The Circus Comes To Town



Craigavon Bridge, Derry





11min 57sec





black and white, colour


Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage


British Film Institute, J.W. Stirling

Rights Holder

British Film Institute, Northern Ireland Screen

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Where can you see dogs on horseback, poodles skipping and elephants carrying women in their mouths? Watch this film to find out.

Marvel at the wondrous sights and frights of the circus with J.W. Stirling. Chipperfield's Circus is part of a celebrated British show family whose origins can be traced back to 1684. See the circus dynasty at its post-WWII peak, as one of the biggest circuses in Europe. Whilst the entertainment on display - not least Jacko the stilt-walking chimp - is astounding, perhaps the most remarkable sight is the exotic procession of elephants through the streets of Derry and across.



In the latter half of the 20th Century, Jimmy Chipperfield broke away from the family business and applied his skills as an animal trainer in other areas. One of his new ventures was the setting-up of drive-through safari parks, such as those at Longleat and Woburn Abbey. Along with his daughter, Mary, he also trained and supplied animals for film productions. This diversification of the family business coincided with a decline in interest in the touring circus. Since the 1980s, shows by Chipperfield's Circus have been a rarity and no longer feature animals. This film was created by the Scottish amateur film maker during his time in Derry. It comes from the collection of National Museums Northern Ireland.


Filmmaker: J.W. Stirling

Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage



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