Nostalgia: Capital’s clowning glory

Members of the Blood Transfusion Service dressed in circus costume in the Evening News-sponsored Edinburgh Festival Cavalcade in August 1985
Members of the Blood Transfusion Service dressed in circus costume in the Evening News-sponsored Edinburgh Festival Cavalcade in August 1985
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RolL up, roll up. . . the circus is coming to town. Expect the usual spills and thrills – and jaw-dropping spectacle – when Zippos wheels its wonder in to the Capital later this month to set up camp at the Royal Highland Centre.

The arrival of the famous touring circus with its many international acts is bound to excite locals of all ages, bringing them out in huge numbers to soak up the atmosphere.

The Elephant Parade from Billy Smart's circus makes its way along Shandwick Place en route to Murrayfield in Edinburgh, June 1966

The Elephant Parade from Billy Smart's circus makes its way along Shandwick Place en route to Murrayfield in Edinburgh, June 1966

Such circus excitement has been strong throughout the years in Edinburgh, as shown here in August 1985 when fundraisers dressed as their favourite big top characters to take part in the Evening News-sponsored Festival Cavalcade. Taking inspiration from all things circus, this group of staff from the Blood Transfusion Service refused to let heavy rain dampen their fun as they were cheered through Princes Street by onlookers.

There was much attention too given to Billy’s Smart ­Circus when its ­Elephant ­Parade plodded along ­Shandwick Place in June 1966. Traffic was brought to a standstill as the huge animals were brought out for publicity ahead of the show’s opening night.

However, it was in August 1990 as part of a promotional stunt for the wacky French ­circus Archaos that heads truly turned in the Capital. Amid the crowds of the ­Festival on the High Street, circus ­manager Pierrot created a storm of excitement by driving a battered Renault down the thoroughfare, only for it to unexpectedly split in two in front of their eyes.

One year prior, as pictured here, the circus also drew crowds by driving a motorbike over a car on Waverley Bridge.

Controversial French circus Archaos drive a motorbike over a car on Waverley Bridge as a publicity stunt for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in August 1989.

Controversial French circus Archaos drive a motorbike over a car on Waverley Bridge as a publicity stunt for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in August 1989.