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Arthur Fenwick

1876 – 1957

Arthur Fenwick, T&W Archives“I shall always be interested in the wandering life.” Arthur first encountered circus, while sitting under a tree, when he met a boy who had run away from a fairground. He went down to see if he could help. So started a long life of encounters and friendships with circus and fairground folk. Son of a Department store family, Arthur J. Fenwick at the age of 19 had a green caravan with yellow wheels delivered to his home while his father was out. He traveled for 6 years, returning to the firm in due course. He became an avid collector of circus ephemera, including wonderful posters and handbills and filled 20 cuttings books. These are deposited with the Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives  (accession number 944). In his cuttings books a circus story emerges through the newspaper cuttings, letters and hand written notes, spanning 250 years. It features many stories, personalities and circus families including: Koringa, Bostock & Wombwell Circus, the Pinders, Dame Laura Knight, Newsomes, Murphys, and tells many tales of the mixed fortunes of the circus & fairground visits to the Town Moor. In little asides we hear about of a traveling life such as lion cubs playing at his feet. The Showmans’ Guild made him their only lay member, qualifications usually were to have been born in a caravan. He was married to Annie Beavan, a daughter of another department store family. In 1947 he took 1000 of his employees to see Bertram Mills Circus on the town Moor. Fenwick’s was the place to buy your circus tickets from. 

Doreen Really (nee. Smith) a resident of Sandyford, joined the Fenwick Shop Bureau after leaving school, she went on to work for the firm for 45 years and became head of accounts. She remembers sell the circus tickets at the Bureau and then having to report the sales to Mr Fenwick at his house, 12 Brandling Park.  She remembers Arthur and his brother FB Fenwick who was also in the business as being friendly bosses. The Brothers married sisters from the Bevan department store. Arthur had one daughter. FBs sons took over the buisiness.  

When Arthur was elderly and too ill to visit the Circus on the Town moor opposite his house. Berturm Mills sent flowers to him delivered by an elephant. Arthur is buried in the family plot in Jesmond Old Cemetery. 

 

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