Sale at Newcastle 1931
The animal theme has intersected with circus for years on end, as it has with other showmen’s products such as optical illusions, early cinema & tableaux vivants. Traveling with dangerous animals requires much practical knowledge, going beyond what you would expect. The cost of maintaining & controlling animals is vastly expensive. In the 1930’s Bostock & Wombwell Royal Menagerie was hitting hard times. Initially they attempted to display their animals permanently in Exhibition Park. This might have been Newcastle’s Zoo. But the Concept fell through and resulted in the sale of animals. They were sold in Newcastle, after 126 years, and were sent all over the place to Prudhoe, Hexham & Gateshead.
This selling off of whole menageries was not a unique event. There are several disturbing anecdotes in the archives which allude to this including sales for “Cold Meat Prices”. In particular during the 1st World War, menageries went into serious decline and on the 6 June 1918, M. E Bostock offered the skin of a “very fine lion” to the city of Newcastle. It was possibly kept by Hancock Museum. In 1941 Arthur recounts that “The Pinders thought it best to have all their lions shot soon after the outbreak of war” (WW2).