Before the time when circuses were banned from using animals, wild animals such as Elephants, were a frequent feature of the Circus when it visited Cirencester. The Circus would visit Ciren usually once a year and would set up in a field off the Gloucester road. There would always be a procession through the town – the elephants leading through the Market Place and down Dyer street towards the temporary quarters in Grove Lane. There is some talk that once upon a time, one of the visiting elephants took ill and was taken by its owner to the aptly named Red Lion Pub in Dollar Street on the corner of Spitalgate Lane for a drink. The record I have says it was hot water from the Pub’s boiler, that the elelphant was given; I’d like to think it was Beer. The Red Lion, which was once owned by the Cirencester Brewery, is no longer there, having closed around 1939. But the remains of the elephant however is rumoured to be buried somewhere in a field off what is now called Abbey Way.
Trips to the Circus were a feature of School trips; not just to Chipperfields (Giffords nowadays) when it was encamped up the Gloucester road, but further afield to see it in London. I remember being taken from Lewis Lane School on a train to Kemble and then to London to see Bertram Mills Circus at Olympia.
On the 6th May 1932 a different sort of Circus came to town in the form of a “Flying Circus”. Alan Cobham, a test pilot for the de Havilland aircraft company, had started what he called the National Aviation Day displays - a combination of barnstorming and joyriding which toured the country, calling at hundreds of sites, some of them regular airfields and some just fields cleared for the occasion. Ciren didn’t have an airfield as such, so Cobham used land off Grove Lane. But more about this in a later edition..
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