LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The elephant and the tram

Perhaps this pachyderm thought the tram was going to Piccadilly Circus...

The picture, taken in 1936, is one of hundreds of fascinating vintage photos in the Time Out book London Through A Lens. The caption reminds us that elephants weren’t uncommon in London before World War Two, with many appearing in theatre shows. In 1846, the City of London Theatre borrowed two elephants from a Paris circus to star in a play specially written around the tricks they could perform. Animals were first introduced to the London stage as early 1788 by actor and theatre manager John Kemble.

as I drew him in
Circus Mania!
This isn’t the only elephant in the book. There’s also a fine shot, from 1870, of Jumbo, the most famous circus elephant of them all and possibly the most famous circus name of all time. After all, what other big top star’s name became a noun in the English language, other than the 11-foot-tall rubber mule that PT Barnum bought from London Zoo and made so famous that his moniker became a new word for big? Think of him next time you next time you eat a jumbo sausage or see a jumbo jet.

Read more about Jumbo in my review of Jumbo - The Greatest Elephant in the World.

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