Friday, July 11, 2008


Billericay has been home to some remarkable people. Sixty years ago the late Ivor Rosaire of Circus fame (1911-2005), settled in Coxes Farm Road. Already the farm was well-known as the winter quarters of the Rosaire Circus which, before World War II, had been world famous. Some of the town’s tradesmen - including the town’s postman, - Jack Bartlett, remembers hearing the roar of animals as he came past the farm. "I also came face to face with a friendly bear one morning when delivering," he recalled. The friendly Rosaire circus folk invariably started their touring year by putting on a special Easter performance on Sun Corner.

Ivor’s niece, Joan Rosaire, was famous in her own right both in the circus world as a child circus star and later a respected horse-trainer and performer in London’s West End, has recorded her memoirs for the BBC, recalling the times when she topped the bill in London’s West End theatres with her famous horse Goldie.

Elephants were important to the circus and none more so than Salt and Sauce, who became a legend as part of George Lockhart’s famous "Cruet". Several books have been published describing their origins and lives. Jamie Chipperfield Clubb is the author of a brand-new book "The Legend of Salt and Sauce’ in which his own father, the famous animal trainer, Jim Clubb plays a vital part. In 2002 he came to Billericay to talk to Ivor and Joan about their lives in the circus as Ivor was the last person to have been involved in the training of Salt and Sauce. As Jamie recalled: "By all accounts Ivor was an extraordinary individual, even by the standards of his profession and the circus family he was born into."
Salt and Sauce came to Billericay in 1936 when Cissy Rosaire and Wally Shufflebottom married at St Mary Magdelen Church in the High Street. The elephants carried the bride and groom from the church and were photographed by the world-famous Pathe News. A year later Salt and Sauce appeared iu the film ‘Elephant Boy’. Jamie has written about Joan’s beautiful mother, Zena, who performed on the high wire, her grandfather, ‘Count’ Fred Rosaire and other talented members of the family. "Ivor was the best showman of Rosaire’s Circus. Confident, with a little amiable vanity, as though he is aware that women in the audience consider him a handsome fellow, yet he succeeds in getting everyone’s attention for Salt and Saucy, who move with trundling certainty through their series of tricks. They stand on two legs, squat on their vast haunches, and one of them, to the delight and alarm of the audience, carries Ida round the ring in her mouth. Ivor, in breeches and a sun-helmet, directs them coolly and takes his applause as his two lumbering charges leave the ring".
Jamie’s superb book is published by Aardvark Publishing and is available from good bookshops ISBN 978-1872904-36-8