Dicing with death – big cat style

Billy Smarts circus  taking over Southsea common in the summer of 1958.

Billy Smarts circus taking over Southsea common in the summer of 1958.

Skins being  soaked in a lime pit ready for glove-making

Parchment makers worked hand in glove at Havant

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I should think that the one man who, more than most, was relieved that animals were banned from the circus was the lion tamer.

Can you imagine going into a cage with half a dozen big cats and having a long-cane whip as your only defence? Who in their right mind would have wanted that job?

A lion  disagrees with Dick Chipperfield. Who would want this job?

A lion disagrees with Dick Chipperfield. Who would want this job?

I am sure I can remember an assistant with a loaded rifle standing outside the cage just in case. But would he have been quick enough if the lion decided to turn nasty?

These two pictures come from Chipperfield’s Circus on Southsea Common in 1961. All the big cats belonged to Dick Chipperfield.

And while we’re on the subject of circuses, just look at the size of Billy Smart’s Circus on the common in 1958. I can count at least 60 vehicles of all kinds looking like a wagon train circled in case of a ‘Red Indian’ attack.

To the top of the picture is the Naval War Memorial and the tent could hold 6,000.

Two big cats  belonging to Dick Chipperfield  of Chipperfield's Circus.

Two big cats belonging to Dick Chipperfield of Chipperfield's Circus.

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