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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 and other material such as newspaper cuttings and correspondence.


  • Creation: c1837 - 2008


Conditions Governing Access

Items are available to view by appointment in the NFCA reading room. Books and journals are listed on the University catalogue, Star Plus. Not all film material is available for viewing due to preservation conditions

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of National Fairground and Circus Archive, subject to copyright law and the condition of the item

Biographical / Historical

Cyril Critchlow was born in Staffordshire in 1923 and moved to Blackpool with his family as a teenager in the late 1930s. There the Chrichlow family run a guest house, which Cyril himself managed for 40 years.

Cyril developed an interest in magic from an early age and became known as a magician during the Second World War under the stage name of Reval.

Throughout his life in Blackpool, Critchlow became an avid collector of ephemera relating to Blackpool’s entertainment heritage from the 1860s to the present day and wrote several books on the subject. He was also a passionate heritage campaigner and in 1977 he fulfilled a lifelong dream when he opened The Museum of Entertainment on Coronation Street, where he displayed his personal collection of entertainment ephemera.

Critchlow had a colourful career both in the entertainment sector and beyond. He presented magic shows and gave talks on Blackpool history of entertainment at the ‘Witches Café’ which he also ran. In 1980 he became the proprietor of a small theatre of variety and he even worked as a spotlight operator at the Winter Gardens Theatre for a while. In the mid-sixties he was elected town Councillor. Additionally, he was a founder member of the Blackpool Magicians’ club, becoming at one point President and Honorary Life Member. He was a member of Equity, The Magic Circle, Blackpool Heritage Forum and he was President of the North West Music Hall and Variety Friendship Society.

He was still entertaining with his magic act in his 80s performing as Wizardo, Harry Potter's grandfather and took part in Sheffield University’s Cabinet of Curiosities held at Blackpool in 2008.

Cyril Critchlow died after a short illness in 2008. At the time of his death he was working on several books, including a history of Blackpool Central Pier.

The core of the Cyril Critchlow collection is held in the Local and Family History Centre at the Blackpool Central Library.


30 Linear metre(s) (12 boxes, 14m of magic journals, 10m of books and 207 photographs and postcards )

Language of Materials



Catalogued according to type

Related Materials

The Cyril Critchlow Collection at Blackpool Central Library, Argyle Theatre Collection and Hodson Family Collection

Created by Jane Donaldson Updated by Arantza Barrutia 7 March 2014
19 June 2012
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Fairground and Circus Archive Repository

The University of Sheffield
Western Bank
Sheffield South Yorkshire S10 2TN United Kingdom
0114 222 7231