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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Memories of Clacton



My memories of Clacton in 1982 are a hazy mixture of imagination, Spider-Man, Superman and Batman costumes, the smell of jacket potatos mixed with the salty air, a huge amount of freedom that would shock today's helicoptor parents, a videogame arcade, fairground rides, Dracula ice lollies, adventures around a caravan site, losing at least one milk tooth and many, many other things that concern a five year old turning six. I was a circus kid and our circus had stopped touring.

Around me raged drama, anxiety, laughter, conflict and all the trappings of the great traditional circus in its last valiant death throes; spectucular live performances juxtaposed against a world set for change but not quite there yet. My father's dreams and my mother's nostalgia.

We were working in buidings now, like our cultural ancestors in the Victorian era. Back then temporary circus buildings were replaced by permanent structures like the Hippodrome in anticipation of ever-growing circuses. Now we had swapped in our canvas to work in ice rinks, theatres and pavillion buildings. We arrived just two years into the pier being bought by a consortium of businessmen who sought to bring back the dolpinarium and renovate the old Jolly Roger building. Apparently this would be the last performance given at the building. Now,  in 2017, the old structure is about to host a circus again.

My father recently discussed our time at Clacton. Here are his words:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Salt and Sauce in London?

My attention was recently brought to the website of the long established and renowned Circus History Society in the USA.  A message had been posted up their message enquiring after the identities and verification of two elephants who temporally lived in London.

 4417. Elephants WWII, 22 Sep 2014 - I know this might sound ridiculous, but I believe it to be true. I am not sure whether it was during the war or just after. I was child then, but two circus elephants were housed in garages in Hendon Park Row, Temple Fortune, London NW11. Our flat overlooked the garages and I do remember this - once I even knew the names of the elephants! People don't believe me though and I would like to authentic this. I think they were from Billy Smart's Circus, but I could be wrong. I guess circus animals were housed somewhere safe during the war, although bombs dropped nearby because of the proximity of Hendon Aerodrome. Would anyone have a record of circus animals' whereabouts at that time? I hope you can help, kind regards, Jean Hall (Mrs)

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Mystery of the Elephant Skeleton






One of the many mysteries that I encountered when I began my research into the story of Salt and Sauce the elephants was the nature of the disease that infected their original group. Now a recently published article in volume 17, issue 3 of the journal, "Veterinary History", might shed some light on this subject. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

War Elephants Myth Debunked

Heads of asian and african elephants
Heads of asian and african elephants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I appreciate I am very late in here, but I was going through my archive emails and noticed this interesting piece of history. When I began collating my various pieces of research together and got down to writing my book, "The Legend of Salt and Sauce", I was immediately struck by how linked my story was to the history of domesticated elephants. Salt and Sauce were part of George Lockhart Snr's second group of elephants. Both he and his younger brothers (Sam and Harry) had established their reputations as elephant trainers, and the world of the turn of 20th century was abuzz with elephant acts. The methods being employed to create these performances had their roots tied up in the domestication of Asian elephants. African elephants were trained too and would also become popular much later in the 20th century, but at the time they did not have good a reputation for domestication.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Don't Turn Your Back on the Sawdust Ring


 Circus Mania” is a much needed dispassionately written book on the British circus scene. In order for this institution to survive, thrive and regain mainstream respectability in the media it needs journalistic appraisal, insight and critique.  The author, theatrical journalist Douglas McPherson, explains in his introduction that he had only a “fragmentary” memory of his time watching the circus as a child. After that he had no connection with the circus whatsoever, admitting to the common middle-class prejudice of believing that circuses were bygone vestiges of animal abuse. Therefore, when “The Stage” newspaper asked him to review The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus’s 100th anniversary show, he came to the current British circus scene with fresh eyes. It was here where he met and interviewed the lovely Eva Garcia who would fall to her death at the very beginning of her cloud swing act just one day after his review was published. His experience at the show and meeting those who worked there inspired him to further investigate the British circus scene. McPherson had noticed that beside the behemoth institution that is Cirque du Soleil, it was rare for the performing arts world to take any notice of this very British showbusiness institution outside of the negative publicity targeted at animal circuses by their protesters.




Monday, 14 July 2014

The Legend of Salt and Sauce Third Edition!


I hope this post isn't premature, but I have finally got round to looking into producing the third edition of "The Legend of Salt and Sauce". At this present time I am going back through my research and contacting the various people who helped my father and I in the development of the book. If anyone reading this blog can assist, please do not hesitate in emailing me. I hope to include new contemporary illustrations and photographs of the various elephants mentioned in the book as well various writing revisions and hopefully some new information. This time I wish the book to be available in electronic format as well as printed form, allowing it to stay print.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Dame Laura Knight's Salt and Saucy

 Recently I was delighted to finally see Dame Laura Knight's etching of Salt and Sauce, entitled Salt and Saucy at Islington Hall. The picture is documented in my book, The Legend of Salt and Sauce, but this is the first time I have seen the actual etching. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only piece of art based on or inspired by Salt and Sauce besides the various writings that mention them (Rupert Croft-Cooke, George Lockhart Jnr, Ruth Manning-Sanders and Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake).