10th July 1899 - Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth visits Salisbury

Barnum and Baileys greatest Show in Earth arrived in Salisbury on the 10th July 1899.

The show, as it appreared in London, featured:

at least ten displays including aquatic acts, aerialists, elephants and an equestrian act featuring 70 horses performing in the ring at once. A military band played before the performance, there were races and ballets, a menagerie and a spectacular re-enactment of a famous American sea battle with the Spanish fleet at Santiago. Altogether the circus employed 1,200 people and 380 horses[1].

Barnum and Bailey in Salisbury

The arrival of ‘The Greatsest Show’ was a huge event. Village schools in the area were closed to alow children to attend[2] As far as I can guess this would have been the full Barnum and Bailey Circus. There was only one touring companyand they played their last American date in Philadelphia in October 1897[3], then came to Britain and Europe until the end of 1902, when they returned to winter in Bridgeport Connecticut[4].

The circus’ schedule for the first half of July was as follows:


1 Torquay, England
3-5 Plymouth, England
6 Exeter, England
7 Weymouth, England
8 Bournemouth, England
10 Salisbury, England
11 Southampton, England
12 Portsmouth, England
13 Brighton, England
14 Tunbridge Wells, England

Barnum and Bailey Posters from the time of the Salisbury show

The Barnum and Bailey posters are all fromaround the time of the English tour. Barnum and Bailey Grand Water Circus The Grand Water Circus is 1895. The Credit is: By Daderot at en.wikipedia(Original text : Copyright by The Strobridge Lith. Co., Cincinnati - New York.) (c1895.) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on Earth, circus poster, 1899 The railway poster is advertizing day trips to see the circus in Cardiff on June 21 - 3 weeks of so before the Salisbury date. By The National Archives UK (The circus comes to town) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

Troupe of very remarkable trained pigs, poster for Barnum & Bailey, 1898 The trained pigs poster is from 1898 - the year before the tour of England. Whether the pigs made it across the Atlantic I don’t know. Poster By Strobridge Lithographic Co., Cincinnati [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Barnum and Bailey   3b52428u Barnum & Bailey themselves (who I think are reminiscient of the Wizard Of Oz and Lenin here) are picture in an 1897 poster. Credit is: By New York, Cincinnati : Strobridge & Co., Lith. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

German poster for Barnum & Bailey with bicycles and rollerskates, 1900 The German poster of the lady cyclist is from 1900. The text on the Wikimedia page says that

It is unclear if this poster was used in Germany or for a German-speaking audience in the U.S’[5].

My guess would be that it was for use in Germany, because I think Barnum and Bailey went on from England to tour Europe

The German text translates as:

The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. Funny scenes of bicycles and roller skates.

Poster is By The Strobridge Lithographic Co., Cincinnati & New York [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Barnum and Bailey   Realistic Jumgle Menagerie

The Realistic Jungle Menagerie poster if from 1898. The poster is By …trialsanderrors [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

lossy page1 576px Barnum & Bailey clowns and geese1.tif

The performing geese with the scary clown poster is from 1900, and the credit is: By The Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati & New York. (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


[1] Victorian Circus - Victoria and Albert Museum, URL: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/v/victorian-circus/

[2] Wiltshire Council - Wiltshire Community History Get Image Information

[3] Circus Routes, Barnum & Bailey 1891-1900, URL: http://www.circushistory.org/Routes/PTB1891.htm

[4] Circus Routes, Barnum & Bailey 1901-10, URL: http://www.circushistory.org/Routes/PTB1901.htm#1902

[5] File:German poster for Barnum & Bailey with bicycles and rollerskates, 1900.jpg - Wikimedia Commons, URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:German_poster_for_Barnum_%26_Bailey_with_bicycles_and_rollerskates,_1900.jpg