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Barrett's Canadian Circus (1925 - 1956)



  • Existence: 1925 - 1956


Barrett’s Canadian Circus started with famous ringmaster’s father George Barrett (d.1960), show became interested in horses at his father’s iron and steel works in Bradford, through their use for transportation.

After his father and brother’s death George sold the family busine and bought a farm near York, where he started to train domestic animals such as dogs, geese and ponies. George met his future wife Winifred at a local dance and the couple married in 1921.

In 1925 George and Winifred briefly partnered up with Rosaire Circus and started to travel as Desmond and Barrett’s Amalgamated Monster Circus. The partnership dissolved a few months later and Barretts formed the Barrett’s Canadian Circus, travelling a show with a strong equine focus.

Six years after entering the circus business, George sold most of his animals and equipment to return to farming. Although his life as a circus impresario had finished, George still had a strong interest in training animals and from 1943 he focused on training and presenting dogs and horses for other shows.

George and Winifred had a son, Norman, born on 20 December 1935, who soon was introduced to the family’s trade and developed his father’s love for horses. In 1948, George decided to restart the Barrett’s Circus, where Norman started to present horses and dogs from the age of seventeen. Among the cast were Freddie and Olga Yelding and their daughter, Sue, a family of performers who had been instrumental to the Barrett’s family circus from its inception and would become even closer upon Norman’s and Sue’s marriage. Unfortunately, the Barrett’s Circus story was not to last, as it failed to succeed financially and was forced to close in 1952.

George tried to revive his circus once again in 1956 without success, he died four years later, in 1960.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Barrett's Circus Programmes, 1929 - 1956

Reference code: 178K43.667
Scope and Contents

Programmes for Barrett's Circus and Barrett's Great Canadian Circus containing monochrome illustrations of animals and clown and one with a colour illustration, some only text on the front cover, inside programme.

Dates: 1929 - 1956

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Circus Research Material, 1872 - 1975

Reference code: 178B30.1
Scope and Contents Photocopies of programmes from the London Hippodrome, the National Amphitheatre, Hengler's Circus, Olympia, Hagenbeck's Wonder Zoo and Big Circus, Barnum and Bailey, Paulo's Circus, Chapman's Circus, Rosaire's Circus, Grand Continental Circus at the Crystal Palace, Barrett's Canadian Circus, Cody's Continental Circus, Pinder's Royal Circus and Menagerie and other UK and international circuses, also photocopies of newspaper cuttings, ordenance survey, photographs of performers and posters,...
Dates: 1872 - 1975

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1795 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30
Scope and Contents

Compilation of monographs, articles, manuscripts and a range of research material about circus companies and performers in the United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world by various authors, the research was mainly compiled by Hal Thomas.

Dates: c1795 - 1999

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

Research Material on Various Circuses, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30.7
Scope and Contents

Colour photocopies of circus posters, one for Barrett's Circus and Zoo at Amlwch divided into three pages, one for Chapman's Great London Circus and three for unspecified circuses.

Dates: c1900 - 1999