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Billy Smart’s Circus

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Billy Smart’s Circus

Brighton's crowds thrill to the sight of Billy Smart's Circus parading through their town in this film from the 1950s

Amateur film 1950 2 mins

Overview

Britain on film logo

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East

This unique amateur film captures a circus parade passing through Brighton's town centre. It features many circus performers, both human and animal, including elephants, llamas, camels, clowns, dancers, cowboys on horseback, acrobats and trapeze artistes. Cigarette adverts adorn many of the wagons and one even appears on an elephant!

This film, made by Sydney Horton, captures a time when circuses that featured performing animals were much more popular with the public than they are today - as the crowds lining the streets of Brighton to watch the parade demonstrate. However, what was acceptable in the 1950s is very different from what would be tolerated today, particularly with regards to animal welfare and the environment. Even the final shots of the film show zebras confined in pens and polar bears locked in cages.