Late 1980s – date
There were a cluster of Circus and Juggler’s based in the greater Tees area in the 1980s/early 1990s, including Cleveland Community Circus which was started by Lynn Caroll and Cathie Sprague, and was taken over in 1991 by Bub Bacon, who had learned to juggle and stilt walk there. Panemaniacs (the North East Circus Skills Club) was in existence in 1994, it included jugglers like Mini Mansell & Mike Bridge, both of whom taught circus workshops & entertained at local events. Mike Bridge was the lead for a SIRF initiative, Circus 2000, this evolved into JUST club.
JUST is short for Juggling and Unicycling Stockton-upon-Tees. It meets on Thursdays in 2 halls at Northfield Campus School, Billingham. The club is the largest unicycling club in the UK. It has members who range in age from 2 – 60+. The club has regular muni excursions (mountain biking on one wheel) and can be seen at local events offering workshops. It has some very talented riders in the club – not all of whom consider themselves as circus, but instead as being from the sports side of unicycling. Unicycle hockey is a favorite of the club.
In 2010 JUST became a base for the Five Ring Circus project for Stockton and hosted the UK Unicycle Convention. The club have been involved in the Stockton Carnival and many members have volunteered as performers in SIRF finales. Roger Davies, who runs and owns Unicycle.Com is strongly linked to the club. Stee & Rachel Deveraux have been the lead organisers for 6-7 years, Rachel trained at Circomedia school in Bristol. The committee includes Paul Tasker, who started through Circus 2000 project, Anne Bulmer, Doug Harris, Jackie Stockton, Helen Hogarth and Fiona Cobb. Many of their children also started circus through the club.
There is a lot of cross over with this community and those of Newcastle and Durham Juggling Clubs to this day. Julia McNaught, based in Hartlepool and Brazil, set up Estrella, a project linked with Cleveland Community Circus & SIRF. Bub tells of them bringing Capoeria to the NE (Pelicano). In 2006 Marco’s Circus Workshops started in Middlesbrough, he & Cathie Sprague also started All About Walkabout, based in Redcar & Cleveland. In 2012 Bub founded, Funky Friday Circus Club in Saltburn-by-Sea.