Skip to main content

Circus Ginnett (Established c1800)



  • Existence: Established c1800 - 1800


Circus Ginnett started with Jean Pier Ginnett (1798-1861) who was in the French cavalry, where he developed excellent horsemanship skills. After being captured during the Napoleonic wars he was brough to England, where he remained afterwards and joined the circus with a small animal show. The show grew from a single act to the birth of Circus Ginnett, which after Jean Pier’s death passed to his son John Frederick Ginnett (1825-1892) and later to his grandsons Claude, Frederick Emile and Albert. By the 1890s Ginnetts had become one of the most significant circuses in Britain and continued operating until the 1930s despite the First World War and the difficulties experienced by the requisition of animals and equipment, and the conscription of men.

Between the 1930s and 1940s the circus declined and operated on and off, until its final closure. During this period most of its assets, which included two theatres, were donated to Brighton City Council. After the dismantlement of the circus, the family dispersed to continue working in other circuses until in 1989 Michael Austin, a fifth generation Ginnet and owner of Mike Austin Circus, revived the family circus with his wife Jounita and his children Patrick and Nina.

Eventually, Patrick and his son Luke took over the business from Michael and travelled widely around the UK, Europe and Asia.

Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:

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 Photographs, 1953 - 1992

Reference code: 178C108.974-1170
Scope and Contents

Colour and black and white photographs of Jay Miller's Circus, Mike Austin's Circus, Gerry Cottle's Circus, Robert Brothers Circus, Chipperfield's Circus, Circus Krone, Circus Paulos and Gandey's Circus including tents, performers and acts, also Bertam Mills and Blackpool Tower Circus posters, circus enthisiast events, circus models, also a wedding at Galaxy Circus.

Dates: 1953 - 1992

Circus Photographs, 1910 - 1964

Reference code: 178C108.5141-5337
Scope and Contents Black and white and some colour photographs of circus scenes, animals, people and personalities including; Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Dame Laura Knight, Bertram Mills, Cyril Mills, Winston Churchill, Coco, Whimsical Walker, A. Pearson equestrian director at Bertram Mills Circus, Percy Huxter, Lulu Adams, Cissie Rosaire, Aubry Rosaire and Zena Rosaire, also Rosaire Circus, Bertam Mills Circus, Tom Arnold's Circus, Ginnett's and Fossett's Circus and a large Barnum shows...
Dates: 1910 - 1964

Early Circus Scrapbook, 1876 - 1893

Reference code: 178G21.77
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings and black and white illustrations, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Sanger's, Ginnett's and Barnum's, 80p.p.

Dates: 1876 - 1893

Early Circus Scrapbook, 1879 - 1898

Reference code: 178G21.78
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, programmes and black and white illustrations, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Barnum's, Chiarini's Royal Italian Circus, Ginnett's and Sanger's, 128p.p.

Dates: 1879 - 1898

Fossett Circus and Ginnett and Fossett Circus Programmes, 1940 - 1980

Reference code: 178K43.626
Scope and Contents

Fossett Circus programmes including Jimmy Fossett's Circus, Ginnett and Fossett and Fossett Brothers Circus, containing black and white and colour photographs of acts and performers, text, programme and commercial advertising.

Dates: 1940 - 1980

Photographs and Postcards, c1800 - 1999

Reference code: 178C108
Scope and Contents

Black and white and colour photographs, negatives and photographic albums mainly containing images of British circus, circus performers, animals and circus personalities but also some menageries such as Bostock and Wombwell and other associated entertainments and non-British circuses taken by David Jamieson, Lindsay Temple, Den Curtis, Capt. Middleton, Jack Niblett and other photographers.

Dates: c1800 - 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