Mary and her furry fundraising friends
LAST week’s front page showed an elephant who appeared as a surprise guest at a Dudley wedding, and here is more proof that exotic species were once no stranger to the streets of the Black Country.
This fine photo, which comes to us courtesy of our friends at Wolverhampton Archives, shows Mary the elephant and an array of friends including a monkey, a leopard, two small bears, an otter (we think) and a baby zebra.
The Archives’ Jon Everall tells us that the creatures and their handlers were all performers from ‘The Great Carmo’ show that performed at Wolverhampton’s Hippodrome Theatre on Queen Square, and they were out in the town to raise funds for memorials to those who had fought in the First World War. The picture dates from the 1920s.
“As can be seen,” John told us, “the elephant was used to raise money for the Ex-service Men’s Memorial Fund for soldiers who fought and died in the First World War (1914-1918). The side entrance to the theatre in Cheapside can be seen to the left.’
The Great Carmo was an Australian-born illusionist and circus owner, real name Harry Cameron.
The Hippodrome, like so many theatres of its generation, burned down after a fire took hold during the night, back in 1956. The frontage survived and remained in place for a couple of years, before being demolished and replaced with a furniture shop. A branch of Yates’s Wine Lodge now stands on that spot.
An array of exotic species in Wolverhampton town centre as part of a fundraising campaign at the end of the First World War