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Big Daddy, 1930 - 1997



  • Existence: 14 November 1930 - 2 December 1997


Shirley Crabtree aka Bid Daddy was born in England on 14 November 1930 to professional rugby player and wrestler Shirley Crabtree Senior.

Big Daddy followed his father’s footsteps into professional rugby and wrestling. He played rugby league for Bradford Northern and Halifax, he also worked briefly as a coal miner and with the British Army's Coldstream Guards before becoming a professional wrestler in 1952. Between the 1950s and 1960s he wrestled as the Blond Adonis Shirley Crabtree. He worked for Joint Promotions and the original British Wrestling Federation. In 1966 he stopped wrestling until 1972 when he returned to Joint Promotions to become their top star until the early 1990s.

Crabtree adopted his Big Daddy persona in 1974, which made him famous. In August 1987 while wrestling at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, his opponent King Kong Kirk died after a match. Although Big Daddy was cleared of any responsibility, he was devastated.

Big Daddy retired from wrestling in 1993. During his career he won the European Heavyweight Championship in Joint Promotions and a disputed branch of the British Heavyweight title in the independent British Wrestling Federation.

Big Daddy died of a stroke on 2 December 1997 in Halifax General Hospital.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Blackpool Tower Poster, 1984

Reference code: 178R27.27
Scope and Contents

All New Super Circus. Includes All Star Wrestling with Big Daddy. Colour photograph with clown illustration.

Dates: 1984

Blackpool Tower Poster, 1983

Reference code: 178R27.30
Scope and Contents

Peter Jay presents International Super Circus. Includes All Star Wrestling with Big Daddy. Colour photograph with clown illustration.

Dates: 1983

Cyril Critchlow Collection

Reference code: NFA0089
Scope and Contents The Cyril Critchlow collection contains programmes, posters, handbills, books and magic journals, many of which relate to shows in Blackpool where Cyril resided and includes material on entertainment venues such as Blackpool’s North Pier, Central Pier, South Pier, Tower Circus and a small collection of programmes from other national venues. Additionally, it contains circus photographs and postcards mainly of the Ohmy Circus and Sanger Circus including individual circus troupes and performers...
Dates: c1837 - 2008

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