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Sanger's Allied Circus (Established 1854)

 Organisation

Dates

  • Existence: Established 1854

Biography

Sanger's Allied Circus was the first circus venture of brothers George and John Sanger.

The two brothers grew up on the fairground, working in the family’s peep show. In 1848 they bought some canaries and mice and trained them for exhibition. This humble beginning into animal performance within the fairground scene and their business ambition, built up to the formation of the Sanger's Allied Circus in 1854 at the King’s Lynn Charter Fair, which they operated with a few family members and friends. This small outfit was a far cry from what the Sanger name will became in the showmen community and history, but grew from strength to strength and by 1858 Sanger’s circus could boast of presenting the largest stud of horses ever seen in the European continent and visited over two hundred towns in a nine-month season, giving two shows a day. By the 1860s the Sanger emporium owned ten permanent circuses between Plymouth and Aberdeen.

One of the brothers’ popular shows was the pantomime ‘Lady Godiva’ featuring a well-known equestrienne, Ellen Chapman (1831-1899).

In 1856 George and John started added wild animals to their shows and two years later they had six lions and ten elephants.

The Sanger brother’s expansion into the circus business continued with the acquisition of two of the most famous and reputable circus venues in London; the Royal Agricultural Hall at Islington in 1870 and Astley’s New Royal Amphitheatre in 1871, which they bought from William Batty’s widow.

By this point Sanger's Circus travelling road train was said to be two miles long and reputedly had around ten wagons to carry the tent and seating, a lamp wagon, eight or ten living carriages, a foal wagon, ten wild animal wagons, a harness wagon, a portable blacksmith's forge, property wagons, wardrobe and dressing wagons, a band carriage and at least six great tableau parade cars.

From 1874 Sanger also presented tenting shows on the Continent for fifteen seasons, travelling up to 160 horses, eleven elephants, a dozen camels and about 330 staff.

George and John eventually decided to go their separate ways and split their various business ventures amicably.

Found in 17 Collections and/or Records:

Articles and Monographs, c1880 - 1899

 Series
Reference code: 178B39
Scope and Contents

Script for Cinderella and Life of George Sanger booklets.

Dates: c1880 - 1899

Circus Friends Association Collection

 Fonds
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 Friends Association of Great Britain's Notes Scrapbook, 1953 - 1954

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.66
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings and photographs of The Circus Fans' Association Notes by 'Dicky Bird', 'The President' and 'The Hon Secretary', as well as articles on Billy Smart's, Chipperfield's, Rosaire's, Fossett's, Sanger's, Billy Russell's and Bertram Mills, 45p.p.

Dates: 1953 - 1954

Den Curtis' Photographic Albums, 1936 - 1969

 File
Reference code: 178C108.1171-1180
Scope and Contents

Photographic albums put together by Den Curtis, containing black and white photographs of circuses, performers and animals with annotations, including Sanger, Chipprefields, Bertram Mills, Smarts, Hoxie Bros, Blackpool Tower, Belle Vue, Robert Bros, Fossett and Luckens Continental Circus and others, also some loose photographs removed from the albums.

Dates: 1936 - 1969

George Sanger Circus Performers Photographs, c1850 - 1910

 File
Reference code: 178C114.157-178
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs showing George Sanger Circus, performers and staff, living wagons, street parades and circus tents.

Dates: c1850 - 1910

George Sanger Circus Photographs, c1850 - 1945

 File
Reference code: 178C114.182-188
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs of George Sanger's Circus, including a head and shoulders framed portrait of George Sanger.

Dates: c1850 - 1945

George Sanger Circus Scrapbook, c1865

 Item
Reference code: 178G51.2
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook containing newspaper cuttings about George Sanger's Circus, some pages are empty, 31p.p.

Dates: c1865

Letter to Barnum and Sanger Circus, 18 March 1888

 Item
Reference code: 178F37.1
Scope and Contents

Letter to Sanger and Barnum Circus from Pauline Vermersch. Ink on ruled paper. Manuscript, 2p.p.

Dates: 18 March 1888

Life of Lord Geo. Sanger, The World's Greatest Showman Article, c1880 - 1899

 File
Reference code: 178B39.2
Scope and Contents

Interview and life story of George Sanger contained in a booklet with his portrait on the front page printed in several different colours, 6p.p.

Dates: c1880 - 1899

Newspaper Cuttings and Scapbooks, 1838 - 2007

 Series
Reference code: 178G21
Scope and Contents

A collection of newspaper cuttings on circus, circus proprietors and performers and scrapbooks containing newspaper cuttings, posters, programmes and other items of ephemera, covering mainly British circuses and venues such as Belle Vue and also some international circuses.

Dates: 1838 - 2007

Newspaper Cuttings and Scrapbooks, c1865 - 1945

 Series
Reference code: 178G51
Scope and Contents

Newspaper cuttings related to George Sanger's circus and business.

Dates: c1865 - 1945

Photographs, c1850 - 1945

 Series
Reference code: 178C114
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs and postcards of George and Jonh Sanger's circus.

Dates: c1850 - 1945

Sanger Circus Collection

 Fonds
Reference code: NFA0154
Scope and Contents

Black and white and some colour photographs, negatives, handbills, programmes and other items of ephemera relating George Sanger's circus and the Hall by the Sea.

Dates: c1850 - 1945

Sanger Circus Photographs, c1850 - 1945

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178C114.1-188
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs and postcards of Sanger's circus showing performers, animals and Sanger family members including George, Ellen, Victoria Florence also Queen Victoria and royal performances, some photos on the fairground and a colour photograph, also some negatives.

Dates: c1850 - 1945

Scrapbook of Multiple Circuses, 1916 - 1958

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.47
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of photographs, newspaper cuttings and advertisments, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Bertram Mills, Sanger's, Fossett's and Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, 110p.p.

Dates: 1916 - 1958

Scrapbook of Multiple Circuses, 1940 - 1950

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.11
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, mostly from the World's Fair, and black and white photographs relating to multiple circuses and acts including Cirque Molier and Sanger's Circus.

Dates: 1940 - 1950

Script for Cinderella Pantomime, 1883 - 1884

 Item
Reference code: 178B39.1
Scope and Contents

Sanger National Amphitheatre. Manuscript for Cinderella pantomime for Sangers. Black ink and pencil with red underline on white paper and brown covers, written on one side of the pages only on ruled paper with corrections, 59p.p.

Dates: 1883 - 1884