Zoo animals paraded through the city

The Albert
The Albert
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I was intrigued by the letter from my mate Ron Clayton, regarding an enquiry from Jean Gregory of Stannington to Ron on her seeing elephants on Castlegate.

This may help or give an insight of what Sheffielders used to have and enjoy.

The Albert Hall stood in Barker’s Pool, where John Lewis now is. It was a large concert hall that could accommodate more than 2,000 paying patrons.

It was opened in 1873 and held magic lantern shows plus live acts performed by the stars of the day.

They also put on shows featuring a circus and its acts, as did the Empire in Charles Street. It was not uncommon seeing the zoo animals being paraded through the city to the Albert Hall.

The elephants would be held in a queue on Backfields, they would then be led up to Division Street and on to the Albert Hall ready for their performance.

The hall was turned into a full-blown cinema after the First World War and concerts and such ended, because moving pictures were a great thing to see on a screen.

Live shows were reintroduced in the 1930s which were welcomed by the people of the city.

On July 14, 1937 the hall caught fire and the inside was completely wrecked and the only option was demolition.

The site was just an empty lot until Cole Brothers built a store there.

I cannot say that this will answer Jean Gregory’s enquiry but it may help. You have to remember that if she saw the pachyderms in Castlegate, they may have just arrived at the Victoria Station goods yard and possibly brought up from the fairgrounds below the Victoria Station Approach.

Don’t forget that Lizzie, Ward’s elephant was stabled at the Royal Exchange Buildings where the dogs home was along with a vets and stabling facilities.

I must remind Ron to keep a tether on Harvey as he keeps waking me up after a night’s gargling.

Vin Malone

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