Roll up, roll up…a visit from the Great United States Circus

Life in Victorian Birmingham could be a hard slog but scanning the notices in local newspapers of the day reveals a great variety of entertainment was available to suit all tastes. Some events, such as the great concerts at the Town Hall, were highbrow and clearly targeted an audience from the wealthier suburbs. But there was fun to be had too, railway excursions and theatre matinees could be enjoyed by many and would doubtless offer a welcome escape from mundane daily rituals.  The arrival of the circus, in particular, must have represented a great community event. Performances were offered at different times of the day and seat prices available to suit most pockets. In the advert below there is also an offer of free entry for children from charity schools.

On Friday January 8th, 1858, the Birmingham Daily Post carried an advertisement for Howes and Cushing’s Great United States Circus – from the 1840s onwards, a number of American circuses toured Britain, often offering equestrian displays.

Howes and Cushing's Circus, England, 1858

HOWES AND CUSHING’S
GREAT UNITED STATES CIRCUS

IS NOW OPEN, in the new circular and commodious Brick building, Moor Street for a short time only.

WITH THE LARGEST AND MOST TALENTED
EQUESTRIAN COMPANY IN THE WORLD
________

TWO PERFORMANCES DAILY, viz.
at two o’clock p.m.; evenings at half-past Seven. Doors open
one hour previous
________

This day and evening the whole of the Company will be introduced, together with

Mr. J. Robinson
The Premier Equestrian of the age
Musical Director
Mr. Chas. Ehrmann
For particulars, see Programmes
________

Admission (prices reduced for Winter season) Boxes, ONE SHILLING; Gallery SIXPENCE; Reserved seats TWO SHILLINGS. Children half- price to Day performances in Box and Reserved seats only. Half price to the Reserved seats at Nine o’clock.

Mr. BRUNELL RUNNELLS, the Great American Four and Six Horse Rider, and MR. ARTHUR BARNES, the Champion Vaulter of the World, will appear on MONDAY EVENING NEXT.
The Committees of Charitable Schools of the Town are respectfully informed that the children under their care will be admitted Free to the Day performances by giving one day’s notice.

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