THE BLACKPOOL TOWER CIRCUS AND ITS FASCINATING HISTORY
While many circuses are found travelling the country with no real place to call home, The Blackpool Tower Circus has remained an iconic entertainment establishment for over 120 years. Its charm and delight attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, all eager to see what kind of mischief the clowns will get up to, and what sights they’ll set their eyes upon.
The Blackpool Tower Circus first opened to the public on 14th May 1894, and admission was from 6d. For that, you could see death-defying stunts, hilarious skits and many a spectacle – and not much has changed in that sense. Even with the addition of technology, the circus remains classic and traditional, paying homage to its history.
The lavish arena was originally designed by Maxwell and Turk in 1894, but was redesigned by world renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham and completed in 1900. The Blackpool Tower Circus is a Grade I listed building, and the centre of the arena can be transformed into an artificial lake, which has amazed visitors for years and is still spectacle today. The hippodrome style stage ring is one of the only two surviving working examples of this feature today in the UK, the other being the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. The arena takes less than a minute to fill with 42,000 gallons of water, weighing 190 metric tons and is often used in the finale.
In 1956, a fire in the Tower Ballroom caused considerable smoke damage to the circus area, but it was redecorated and reupholstered and remains in fantastic condition today.
Having never missed a season since it began, you can imagine just how many faces have performed in front of the huge circular crowds, all of which are remembered fondly. From August & September to Doodles and Charlie Cairoli, and even comedian W.C. Field spent a season as a juggler before the First World War.
The current entertainment head honcho, Laci Endresz, has been with the Tower Circus for over 25 years and enlists his two sons, Mooky the Clown and Mr Boo, to join in with the fun. Fun fact: Laci was the man who taught Take That to ride the unicycles in their Circus Tour, and played a major part in all the circus choreography.
The Endresz family celebrated its 25th year at the venue in 2016. Laci Endresz Jr is not only the third of his line with the same name, he is also the third generation Mooky, a clown character previously portrayed by his father, Laci Endresz Sr. Laci Sr directed the show himself until recently, when he officially handed the reins over to his two sons. He still remains heavily involved in all aspects of the casting process, travelling around the world to look for the most amazing talent.
The circus hasn’t used animals since 1990, but deep beneath the circus ring, the stables and pens used to house the creatures still remain due to the building’s listed status. It was common for locals to see the animals, which included elephants and horses, going for a morning walk along the beach, which definitely turned some heads!
In 2010, Blackpool Council purchased the tower buildings, and Merlin Entertainments took over the operation on the council’s behalf. As well as the circus, The Blackpool Tower houses The Blackpool Tower Eye, The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, The Blackpool Tower Dungeons and Jungle Jim’s.
The circus still remains the crowning jewel in The Blackpool Tower’s impressive history, and will no doubt entertain and enthral families for many, many years.