Portable circus patent

Portable circus patent

Charlie Keith patented the idea of a 'new travelling building for a circus' in 1882. He disliked working in conventional touring tents which inevitably leaked and were uncomfortable for performers and audience, so instead had built substantial but temporary wooden structures wherever he went. Having established the patent in February, Keith began work on the design, and spent approximately £2,000 on the project, a huge amount for his day. By April he had opened for business in Huddersfield, in what The Manchester Guardian newspaper described as 'The Greatest Novelty of the Present Age'. The circus consisted of a ring of ten 'monster' carriages with cushioned seating, and a canvas covering above the ring and seating, held up by a central pole. The carriages were beautifully painted inside, with doors at either end so that one could walk around the whole ring without stepping outside. The circus was fitted with gas lighting and could hold an audience of about 1,500.