Sheffield & South Yorkshire

History of the circus marked at University of Sheffield exhibition

Posters and photos Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption The exhibition comes after the Circus Friends Association donated its archive to the university

An exhibition looking at the history of Britain's circuses has opened in Sheffield.

The collection of posters, programmes and photos, gathered over 80 years, documents the early travelling zoos to modern-day acrobatic shows.

It follows the donation of the Circus Friends Association (CFA) archive to the University of Sheffield.

The exhibition, called Spectacle & Wonder, runs at the university's Western Bank Library until 2 April.

The CFA, previously known as the Circus Fans' Association, was established in 1934 to promote the circus as part of British culture.

Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption Travelling menagerie is the term commonly used to describe early touring animal exhibitions, the University of Sheffield said

The university said the collection was "one of the most import circus archives in the United Kingdom".

It features items from some of Britain's most popular circus companies including Bertram Mills', Billy Smart's, Robert Brothers, Chipperfield's, Fossett's and Blackpool Tower.

Since the 19th century, animals were taken on tour as part of travelling menagerie's before they were later combined with traditional circus shows.

Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption The Bostock and Wombwell menagerie toured Britain in the early 20th century

Angela Haighton, from the University of Sheffield Library, said: "As a popular form of entertainment the circus is an significant part of our social history.

"The donation of this important collection means we can make it more widely accessible and preserve it for future generations."

Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption The exhibition runs until April at the Western Bank Library
Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption These workers are pictured taking a break while setting up the touring Bostock and Wombwell menagerie in the early 20th century
Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption The exhibition goes up to the present day, including images of Zippo's Circus taken in 2016
Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption Circus posters have evolved over the years, but bright colour schemes have been a regular theme
Image copyright Circus Friends Association
Image caption Elaborate acrobatic performances are a common sight during modern circus shows, including at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth

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