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: email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This photograph now in the collection, recently came to light. It came from Lancashire, but could be any of the Hippodromes around the country. E H Bostock built and bought several Hippodromes between the years 1900 – 1918 including Norwich, Ipswich and Glasgow. It does not seem to be any of those though, unless it is the second of the two theatres that were known as the Hippodrome in Norwich. It may also be a group of people that visited from a company, etc., although I seem to have seen the man on the far left, middle row before now. Arthur Feeley the elephant handler, maybe? Some of the others appear familiar too, but the fashion of sporting a ‘tash‘ around that time does not assist recognition!
If you recognize anyone or the Hippodrome please do get in touch. It is a high resolution photograph. Click the photograph to zoom in. Good luck!
PS: If anyone recognizes the toffee tin being held up, centre back row, then let me know that too!
George Wombwell menagerie ‘fostered’ many talented showmen, performers, trainers, etc. One such showman was James Chittock’s father, originally an apprentice baker in Norwich, and at 18 left to become an animal trainer with George Wombwell’s Menagerie. He stayed the next 20 years! When that show dispersed, he began on his own with, rather strangely, performing canaries, hares and ponies. James was born in 1841 and brought up in the business and was well known by George Wombwell. When old enough, James left his family, married, and travelled with his own show. James and his shows are described in the text Travelling Cinematograph Show by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith.
In “TheShowman” he was described as being from one of the “oldest and most representative families of the aristocracy of the road.” His first show featured his famous troupe of performing dogs and monkeys, considered the best travelling. It opened at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, each winter for over 30 years, and rarely travelled far from the London area. On seeing the success Randall Williams was having with his Cinematograph at the World’s Fair in 1896, James Chittock invested £500 and began to show moving pictures using a projector acquired from R.W. Paul, his first show being at a fair in Birmingham in 1897. He claimed that so popular was the new enterprise that he netted, in coppers, £40 a day.
The following rare photograph shows James Chittock’s Dog and Monkeys show entrance, probably prior to 1897, the year he turned his attention to the newly invented Cinematograph. (The rear of the card states ‘@FPS Chittock’s animal show. 1885.’)
The Chittocks are also related through marriage to the Chipperfield family.
It has been a while since I published anything. However, I have been very busy researching travelling menageries. I am currently conducting a research project at the University of London on the subject of early travelling menageries and associated visual culture. That’s why I have not published articles here. It has uncovered a wealth of information and that will keep me going for several years I think! One day, I hope to announce that we can say we ‘know’ the early history of George Wombwell the menagerist. Included in this will be an account of the so called ‘Warwick Dog Fight’. I have some surprises in store for you all on that subject! Right now, I have to concentrate on the matters in hand.
A postcard sized coloured advert for Barnham and Sanger outfits (1882)
I have also been busy collecting items associated with the subject and also with early circuses like Sanger’s. Below is the first batch of items that will, in due course be added to the research website. A short description is attached to each item. Sometimes I have to rely on the originator’s description which may not be 100% accurate. As always, higher resolution images have been stored.The card shows Barham, Sanger and Hutchinson together with a procession including the Lion Queen on the elephant from Sanger’s outfit (his wife Ellen). Eventually, after about 1880 the Barnum outfit became known as Barnum & Bailey’s. The original poster would represent some time between 1881-1887 after which date Hutchinson retired. His main job was as booking agent and he had worked for Van Amburg’s some time during the 1870s.
The postcard is much later of course and some ‘granny’ must have received it hand delivered!
This undated card is thought to be from Paris.
This card shows a ‘Black Comic Parade’ and is marked 1904. Its origin is not yet known.
The card was sent from Brussels during 1904 or it may be 1922-23. I’m no philatelist! Research is required to place this troupe in the history of entertainment and identity studies.
Here is another cracking image from the Goose Fair in Nottingham showing Bostock and Wombwell’s presence in the centre of the city during the early 1900s. Note the juxtaposition between the outfit and the statue of Queen Victoria, fascinating! The menagerie was always centre stage when it went to the fair.