hand tinted photograph, private collection, circa 1880

OK, so you have all seen the photograph of Mrs Wombwell (Morgan) from the Bostock programmes and elsewhere, but have you ever seen it like this before:Published by kind permission of the owners.

Here’s also a comparison from the recently added B&W programme.

I am promised a better quality copy in the future. It’s nice to know that these photographs still exist.

 

Artefacts: Some New Additions

The following have been added to the reseacrh website and collection:

A postcard showing the view of some of the cages with lions and lionesses. Appeared at Earl’s Court and around the UK, especially Sheffield.

Postcard from Frank Bostock’s Arena, Coney Island, New York, USA, showing Polar Bears with unknown, rather camp male trainer. More information is sought.

Lowly Entertainer circa 1900 ‘Poor Billey’ also labelled ‘King of the Ring’. Thought to be Billy[Spell] Bertram, a lowly comedian circa 1890s. Had a reputation for being a ‘Jonah’, whereby he would have a part in a production which immediatley went bust!  The dramatist George R Simms wrote an article about Bertram under the title Without the Limplight .
Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, February 5, 1899; Issue 2933. Reproduced here by permission the the British Library under their normal terms of usage. More information is sought regarding the phrase ‘King of the Ring’.

Help Required: Photographs from Selby, Yorkshire

E H Bostock probably with Dixie the elephant around 1932

Prince LawdTanno (Spell) known to have been travelling with a menagerie and circus around 1905. Probably a lion tamer modelled on Montarno the African Lion King. Known to have travelled with Chipperfield’s French Menagerie during the early twentieth century.

Waggon containig two lions and possibly a seated trainer or keeper, also at Selby circa 1930. Not a typical B&W waggon, so it is also probably a Sanger outfit.

The following photographs have been sent to us for dating and for any other information. I have added my comments underneath each photograph, but would welcome further information via the comments section at the bottom of the post or via email: shaun.everett1@gmail.com

Thank you for your interest in this project about the local history of Selby in Yorkshire. My thanks to Mr Chilvers for providing the original photographs.

Rare view of B&W booth at Selby during 1931. This must have been one of the last times it visited the town or anywhere else, given it disbanded the following year. Shows the poor condition of the booth front.

At Selby, showing a group of Dancing Bears on the left of the picture performing for the local population. Unknown group and date. Information would be welcome.

 

Bostock and Wombwell Photographs

I recently asked if ‘This is the Enigmatic Mrs Wombwell?

  Well I have another clue to her identity which appeared on the front of a B&W Menagerie Programme from the late 18th century (exact date unknown). It also contained the Bostocks (E.H. and Mrs Bostock) and an early impression of George Wombwell. There’s no reasons to believe these are not the right photographs as they are printed on the B&W programme. I have to say my impresion of Mrs Wombwell (Ann Wombwell/Ann Morgan) is that she appears quite fierce, a bit like her lions I suppose. Is there any chance this Mrs Wombwell is the same person as in the last blog entry? Only you can decide that outcome.

The last picture is from inside the programme. Other inside images are available on request.

 

Posters: Auctioned Posters come to light

Do you know anything about these posters that were auctioned?

The first appears to show animals coming in two by two as in Noah’s Ark. Did Bostock ever put on a show about the Ark?

The second appears to be a large hall somewhere. The tickets across the front are seperate and not printed on the posters. Both show 28th October and the town of Wigan, but cannot find a reference to B&W being at Wigan.

Any comments are gratefully received.

Thanks to the reader that drew our attention to them.

Close Shave for Malmesbury Landlord!

At least that is what I imagine the headlines in the local newspaper would have looked like if ever this photograph was published. Sent to me by the owner, apparently it shows the local barber known as Billy Weedon shaving the head the landlord of the George Hotel (Mr George Gay) in one of Bostock and Wombwell’s lion cages with two lions on the loose in the cage. The owner has kindly given permission for the publication on the blog. The date is said to be 5th July 1930 and must represent one of the last travelling menageries before they folded just two years later. Malmesbury is in Wiltshire, England.

If anyone wants further information I can pass your details to the owner of the photograph.

Carte de Visite: Mdlle Sherazade and her Performing Elephants

One of the most popular uses that the Victorians made of the new photography technology was the Carte de Visite. Millions of them were produced throughout the world. They are though, rare in the Menageries and Circus world, but Edmunds, the proprietor of Wombwell’s after ‘Mrs’ Wombwell retired, made use of them for his acts. One such act was Mdlle Sherazade and her elephants. Billed as the only Lady Elephant Trainer in Europe, she came, probably from Brussels around 1884. Edmunds was known to have even sold off an elephant already in the menagerie to make way for Sherazade’s two performing elephants. She even married the other animal trainer in the Menagerie and also trained big cats as well. This carte is now in the collection.

A full report will be entered on the research website in due course.

 

Book: Ipswich Hippodrome by Terry Davis and Trevor Morson

Whilst concerning ourselves with Hippodrome theatres, this book caught my eye a few weeks ago. Published in 2005, it covers the years 1905 – 1985 and provides a history of the building and the variety acts that ‘trod the boards’ during that period. I of course, am interested in the early years when it was owned by E H Bostock the Menagerist. Indeed, it was even built by him in double quick time.

Ipswich already had a Hippodrome of sorts, a temporary wooden structure on the Woodbridge Road that contained a circus ring and therefore a potential rival for Bostock’s main business. He received information that the current Hippodrome was to be rebuilt which provided Bostock with some urgency for a completely new theatre. He chose Frank Matcham the well known theatre architect, of London Coliseum and London Hippodrome fame, to provide the plans. These plans were submitted for planning permission on the 19th September 1904. One month later and the foundation stone had been laid in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich after several houses had been pulled down to make way for the new theatre. E H Bostock was not going to hang around waiting obviously! It was opened during 1905, long before the rival theatre and became known as the Ipswich Hippodrome.
The book is a good read, but is quite scarce. It may be available via Amazon on occasions at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0954715918/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=0954715918&linkCode=as2&tag=estubookonli-21&linkId=A3TRWSDYOT3OZCJG