Roll up! Roll up! for circus memories

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ARTHUR Pinder was one of those people who had talents as soon as he could toddle.

He was a circus performer and had the bruises to prove it.

Hartlepool was his hometown from the 1940s onwards. His workplace was wherever the circus took him.

CHRIS CORDNER looks back to the day he made the headlines in 1965.

FROM the flying trapeze to juggling, Arthur Pinder could do it all.

But in a lifetime under the Big Top, performing had its hazards and the West Hartlepool man revealed them to the Mail in February 1965.

He’d had six major falls from the high wire and had seen a circus pal badly mauled by a lion. He’d seen a Big Top collapse in Hartlepool under the weight of snow.

With a name like Pinder, he was always likely to join the circus.

His forebears formed the world famous French Pinder circus. Arthur himself was born in a caravan in Cornwall when the circus was in town. His parents ran it.

He could do circus tricks as soon as he could walk. By 21, he was a trapeze artist.

He spoke to the Mail in the 1960s when the then dwindling world of the circus was featured in a movie at a Hartlepool cinema.

Our reporter said at the time: “I met him and was shown an ancient silk programme advertising the circus, and was treated to a few stories from this sprightly character.”

Arthur toured with about 36 different circuses during his career.

One of them was the West Hartlepool Tin Circus, the Mail recalled.

Others were Dick Chipperfields and another run by Rico of Darlington.

His first visit to West Hartlepool was just after the Second World War. He returned in 1947 when the Big Top came to the Rift House Recreation Ground.

The Mail said: “Arthur remembers that the weather was so bad, the tent was covered in inches of snow. It eventually collapsed.”

He explained how he managed to keep fit for so long.

“Keeping on the move for 18 hours a day would keep anyone fit.”

We would love to know more about the travelling circuses which came to Hartlepool and more about Arthur.

If you can help, contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email to or by calling (01429) 239377.