Circus Chipperfield in United Kingdom

Circus Chipperfield
Typecircus
Founded0
First elephant0
CountryUnited Kingdom

The acquisition of a large group of elephants from Sri Lanka after World-War II established Circus Chipperfield among the biggest circuses in England. The main branch of the family running the circus was Dick Chipperfield (who died at the age of 83 in 1988) and his brother Jimmy.

Jimmy Chipperfield (-1990) and his wife Rose Purchase (1912-2006) had the children James (died at the age of six from tetanus), Mary, Richard, John and Margaret. Jimmy branched out 1955 with his son Richard (killed during a safari in Uganda in April 1975) in the fields of showjumping, filming and later developed the first drive-through safari park Lions of Longleat and Woburn Safari Park outside Africa. He also developed Knowsley Zoo and Plymouth Zoo and Southampton Zoo.

1947: There were no elephants in circus in England after World War II so Dick Chipperfield went to Sri Lanka in 1947 and bought 9 elephants.
With the help of the owner of Kamala's Circus, Chipperfield toured outlying villages to find elephants and bargain for purchases. First elephant was purchased and named Kamala in respect. Mary and 5 year old Dahlia purchased next. Dahlia was still being trained by Mary, chained to her while working on a rubber plantation. Elephants traveled 15 miles a night for the 60 mile trek to Colombo. Each was ridden by a native boy on the neck with a bell tied, fed coconut leaves and taken to the river for a daily swim. Eight elephants (all previous working animals) transported from Colombo to Tilbury by Captain Newton of the Trevlor. Captain Newton had shipped elephants before, though never as many as for Chipperfield. (Pamela Macgregor-Morris, Chipperfield's Circus)
1947: 5 months later, Dick Chipperfield went back to Sri Lanka and bought another 12 elephants and that 9 + 12 made up 21 elephants. They arrived at the George V Dock in London's Docklands in October 1947 on SS Arbratus. (Wikipedia)

1947 imports (uncompleted):


  1. Blackie
  2. ,
  3. Dahlia
  4. ,
  5. Dinah
  6. ,
  7. Jimmy
  8. ,
  9. Kamala (Camella)
  10. ,
  11. Lelia
  12. ,
  13. Mable
  14. ,
  15. Mary
  16. ,
  17. Sally
  18. ,
    and five elephants later sold to the Government of Borneo in 1951:
  19. unknown name
  20. ,
  21. unknown name
  22. ,
  23. unknown name
  24. ,
  25. unknown name
  26. and
  27. unknown name
  28. .


1948: 21 elephants at Tom Arnold show at Harringay (London) in 1948.
1948: In the winter of 1948, Rosie Chipperfield (wife of Jimmy) went to Sri Lanka and brought back another 8 elephants (including two bulls)
Freda
1949: 29 elephants
1951: 5 of the biggest elephants were sold to the Government of Borneo in 1951: unknown name, unknown name, unknown name, unknown name and unknown name.
1952: 24 elephants:


  1. Baby
  2. ,
  3. Blackie
  4. ,
  5. Cita
  6. ,
  7. Dahlia
  8. ,
  9. Dinah
  10. ,
  11. Jennie
  12. ,
  13. Jimmy
  14. ,
  15. Kamala (Camella)
  16. ,
  17. Lelia
  18. ,
  19. Mable
  20. ,
  21. Mary
  22. ,
  23. May
  24. ,
  25. Rani
  26. ,
  27. Sally
  28. ,
  29. Suzie
  30. ,


Between 1952 and 1953, 8 elephants left the circus: 3 elephants (2 bulls + 1 cow) went to Fossett’s in Ireland. These 3 + 2 bull elephants were sold to Russia via Chipperfields. They were the act originally known as the "Banda 5" (aka "Band of five" = males Banda, Shandra & Blackie = females May & Jane - male Jimmy later replaced Jane), which Ivor Rosaire worked on Circus Mikkeni (sp?) in Holland and other shows in Sweden, Germany and Belgium in the early 1950s.
Paulo’s Circus bought one called Baby, which went onto Robert Brothers and eventually died in Ireland . Two others died.
1953: Chipperfields Circus ousted rivals Bertram Mills and Billy Smart and boasted a big-top tent which could accommodate 6,000 people. It had a collection of 200 horses, 16 elephants and 200 other animals.
1953-1956: another 3 elephants left the circus, total numbers 13?
1956: Chipperfield toured Ireland with 12 elephants pictured at Clonmel railway station, Co.Tipperary. (Mabel became unaccountably lame when touring Ireland. Sent home to winterquarters in Stockbridge, reducing the group to 12.)

1956-1963: One elephant must have died or been sold..
1963: The elephant Mary was used in Rome, in the film Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
1963-08-24: 8 elephants went on RBBB european tour: Cita, Rani, May, Suzie, Jennie, Dinah, Dahlia, and Mable.
1963 September: Mary, Camella, Lelia and Sally were the 4 that stayed with the circus.
1963: This makes a total of 12 elephants.
1963: A new import of 5 elephants: Jane, Carol, Marjorie, Anna and Maryann.(Maryann was re-named Dorothy)
1964-05-12: 8 elephants went on tour with Trolle Rhodins Circus Caravan in Scandinavia: Cita, Rani, May, Suzie, Jennie, Dinah, Dalia, and Mable.

John L. Chipperfield assisted by Jim Stockley, on tour in South Africa, 1965.
1965-1967: Chipperfields Circus toured Southern Africa, and returned to the UK 1968.
5 elephants from this tour was sold to zoos in South Africa, among them Dorothy/Maryanne, who was 1984 sold back to Brian Boswell Circus, Anna and Marjorie were both sold to Vereeniging zoo, and Carol and Jane were both sold to Springs Zoo.


South West India Docks, 1968: Four elephants returning from a Chipperfields Circus tour of South Africa. Left to Right: Sally, Lelia, Mary and Camella in the sling. The man with stick is John L Chipperfield..
1967?: three older elephants sold: Dina, Dalia, and Mable.
1968 in November: 5 elephants sold to Ringlings in USA, were shipped from Hamburg with the Swedish ship “Atlantic Saga”: Cita, Rani, May, Suzie and Jennie.
1969: Old Camella (Kamala) died.
1969-1971: A new juveniel elephant bought, named Camella.
1972: A new group of small elephant arrived from Bangalore: Mohini, Minoti and Manju.
1973: A new import, bought from Brian Williams at Tysely Pet Stores: Lechmee, Mina (Meena), Lisa, Sophie.
1975: Young Camella joined Lechmee, Meena, Sophie, Lisa as a group of 5 that Doreen Duggan took to Elfi Altoff in Austria in 1975.
1975-1979: Was Sophie, Lisa sold or died during those years?
1979: Manju, Mohini, Minoti were sold to Ashtons in Australia April 1979 but never made it because the ship made landfall in Durban and voided the veterinary requirements. Minoti is now at Brian Boswell circus.
1979: The circus had a fire accident, and Sally and Lilia died from the result of a fire later.

Jimmys older brother Dick Chipperfield continued with the Circus, his son Dick Chipperfield took over the Circus, with his sons Richard and Graham.
1994-1999: Camella, Lechmee, Mina (Meena) went to America with Graham Thomas Chipperfield.
After 1999: The last elephants Camella, Lechmee and Mina (Meena) were sold to Circus Medrano (Cirque Medrano) in Spain.

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