Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lying through the teeth..... of the lions !......Sepia Saturday 179

The Manders family

.....Britain's greatest spin doctors and liars !!





This photo is the Sepia Saturday prompt this week. We bloggers try to follow the theme, in some vague way, as a seed in our thoughts. Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.


I was pretty stuck on this photo this week, after all my readers don't want to see images of me caravanning with my Mum and Dad in the 1960s. But then I spotted the name "G Manders" on the living van, and that gave me something to work on. It seemed to be a famous family name in the travelling entertainment industry, my research showed.

I was reminded of a famous local painting of Derby, which in the distant past I have discussed with Brett Payne. I checked with him and sure enough he had immediately thought of it and planned to use it, so I will show it here and make no further comment.

Fair Day in Morledge, Derby, 1882, by C.T. Moore.
You may wonder what is the strange tower in the foreground, the answer is that it is a lead shot tower, from the top of which molten lead was poured into water at the base, creating shot of varying size.

This led me to wonder if the Manders family had ever been to Derby, and a quick check of the Derby Mercury confirmed that yes, they had indeed visited the city.

Derby Mercury, May 16, 1860
(Courtesy Gale Databases)

Derby Mercury, May 16, 1860
(Courtesy Gale Databases)



Later terrible problems in Belper !!


Belper lies just 8 miles north of Derby. I saw a reference to some problems Manders had in Belper with his animals. Maybe, I thought, the Menagerie had moved on there after Derby. When I looked further into the report about the Belper problems, matters started to become confusing. I found the report in the local Wrexham paper. Now Wrexham is in Wales, and a good 80 miles west of Belper, and not exactly a town known for publishing newspapers of national importance. What a strange thing for their local paper to report.


...........wagons. The watchman was sitting smoking his pipe at the side of a coke fire when, at about five-thirty he suddenly felt himself pinned from behind. Letting out a cry when he found he was unable to move, Manders opened the window of his living carriage to find out the cause of the commotion. What he saw was the watchman in the grip of one of the large gorillas recently added to the menagerie.

 Manders called to his watchman, instructing him to stay perfectly quiet and still. He dressed hastily and, armed with a large sledge hammer, went to rescue the man. On seeing Mr Manders approaching, the gorilla released the watchman, who was considerably more frightened than hurt, but at once it sprang up one of the poles and onto the menagerie tilt. Mr Manders then inspected the wagon in which the animal had been securely locked, to find that the floor had been torn up and all three animals missing.

 By now three gorillas were seated comfortably on the top ridge of the canvas roof. A messenger was sent to the lodging where the grooms and animal keepers were staying requesting their immediate return to the show. A long ladder was procured and one of the keepers with a heavy riding whip ascended to the roof, but on seeing the threatening attitude from the gorillas he was ordered back down. Next a blank cartridge was fired at the animals. They jumped down and ran along the roofs of the caravans, sprang from the elephant wagon, and proceeded off down Derby Road, pursued by Mr Manders on horseback.

 By now it was 7 o'clock and news of the disaster was spreading through the town like wildfire. As the animals moved through the town bystanders ran in every direction. Eventually the proprietor caught up the animals and he was able to administer a crushing blow with a large iron bar to one of the trio, causing it to drop instantly. Assisted by some of the keepers who had followed Mr Manders, the animal was roped and left secure in a nearby stable. The second was stunned by a stone thrown at its head by one of the keepers. The third was found in the branches of a large oak. Despite stones being thrown, guns fired it remained steadfast. At length, three or four of the keepers arrived, well-armed and with instructions to shoot if necessary. When the gorilla saw their approach it sprang back out of the tree and back along the highway, followed by Mr Manders and his attendants. Fearing that it might eventually reach Derby shots were fired at it. None reached its target, but the animal turned and faced its pursuers. At this point one of the keepers skilfully lassoed it and secured it after a terrific struggle. When the animals were returned floors of a more substantial material were fitted in the wagon."

Wrexham Advertiser. June 1, 1867
(Courtesy Gale Databases)






Then it gets stranger and stranger...!!!



An accident in Grimsby reported in Truro, 391 miles away !
Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser
 [Truro, England] 4 May 1860
(Courtesy Gale Databases)




An accident in Manchester reported in Colchester, 236 miles away !
Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties
 [Colchester, England] 20 Mar. 1861
(Courtesy Gale Databases)


An accident in Norwich reported in Glasgow, 376 miles away !
Sepia Glasgow Herald [Glasgow, Scotland] 18 Aug. 1865

(Courtesy Gale Databases)



And I could go on.....and on.....and on.... !!

But I won't.........it started to bore even me !! You will have got the gist of it. This Manders family had the best possible team of spin doctors making sure towns and cities were well primed with adrenalin long before the menageries arrived in town. Truth went out of the window.

I am not sure when the Sepia Saturday image was taken....say 1890...at a guess? But even my limited research showed that they were successful for many years, at least from 1860 to 1914, and likely longer than this.

Was this the G Manders, resident of the caravan in this week's photo?

What you needed in order to get mauled by Manders' animals !!
(Courtesy britishmuseum.org)

The End



P.S.

The historical accuracy of my assumptions in this blog are open to debate, and I welcome comments from, and may well defer to, those who have studied the Manders Menagerie.

P.P.S.

I did say I could go on and on, and indeed I did carry on reading, and it became more bizarre as I did

 Illustrated Police News etc [London, England] 14 Dec. 1867(Courtesy Gale Databases)


20 comments:

  1. That's the kind of publicity that could go the other way and scare people off; they obviously enjoyed taking risks of their own. I was reminded of Stanley Holloway's 'Albert and the Lion' when I read the boy and lion story. I love the idea of gorillas scampering over caravan roofs - I bet nobody else has that this week!

    By the way I've used that Morledge picture myself on Sepia Saturday here.

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  2. Maybe Manders could have advertised NASCAR car races had he lived long enough. A car race isn't interesting until there's a collision.

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  3. I went to the trouble even of locating Stanley Holloway's "Albert and the Lion" on YouTube, only to discover that Little Nell had beaten me to it. I have a suspicion that Marriott Edgar's legendary monologue could have been inspired by Mander and his Menagerie.

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    1. I got 2 minutes into the 4 minute song and Albert has already been consumed...I will have to live in sheer suspense until I have time to finish it.

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  4. That man being eaten alive by hyenas looks pretty spry as he beats them back. I think I would have gone on an out of town vacation if I heard Mander's Menagerie was coming to my town!

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  5. I enjoyed learning about Manders Menagerie. There were a lot of dangerous and scary incidents, though.

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  6. Having spent my week reading about American circuses, I think your assumptions about exaggerated tales of escaped or dangerous animals are correct, Nigel. I read several similar accounts in US newspapers that were part of showbiz puffery. Advertisements cost money, but reports of wild animals on the loose were free. One news item described an escaped boa constrictor in rural New York that had already eaten a goat, a horse, and injured a small child!

    Your comment on my blog of the 20 mule team borax was spot on. In the 60s, they sponsored a TV western series hosted by Ronald Reagan! And I have a box of borax in the laundry room.

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    1. I remember that long long mule team in the ad! Then the driver would crack his whip. Sure don't remember Reagan as host though, nor even which of the many wild west shows it went with.

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  7. I enjoyed reading about this infamous travelling circus. Many reports of incidents reached Australian papers too.
    One paper reported about a fatal lion attack:
    "An examination of the body revealed the most frightful injuries. The scalp, from the crown to the neck, had been torn away; all the flesh had been torn off both thighs, from the hips nearly to the knees ; the right arm was fractured in two places, as well as badly lacerated ; and there were also serious injuries to the chest'

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    1. I have not had to censor a comment yet...but that's getting a bit close to the bone !!

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  8. Coincidentally I have been reading a book on fossils and how these have helped in the study of evolution of animals, reptiles and humans. Professor Richard Owen figures prominently as do gorillas and chimpanzees. I wonder how quickly Manders would have been shut down if those incidents occurred today. Fascinating.

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    1. Thank you...I read about Owen in an appropriately named Daily Telegraph article "Richard Owen: the greatest scientist you've never heard of"....so now I have heard of him.

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  9. oh loose gorillas and lions quite the wanderings of this Meanders....interesting name they had or chose for their entourage. I enjoyed reading all the clippings..you did some great research for this...and for the first photo How did they get the molten lead up that high?

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    1. Good question...that I never sought to ask...but I will find out now you have given me a lead by raising the issue.

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  10. What fun to read this blog, again. I vaguely remember the smells of animals in cages, poor things, they were definitely just a ghost of their former selves...and in circus acts they were coaxed into performing. Manders seems to have just displayed and written scarey encounters...didn't bother with "acts."

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  11. Fascinating post. I'm glad you changed your mind, though I have to admit I was going to do exactly what you had planned - photos of me and my family on holiday. Luckily I thought better of it. Thanks for the interesting menagerie stories.

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  12. Thanks Nigel. Enjoyed reading this.

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  13. I was on the edge of my chair reading about all these beastly accidents. What great research and story telling. As usual, I loved reading your post.

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  14. I had to remove a comment by a 'Mer Bren Patsy' which was interesting but then went on to accuse me of using an image from her copyright material, which I certainly did not. She should have made an attempt to contact me first to check facts. Its a shame, as she was undoubtedly interested in some of the material in this post. She wrote, inter alia:
    "Was this the G Manders, resident of the caravan in this week's photo?" Yes.(she wrote)... it was my grandfather. Along with his siblings, he was proprietor of Manders Grand Star Menagerie. The Manders Menagerie mentioned in the newspaper clippings belonged to his father's cousin, William Manders, whose menagerie was at one time called the Grand National Star Menagerie. It was sold to Bostock and Wombwells in 1875. The little girl in the foreground of the living wagon photo is my mother, so the picture must have been taken in the early 1920s... the menagerie traveled until the early 30s.

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  15. I had to remove another comment by a 'Mer Bren Patsy' as I don't want this to be the forum for her complaints that people (not me) are infringing her rights over old photos. It may become embarrassing for her if it is that she is claiming rights over images she does not have rights over. If she wishes to contact me she may do so by email at ** aspdin [at] gmail.com **

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