This film is part of Free

Robert Bros travelling circus

The popularity of the Roberts Bros Travelling Circus was at its height in the 50s with the spectacle of performing animals from foreign lands a tremendous attraction.

Amateur film 1953 16 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for East Anglian Film Archive


For the picturesque but somewhat quiet village of Tolleshunt D'Arcy in Essex, the arrival of a travelling circus on the village green would have been quite an event. At the time, performing animals were what were expected by the audience and Robert Bros did not dissappoint. With what could easily be classed as a mobile zoo, lorries and cages arrived and tents were pitched ready to enthrall and entertain the Essex audience.

The red haired boy in the film is the boss' son, Bobby Junior who, at 11 years old, was already a star of the show. Attitudes have changed very much since this film was made and scenes of big game and bears transported around the country as part of the Big Top entertainment are now no longer acceptable. But this film is a valuable record of our social history made by amateur film fanatic, Joyce Allingham who was staying with her sister, the famous crimewriter Margery Allingham at D'Arcy House. Joyce seized the opportunity on her doorstep to capture life behind the scenes and in the cages of a travelling circus.