Mary and her furry fundrais­ing friends

Black Country Bugle - - NEWS - By GAVIN JONES

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

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