Pages from History

A Collection of Historic Images - The British Sideshow Pg-1


The fairground show was a key element of the early fairs, and the origin of the term 'showman' relates directly to the art of travelling and managing a fairground show. Over time, with the mechanical and technological advancement of fairground rides, the show became an aspect of history. The story of the fairground show is as exciting as the show itself. The showmen had to adopt, change and be creative and imaginative with their presentations.

The fairground shows of the early to mid-nineteenth century are perhaps the most documented of all the amusements that appeared on the fairground until the introduction of steam powered roundabouts. Their heyday was in the first fifty years of the nineteenth century, with Menageries, Circuses, Ghost shows, Exhibitions and Waxworks all dominating the showground landscape during this period. Lord George Sanger, Tom Norman and the famous Bostock of Menagerie fame all became household names. The showmen developed ingenuity and style, and the gullible public flocked to see not just the great Waxworks and Menagerie shows but also the peep shows, illusion booths and exhibitions of freaks.


However, the fairground shows developed many forms and have achieved varying degrees of success on the twentieth century fairground, with boxing shows, parading booths and the modern funhouses and ghost trains all linked to their nineteenth century counterparts.




Residual Jungles #1 - The Barnsley Whale Jon Anton Entertainment Seven Weeks of Summer Season

1913 Article by Anita

Carnesky Ghost Train

 Early Life & the America Museum

Weird and Wonderful

Vintage Fairground Amusements

Horror Shows

Earls Court - Ferris Wheel

Sideshow Illusions

Circus of Wonders

Freak Shows

National Fair Grounds Archive British Midways

Tom Norman, the Silver King

Admission All Classes

Great Bostock Show

The Hopping's Show Row

Hull Fair

The Giant Boy Excerpt from a visit to the Bartholomew Fair

Traveling Menageries


The Little Man Excerpt from a visit to the Bartholomew Fair

Peppers Ghost  

Miss Hipson - Female Dwarf & the Malay - Bartholomew Fair

Wild West Shows   Exhibition of Real Wonders - Bartholomew Fair

Showzam 2009   Frank C. Bostock - St. Nicholas Garden

“Fairground Heritage Weekend”

  Contrasts Feature at Barnet Fair

The Two-Headed Patagoian Giant  


The Strange History of the

Frankenstein Carnival Sideshow










Click On The Photos Below To View Full Size




La Cloe - Alive Several Shows Talker Outside Show Jonah the Giant Whale Florence
Shufflebottom the English Annie Oakley




Miss Gravity

Half Girl

The Traveling Pixie Fun House





The Wonderful World

Headless Woman


J. Grattan's 

Worlds Fattest

Married Couple

The Cuban

2 Headed Giant





Stevens' Glamour

 on Parade


Belles of the Barbary Coast Show


Jungle Circus


the Newport Giantes



Mermaid Under Water and Alive Believe or Not! Girl in Goldfish Bowl Defies Gravity  Performers




The Queen

of the Ocean

Iron Lung Show

Sleeping in Ice

The Ugliest Woman

 Crowd on Midway





Dracula Daughter Voodoo Girl Tommy Toes Jacobsen the Armless Wonder Jungle Girl Golden Goddess




Birch's Water Circus

Shufflebottom Family

Wild West Performers

 Monkey Speedway

Billy Kayes'

Largest Rat Show

Worlds Smallest Man 

Billy Wood's Show, Goose Fair, 1959

Worlds Ugliest Woman

Worlds Smallest Man

Bowman's Variety Show, 1961

Sleeping Beauty Alive

Ghost Train

Ghost Train


Show Fronts

Later shows in 1933

Boxing Show

Boxing Pavilion





Boxing Stadium

Wall of Death

Snake Charmer

The Original

Monkey Circus 

Wild West Show




William Stewart's Boxing Booth, 1933

Wizards of the Wall

Lawrence Marionettes

Show Fronts









Professor Vanessa Toulmin - Aunty Brenda - the Contortionist


Brenda O'Connor - who performed on the North Pier Blackpool and the Mouline Rouge Paris in the 1960s


All Images are posted with the permission of  Professor Vanessa Toulmin  National Fairground Archive University of Sheffield,  Photographs are copy-righted ©2012 to the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield Library, All rights reserved,  they are part of an extensive sideshow collection. No Images may be reproduced, reposted or used in any manner except that of viewing without the express written permission of the National Fairground Archives. For more information click here  National Fairgrounds Archive University of Sheffield  


No Images may be reproduced, reposted or used in any manner except that of viewing without the express written permission of Sideshow WorldTM or the copyright holder.   If you have images you would like to be include  please drop us a line


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