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Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Lost Lockhart

Henry James Lockhart (real name Locker) was an elephant trainer/presenter born to Sam and Hannah Lockhart in 1861 in London. Henry, known mainly as Harry, was the youngest of the Lockhart brothers. His elder brothers, George and Sam worked together as bareback horse riders and tumblers in the circus before a riding accident broke George’s hip and severed the brothers’ working relationship. Sam sought his fortune at the tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), but impressed by the locals’ work with elephants decided to embark on a career as an elephant trainer, which brought him back to the world of circus and Music Hall. Having recovered from his injury George followed suite and developed his own elephant act. Both these brothers became very famous in their own time, in Europe, Russia and the USA. A descendent of theirs, James Pinder has argued that jealousy inspired the elder brother, George, to become an elephant trainer and it is implied his desire to match his brother’s celebrity status, which he almost did, drove him to the tragic end that saw him crushed to death by an elephant at Walthamstow goods yard. What is rarely talked about, however, is the life of the last brother who met a tragic and far earlier demise than George.