Take Two: The day 20 elephants came to Sheffield

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Had a good weekend? It may have been better if you’d been around 115 years ago.

Then, in 1899, one of the UK’s biggest circuses had just descended on Langsett Road, Hillsborough. Barnum and Bailey brought with them an astonishing 103 wagons, 840 people, 430 horses, and 25 cages of wild animals including 20 elephants, 18 camels and four zebras.

These were the days before political correctness, of course. Among other attractions were an Egyptian giant – standing 7ft 11in – and a Japanese lady whose selling point was that she had no arms.


And another relevant anniversary?

In these final few weeks before the Tour de France arrives in the city, it was actually 145 years ago yesterday that Sheffield’s first cycling group was set up.

Hundreds of people attended the opening night of The Sheffield Velocipede Club, at the Pomona pub in Ecclesall Road, to watch demonstrations of two penny-farthings.


And talking of the Tour de France, is anyone else – dare one say it – already bored by the whole thing?

All this fuss and faff – and a £900,000 bill – for a bike race that lasts less than a day and which crowds will see five minutes of? All these claims that it will have tourists flocking here to see Wincobank Hill or whatever? It’s madness, isn’t it? It’s worse than madness. It’s the Olympic Torch relay all over.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s great Sheffield shows the ambition to host a global event, but must we suffer such a convoluted build-up so far in advance?