LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Russells International Circus putting up the big top

A massive poster campaign announced the first visit of Russells International Circus to Wymondham in Norfolk at the beginning of June. They had a glorious sunny, windless day to put up the big top in a corner of Kett’s Park, beside the leisure centre, as I found when I dropped by to take these pictures.

With the four king poles standing, the fixed-shape uppermost part of the tent, the cupola, waits on the back of a truck while the tent men hammer in the surrounding stakes.

With the tent attached to the cupola, the big top is slowly winched aloft, by hand.

  In the sunshine of a warm Monday evening, the circus stands built... and waiting. The show doesn’t open until Wednesday. The queues, music and hoopla are two days away and an almost eerie stillness hangs over the lorries, caravans and tent. The circus - indeed the whole park - appears deserted and silent. But not quite silent. From behind the big top a generator rumbles quietly, like a sleeping heartbeat. Beside one of the caravans, a man sits tending a barbeque, the tang of charcoal scenting the air with the promise of the hotdog stand aroma to come. And in the dry and dusty empty car park a young man in a red t-shirt circles restlessly in the sunshine... atop a unicycle.
Russells International Circus - For latest dates and showtimes visit

Read about my backstage visits to, and interviews with the showmen and stars of top British circuses including the Circus of Horrors, Chinese State Circus, Great British Circus and Great Yarmouth Hippodrome in Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away with the Circus.
Click here to buy Circus Mania from Amazon.

"Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form." - Mail on Sunday.

"Gypsies know better than to mix it with the circus..."

- For more on circus transport, read Ingo Dock's account of moving the Chinese State Circus.

No comments:

Post a Comment