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Court, Alfred, 1883 - 1977



  • Existence: 1 January 1883 - 1 July 1977


Alfred Court was born on 1 January 1883 in Marseille, France. Although he came from a wealthy family with no connections in the circus, he became a prolific acrobat, circus owner and animal trainer.

Alfred developed a passion for circus, acrobatics performance and gymnastics at a young age and started training at school with his brother Jules. In 1899, aged sixteen, Alfred formed the acrobatic duo Lexton & Egelton with Alfred Lexton and started to perform in the circus. The Act made their debut at the Palais de la Jetée in Nice and later were engaged by Circus Cristiani, with which they travelled around France and Italy. After parting with Lexton, Alfred formed another acrobatic duo with his brother Jules, who shared a passion with him for the circus. The brothers travelled their act as The New Egletons until 1908. In 1909 they founded Cirque Egleton in Marseille, which operated until 1913, the last year under the name Cirque Standard. From this point, Alfred will stablished several circuses in Europe and America, which experienced different degrees of success.

After marrying equestrian Renée Vasserot, the couple formed their own troupe with another acrobat, The Orpingtons. They travelled with act around France and later North, Central and South America with Ringling Bros. and Circo Europeo.

While in South America, Alfred became interested in wild animal training and specially in big cats and started to develop his skills. After touring extensively around America, Alfred and Renée returned to France in 1919, where Alfred re-joined his brother Jules to found Zoo Circus. Influenced by the American circuses he had worked in, Zoo Circus contained a large menagerie and sideshows, offering a different style of circus to the European audience. Alfred engaged some of the most renowned animal trainers of the day, which help him developed his own skills on animal training. Eventually he started to rent his acts to other circuses and performing cage acts himself. Although Zoo Circus experienced a period of success after the war, by 1928 it started to decline until its final closure in 1932. After this, Alfred focused on training big cats for other circuses. For a brief time, he formed Cirque Olympia, which toured France and Spain but this enterprise did not last long. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Alfred was engaged once again by Ringling Bros. and set off to America.

Alfred returned to France after the war to retire in Nice where he died on 1 July 1977.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Blackpool Tower Circus Poster, c1933 - 1990

Reference code: 178R47.149
Scope and Contents

Alfred Court with his Monarchs of the Jungle, Flying Codonas, Maximilian Truzzi juggler, Karolly Troupe equestrians, Cooke's Pony Revue, comedy jazz and boxing ponies, Gordon and Lester comedy acrobats, Ilés and Loyal, Nico and Nico, Six Rolling Wonder Girls, Loretta Ballet, Doodles, 3 van Normans, Marton Sisters. Colour illustrations of a lion, tiger, polar bear, leopard, the 3 Codonas and a couple in Edwardian costume roller skating. Printed by W. E. Berry Ltd.

Dates: c1933 - 1990

Blackpool Tower Circus Posters, c1930 - 1990

Reference code: 178R47.141-212
Scope and Contents

Posters for Blackpool Tower Circus including shows by Knie's Circus, Circus Krone, Circus Schumann, Bertram Mills Circus, Robert Brothers Circus and performances by Charlie Cairoli, Doddles, Coco the Clown, The Rosaires, Lilly Yokoi, Alfred Court, Vojtek Trubka, The Great Wallendas and Mary Chipperfield among others.

Dates: c1930 - 1990

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

Posters, c1800 - 2011

Reference code: 178R47
Scope and Contents

A wide range of British and international circus and menagerie posters ranging from the 19th to the 21st century including Astley's Amphitheatre, Pablo Fanque, Polito, Bostock and Wombwell, Ducrow, Cooke, Hengler, Sanger, Smart, Gerry Cottle, Bertram Mills, Chipperfield's, Robert Brothers, Fossett, Blackpool Tower, Billy Russell, Belle Vue, Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, Austen Brothers and many more.

Dates: c1800 - 2011

Additional filters:

Archival Object 3
Collection 1
Acrobats 3
Animal trainers 3
Art 1
Boxing 1
Circus workers 1