Showmen in the spotlight as circus exhibition rolls into town

Pictured is Professor Vanessa Toulmin with exhibits from the new cirus history exhibition at Sheffield Universitys,Western Bank Library

Pictured is Professor Vanessa Toulmin with exhibits from the new cirus history exhibition at Sheffield Universitys,Western Bank Library

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AN EXHIBITION covering 250 years of British circus history opened in Sheffield this week.

Costumes, posters and props are on display at the National Fairground Archive in the Western Bank Library of the University of Sheffield until April 30.

Circus Showmen: Innovators Who Shaped the Circus is based on material in the university’s National Fairground Archive and is curated by Prof Vanessa Toulin and Amanda Bernstein.

The exhibition begins with ‘the father of modern circus’ Philip Astley and features fairground showmen Lord George Sanger, Bertram Mills, Billy Smart and Gerry Cottle.

Prof Toulmin said it was “a celebration of the world’s greatest-ever showmen who shaped the circus and created magical and exhilarating world-class shows and events”.

There is also a history of the most famous venue for circus in the UK, Blackpool Tower, and full-sized models of Coco the Clown and Charlie Cairoli.

The exhibition is open 9am-7pm Monday to Friday and noon to 6pm Saturday and Sundays.