Monday, 10 October 2011

The Circus (No 2)

The Pump Rooms in Pittville Park, Cheltenham Spa
via wikipedia
Cheltenham is an historic spa town whose development started in the early 1700's with the discovery of healing waters.  It became very popular after the visit of King George III in 1788.
Today it is well known for hosting major annual Literature, Jazz, Science and Music festivals; featuring nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees.
In a tiny alleyway off the High Street in Cheltenham I found a mosaic wall featuring an event that happened in 1934.


Once upon a time the Circus came to town.
The wind band played....
the drummer banged and....
the Ringmaster proclaimed, roll up, roll up, for the elephants 
The girl in red.....
her brother and father
and their little dog jumped for joy.
Here come the elephants....
Suddenly, without warning, the elephants stampeded, enticed by the irresistable aroma drifting from Bloodworths Seed Merchants shop. One elephant entered the shop and another got half inside.
The elephant keeper struggled to get them out....
the local policeman watched with both alarm and amusement....
as did the spectators....
and the band played on.
courtesy Andrew Tomlinson - article and picture from the Gloucestershire Echo 1934


Change Of Diet Idea In Cheltenham

Three elephants from Chapman's London Zoo Circus were passing with two keepers along Albion-street, Cheltenham at lunch time today when opposite the shop of Bloodworth and Sons, seed merchants, a small stampede occurred, and one elephant finally entered the shop and another got half inside.
Even an elephant likes a change of diet, and Jumbo can be decidedly awkward when he plans to vary the menu himself.
Mr. W. T. Goodhall, manager of the shop was attending to his books when he heard shouting. Looking up he saw a giant shape shambling through the doorway.
Imagine his surprise when, with mind calmy engrossed with pounds, shillings and pence, in walks an elephant and without so much as a by your leave, helps itself to seed potatoes, dog biscuits, meal and other elephantine luxuries.
One of the keepers was unable to get in to the shop until the elephant, which completely filled the threshold, had entered. Once inside the keeper set about forcibly changing the elephants mind. His task was made more difficult for another elephant was already half way through the door.
The other, still in the road, was being kept under control, and after about five minutes of belabouring the intruders were evicted. Fortunately very little damage was done.

Gloucestershire Echo, Monday, March 26, 1934.
Link here for The Circus (No.1)


  1. A delightful story, and one that reminds me of the seagull from Aberdeen who regularly shoplifts Doritos.

    The mosaics are beautifully done. To achieve good face expressions as well as good shading shows the work of a fine artist. How great that someone decided to commission it!

  2. Yes, I have heard about that naughty seagull in Aberdeen Mark. My eldest son used to live there before he moved overseas.
    I was really surprised when I first discovered the mosaic because it is hidden up a small alleyway, which seems a shame as not not many people see it.

  3. What an amazing series of mosaics... you have captured them beautifully! And I did enjoy reading about the elephant invasion :-)

  4. Thanks Nat - when I discovered the mosaics I just had to photograph them, but did not have my camera on me at the time. I finally got round to doing it last week, and I am surprised how well they have come out.

  5. i love that the point of interest for the headline in the newspaper piece is the 'change of diet'. so understated and subtle compared to todays sensationalist tabloid journalism.

  6. Annette - you are so right. It has a quaintness about it compared with today, but a reminder of a bygone age.

  7. I love this!!!!!! What a lot of action in the mosaic, and I enjoyed the way you made it into a little story....(which was true!!) The mosaic colors are luscious. Beth

  8. Dear Beth - I am so pleased that you enjoyed this. I love the way the mosaic reflects the way people dressed in the 1930s - the policeman in his cape and helmet and the little girl in her matching hat and coat with velvet collar.

  9. A beautiful piece of work, I would love to see the complete image. The mosaic remains so fresh and the period detail is delightful. I like your story telling!

  10. Dear Rosemary - thank you for your comments. The mosaic is in 5 panels, and I have taken little bits of it to make the story. However, from photo No.7 showing the Ringmaster on the elephant and until the last image (apart from the policeman) that is the complete set of 5.

  11. when i was a little girl my dream was to join the circus... every time they came i was planning about ways i could be with them... the first picture of Cheltenham is magical...

  12. Dear Demie - I wrote another circus story on this blog in August about a local girl who ran away to join the circus. She now has her own circus, and is very successful.

  13. Rosemary this is a glorious post! Excellent storyboard with the images. Elephants loose on the high street? The 1930s really had it all!


  14. Thanks Bertie - there must have been lots of excitement when the elephants pushed through door of the shop in Cheltenham. The shop is still there apparently, but more of a pet food shop now.

  15. Foarte frumoase mozaicurile avand subiectul circ! Foarte frumos si articolul!

  16. Multumesc Marius - Mă bucur ţi-a plăcut mozaicuri circ.


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