Friday, 17 March 2017

Two elephants, a farmer’s son and a travelling circus Part One

Now the reason why Robert Bailey rode an elephant here in Chorlton in the summer of 1942 had a lot to do with the family farm. 

The Bailey farm was at the bottom of Sandy Lane and ran along St Werburgh’s Road and had a large enough supply of water to satisfy the thirst of the two elephants.

The Bailey’s also owned the land where the circus camped.

It was the strip of land which ran along the side of the railway track all the way from St Werburgh’s Road to Wilbraham Road.

And when the circus moved on the Bailey's left their cattle to graze there.

Photographs of the animals  on the land are in the local collection of Manchester Libraries and just to underline the point another photograph contains the sign “Beware of the Bull.”

Nor were these pictures from some distant past but were taken in 1959. Oliver Bailey remembers also driving pigs from the railway station along the roads to the farm.

Picture; Wilbraham Road m18513, Landers 1959, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,


  1. This circus is still going strong - every year it comes to Weston-super-Mare!

  2. I lived in St Weburghs and used to take my children to see the pigs at Baileys Farm. We also got eggs from Mrs Bailey. If the wind was in the right direction and it was a warm day the smell was quite pungent by our house.

  3. I was six when we moved to Chorlton from Greenheys. We used to live on Parkfield Street on the corner of Great Western Street. When we moved to Chorlton, I used to walk to the shops from our house on Kings Rd (just a few doors away from Matt Busby's house) to Chorlton to the shops. We used to pass this site which is now occupied by Adastral House flats. When I was little, I was convinced that we'd moved to the countryside, partly because there was so much greenery in Chorlton. There was a grass verge in the centre of Mauldeth Rd, there were still five working farms in Chorlton including the one that was at the back of Chorlton High Upper School. But I think what must have persuaded me most was this scene of cows grazing in this field which we would have passed on the way to the shops.