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):