This film is part of Free

Mills Chimps, Olympia

Chimpanzees from one of London’s best-known circuses clown around for the Christmas audience at Kensington Olympia.

Amateur film 1954 8 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for London's Screen Archives


The Bertram Mills Circus held their annual show at Olympia since 1920 - the first was staged to win a bet – and was credited with reviving the circus as a form of entertainment in the UK. The Christmas show was held until the 1960s and this short reel comes from the mid-1950s. It demonstrates a very different attitude to animals, with the performing chimps dressed in clothes, riding bikes, climbing tightropes and pushing prams for the amusement of a large crowd.