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Simpson, Derek, 1949 - 2017



  • Existence: 1949 - 2017


Derek Simpson was a well known personality in the circus circles. He was an agent for foreign acts coming to British and Irish circuses from the 1980s to the present day and had strong links with most of the circus owners throughout the country. He was well versed on the intricacies of obtaining visas, work permits and liaising with British and foreign embassies abroad.

Derek was an art teacher with a degree from Belfast College of Art. His interest in graphic design led to him creating many of the iconic later twentieth century posters for Irish circuses. As such, his graphic influence is very clear in today’s posters with some of his designs being found in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection.

Derek not only designed posters for Irish and British circuses but he also distributed them in hard line paramilitary dominated areas. Derek went to became Head of Art at Ashfield and some of his pupils’ murals, both political and non-political can be seen on gable walls in parts of East Belfast.

Derek was also a life-long circus fan and editor of Ireland’s CIRCUS magazine and wrote reviews and articles for specialist journals. He spent most of his spare time visiting shows in Ireland and Europe and photographing them. He was a very important figure amongst Irish Circus Friends and one of the founder of the Circus Association of Ireland in the 1990s. As well as generating his own archive in his capacity as an artist and agent, Derek was an avid collector of circus material and amassed a large collection of posters, handbills, programmes, scrapbooks, photographs and other items of ephemera.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Gandey's Circus Poster, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178R27.60
Scope and Contents

Colour illustration of lion and other acts by Derek Simpson. Left blank for overprinting location and date. Printed by Evans of the Kinder Press, New Mills, Nr Stockport.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Gandey's Circus Poster, c1980 - 1989

Reference code: 178R27.183
Scope and Contents

Contains Illustration of roaring lion. Printed by Derek Simpson.

Dates: c1980 - 1989

Posters, c1887 - 2010

Reference code: 178R27
Scope and Contents

Circus, variety, pantomime and magic posters including Argyle theatre, Liverpool Empire, Blackpool Tower Circus, Robert Brothers, Austen Brothers, Sorcar, Vesta Tilley, Ken Dodd, Dan Leno, Florrie Forde and others.

Dates: c1887 - 2010

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