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The elephants and camels which paraded on Station Hill, Bury St Edmunds, when the circus arrived in town nearly 50 years ago





Do you remember when elephants paraded through the streets of Bury St Edmunds?

Claire Dove, who used to live in the town, took to social media to share her memories of when the country’s biggest circus – Robert Brothers Circus – visited Bury nearly 50 years ago.

After the circus arrived by train in June 1974, Station Hill was bursting with onlookers eagerly waiting to get a peek of what for many was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In June 1974, elephants and camels paraded on Station Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Robert Mills
In June 1974, elephants and camels paraded on Station Hill, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Robert Mills
The animals were part of Robert Brothers Circus, which come to the town for a week-long spectacle. Picture: Robert Mills
The animals were part of Robert Brothers Circus, which come to the town for a week-long spectacle. Picture: Robert Mills

It was the arrival of elephants and camels, who paraded from the train station through the town to Hardwick Heath for a week-long spectacle.

Among the crowds was Claire who, aged nine at the time, could not believe her eyes.

“I can’t remember going to the circus, but going to see the animals was incredible,” she said. “We all thought it was amazing the animals were walking through the streets.

The images posted by Claire Dove sparked memories for many. Picture: Robert Mills
The images posted by Claire Dove sparked memories for many. Picture: Robert Mills

“I think I’d seen elephants before, but it would have been in a zoo behind bars or in an enclosure that was far away.

“But to have them come so close to us was exciting. They were so huge – we were all amazed.”

Newspaper reports from the time said residents were treated to all the traditional acts of a circus, including performances from Sidney the boxing kangaroo, high wire acts, trampolinists and clowns.

Do you remember seeing the animals? Picture: Robert Mills
Do you remember seeing the animals? Picture: Robert Mills

Claire’s grainy photos soon attracted attention from others, who flooded her post with their memories from that day.

Many expressed how exciting it was the see to animals and they remembered being taken to the spectacle by their mum and dad.

Others said the herd was also spotted walking through Risbygate Street and St Andrew’s Street before the final destination at Hardwick Heath.

Some recalled feeling disappointed after not seeing bears riding motorbikes and sidecars – which they were anticipating after seeing it on posters for the event.

Did the pictures spark memories for you? Lets us know in the comments below.