James Bannister's Travelling Circus
James Bannister,(1758-1836) impressario. He was one of the first people to take a circus on tour in Britain. His daughter Sarah was the star attraction at James's self styled Olympic Circus. After his bankruptcy in 1819, Sarah joined Astley's Circus on Westminster Bridge Road.
In the mid 19th century there were hundreds of circuses operating in Britain. Trick riding continued to be the main attraction, but a variety of other acts developed. There was even an aquatic circus where the circus ring was flooded with water.
Such was the popularity of circuses that many 19th century theatres also presented circus acts and you were as likely to see jugglers and aerial acts on a trip to the music hall as at a circus. Trapeze wires were strung from the roof of the Alhambra and other theatres, and trapeze and high-wire artists performed above the crowds sitting in the stalls. Even Drury Lane theatre had a circus ring so it could present equestrian acts.
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