Bertram Mills Circus

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Thread Topic: Bertram Mills Circus
Topic Originator: Mike Laughton
Post Date November 13, 2015 @ 9:19 PM
 Bertram Mills Circus
  Bertram Mills Circus
  Bertram Mills Circus
 Bertram Mills Circus/photo
 Bertram Mills Circus
 Bertram Mills Circus
 Bertram Mills Circus

Mike Laughton
November 13, 2015 @ 9:19 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

One of the highlights of my 1950s childhood in Stamford was the week the country's biggest circus came to town. It would have been about 1952 or 53.
Small touring circuses had been visiting Stamford every year throughout my childhood but now the famous Bertram Mills Circus - the biggest and best in the country - was coming here. The world famous circus run by the Mills family was based at London's Olympia most of the year and usually only toured to big cities; so Stamford was lucky to find itself on the schedule.
The big top was set up in a field at the bottom of Tinwell Road (one of farmer Barty Aldwinckle's I believe) and did fantastic business.
While some of the circus attractions arrived by road, most of it arrived by train and the fun began with a big parade through the town from Stamford Station to the Tinwell Road big top site.
Stamford had never seen anything like it - a parade of elephants, horses and colourful circus acts all led by the circus band.
Main attractions were the flying trapeze and lion tamers - acts which Stamfordians normally didn't get chance to see in the smaller circuses. But the main stars were the legendary Coco the Clown and an act called Borra the King of pickpockets who would pull men from the audience and proceed to relieve them of their wallets, pocket diaries, spectacles and even their braces.
I met Borra in a nightclub in Split in Yugoslavia (now Croatia) in 1973. He was still performing the same act. I told him I had seen him with Bertram Mills circus in the 1950s when I was a small boy. He was Hungarian and spoke very little English.
Bertram Mills circus only came to Stamford on the one occasion. But it was something the townsfolk remembered and talked about for years afterwards. Anyone else remember it?

November 16, 2015 @ 8:17 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Mike, I remember it well, if you remember, the train arrived sometime around 12 noon on a week day, my friend Robert Farrell and me walked down from St. Augustines R.C. school to see the arrival and needless to say, we stopped to watch every thing unloaded and had a great time, I think we went back to school about two hours late, none of the staff were very pleased about it.
It was well worth the stinging fingers though.

Roger Partridge
November 19, 2015 @ 8:46 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

I remember going to see Bertram Mills circus, but I thought it was in 1955/6 as in 1952/3 I would only have been  no older than 4.

Peter Leatherbarrow
December 4, 2015 @ 9:21 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

I've got a photo of it in the field beside Tinwell Road, somewhere, I'll try and find it and post it. In the photo you can see across the Welland valley that the A1 is being built so that dates it to the mid to late 1950's.

Roger Partridge
December 15, 2015 @ 9:25 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Bertram Mills Circus only just survived into the 1960s. In March 1965 all the vehicles and equipment were auctioned off

Keith Hansell
December 20, 2015 @ 11:02 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Mike, your say Stamford had never seen anything like it before. In the late 1800's all the circus's that came to the town had a grand parade during the day, with the band, animals and large show wagons. The largest of these was Lord George Sanger. When they moved from town to town their road train was reputed to be two miles long. Peter, I too have some photo's of Bertram Mills in Tinwell road but  not dated. I also have a photo of Sir Robert Fossetts circus on Tinwell Rd dated 1958. It was his elephants that my mother took me to see being walked from the station to Tinwell Rd. When I was taken to the show a couple of nights later, the black panthers were the star animals.

Peter Leatherbarrow
April 23, 2016 @ 2:05 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Found this on You Tube - memories!