In the 1860s Charlie Keith toured France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Italy and returned to England to tour with Franconi's Circus. Despite his popularity, he found that no circus was willing to employ him under his own terms and conditions. So, in May 1868, he opened his own circus, a portable wooden building which he called Grand Cirque Imperial at Exeter, featuring his own troupe of riders, jugglers and gymnasts. Although his circus was popular, his expenses were considerable and he lost a great deal of money. Tradesmen overcharged him for work they had done for him, thinking that a circus with such large audiences was bound to be wealthy.