THERE was a traffic stopping moment in Leamington last weekend when a circus troupe complete with elephant made its way through the town.
The elephant parade, starring Wilhelmina the Elephant, was put on by theatre group The Slaughterhouse Players in memory of Leamington’s world famous Victorian circus ringmaster and elephant trainer Sam Lockhart.
Mr Lockhart, born in 1851, was the second child of the famous Lockhard circus family. His work took him all over the UK, including Royal command performances in front of Queen Victoria, Europe – where he ran his own circus – and the USA where he worked for the Ringling Brothers Circus.
He has even had a children’s book dedicated to him – ‘Elephants at Royal Leamington Spa’ written by Janet Storrie and published in 1990. In this book the claim is made Mr Lockhart performed the incredible feat of being shot from a cannon onto a trapese.
Leamington also has several areas named after his most famous group of elephants, “The Three Graces” which included an elephant called Wilhelmina. The elephant parade culminated at his former residence in Warwick New Road.
Chris “CJ” Willsmore, founder and director of The Slaughterhouse Players, was delighted with the event.
He told the Observer: “Queen Victoria led our procession and we were grateful that the drivers didn’t mind making way for us. Despite the weather, we managed to put on a full show including a human canon ball, clowns, a strongman, bearded lady, Zelda the fortune teller with the Flying Romanovs as trapeze artists”.
Mr Wilsmore added that Wilhelmina – otherwise known as Slaughterhouse Players Tony Hemming and Mike Davidson – was without doubt the star of the show.
“Our elephant was an amazing sight walking up the road, but she did have a little rest before the main performance”.
For more information about The Slaughterhouse Players or to book Wilhelmina please contact the [email protected]