Edinburgh Recollections

The Circus

in Edinburgh




Jim Suddon

Morningside, Edinburgh

Thank you to Jim Suddon who wrote: 

Pinders and Cadonas

"I recall seeing the Pinders Circus as a small child at the Hawick Common Riding, in the Scottish borders.  It seemed to me, at the time, to be huge but was probably very small. 

I recall a clown with a drum, literally drumming-up business.  The highlight of the show was a wonderful dog act.  The dogs seemed to me at that time to be amazing.   Pinder was famous for his dog acts.  His circus toured most of the Common Ridings alongside the travelling shows provided by The Cadonas and all the other show people."

Bertram Mills

"It was not until I had seen the Bertram Mills Circus at Murrayfield -  this was the first large circus to visit Edinburgh after the war  - that I came to realise that the Pinders Circus was indeed small by comparison, but I still remember it with great affection."

Waverley Market

"The Circus was a feature of Christmas and New Year for many years in Edinburgh, with the Circus held in the Waverley Market alongside the Carnival.

The circus featured many animal acts, such as bears with Jean Michum and lions with Tarzana."

Empire Theatre

"I also recall a full size circus show at the Empire theatre, now the Festival Theatre.  It was adjudged to be of high quality and it was enjoyable although the high wire acts were a bit scary."

Pinders Family

"I came to know one of Pinders grandsons in the early 1970s He informed me that he had never actually seen the circus as it had closed before he was born. 

His name was Peter and he was a P.T. teacher at James Gillespies High School.  He emigrated to Australia about 1975. 

Pete told me his mum and dad were two people who had opted out of 'travelling show life', although he said they frequently went back and helped out.  I think 'the' Mr Pinder was his maternal grandfather."

Jim Suddon, Morningside, Edinburgh:  February 18, 2010




Jim Suddon

Morningside, Edinburgh

Jim Suddon wrote again with more memories of circuses in Edinburgh. 

Jim wrote: 

Gaiety Theatre - Leith

"My parents were both theatre fans, particularly my father, so I was taken to the theatres from an early age, and especially if my father was home on leave. 

Mother enjoyed the cinema but my father said films were no comparison to the real thing.   I recall the Gaiety as a small theatre but one which people seemed to particularly enjoy attending.

I remember  one show in which there was a huge tiger.  Children were invited to come down to the stage and sit on its back.  I persuaded my dad to let me go but alas I was too late.  Five children were sat astride the tiger, then their photos were taken.

Health and Safety did not seem to exist in those days and all that held the tiger was a man with a chain attached to its collar."

Jim Suddon, Morningside, Edinburgh:  February 18, 2010




Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan for sending me a photograph of the Bertram Mills Circus at Murrayfield that Jim Suddon refers to above.


Bertram Mills Circus, Murrayfield, 1957-58

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland