Sunday, 4 December 2011

An Elephants Home in Leamington Spa.

Today I went for a trip to The Elephant House Auctions in Leamington Spa. The building in Moreton Street used to be the home for performing Elephants. As far as I can gather initially Heiglers Equestrian Circus first kept elephants there ,followed by a famous Elephant trainer called Samuel Lockhart ( 1851-1933). (There appears to be a bit of a discrepancy about Morrell Street and Moreton street but they do join into each other.) Samuel worked in Sri Lanka on Tea plantations where he learnt how to train elephants. He bought some and ended up travelling all over the U.K. performing for Queen Victoria and working with the Ringling Brothers. While they were in Leamington Spa the Elephants were walked through the town down to the river to wash and water.  The slipway called 'The Elephants Walk is still there. It used to be nearer the Parish church but was moved near Mill Bridge because the noise of the elephants upset the church goers !
The Elephant House


He had a brother called George William Lockhart who also trained elephants. He was unfortunately killed when two of his elephants, Salt and Sauce stampeded. Salt and Sauce continued to be worked by various people including Dudley Zoo, The Fossetts and Billy Butlin.
                                                            
They were also featured in the old film 'Elephant Boy'.
Ringling Brothers Circus
 His son George Claude Lockhart was the first Circus Ring master to wear 'Pink'tails and a top hat !
Apparently the owners of the Elephant House still have the right to walk Elephants down The Parade and to wash them in the River.
By the way, Royal Leamington Spa is well worth a visit..lovely architecture, even a Landsdowne Crescent like Cheltenhams. Next time we will find the slipway and visit the local museum, galleries and shops !
More information about Sam Lockhart in link_http://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=730

1 comment:

  1. Visited Leamington today and came across the Elephant Walk. Interested, did a bit of research and came across the name George Lockhart. I remember him as a child in Manchester from going to Belle Vue Circus as a Christmas treat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_Vue_Zoo#Belle_Vue_Circus

    We lived just a mile down the road. Belle Vue was quite an amazing place, it had a zoo, fairground, concert halls, a lake and a pub where I saw in later life, James Booker, one of New Orleans greatest piano players. Also the best speedway team ever, Belle Vue Aces. So a chance visit to Leamington brought back lots of memories. We've lived in Worcester for the last 20something years.

    Small world!

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