Esoteric London

No. 232: New Inn Broadway, EC2

Posted in Amusements, Entertainment, Graffiti by esotericlondon on January 18, 2011

New Inn Broadway, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2010

From America Comes to London: Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show an article by Bruce Rosen on Victorian History, July 18th 2008:

On 14 April 1887, the steamship, State of Nebraska entered the Thames and anchored at Gravesend fourteen days after leaving the United States. Despite a rousing send-off with, according to Colonel William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody, thousands there to see the travellers away, the voyage was not easy, with headwinds for much of the trip. But what made this trip unusual was its passengers including nearly 100 native Americans. The weather was cold when they arrived in England, there had been snow earlier in the day, and the Indians wrapped themselves in their blankets to greet officials from the American Exhibition.

The newspapers were enthralled with the arrivals who made up a part of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” describing them as “the selected representatives of several nations, including the Sioux, the Cheyennes, and the Pawnees.” The chiefs were “reserved and dignified,” while the men were “of the highest type of physical humanity, and apparently possess[ed]all the traditional calm associated with the Indian character.” Indeed, the “Noble Savage” had come to London which was about to be taken by storm. But the most popular person in the show was Colonel William F Cody, Buffalo Bill, himself.

Many of the animals which were a part of the show were also new to Europe, and there were more than 160 horses which were to take part under the direction of Cody or “Buffalo Bill” as he was better known. The animals and cast members disembarked at Albert Dock from where they went by train to the American Exhibition at West Brompton which was scheduled to open at Earl’s Court in May. The American Exhibition had been in preparation for three years and was a privately funded project with one-third of the capital coming from English sources and the remainder from American investors. The “Wild West” show was to be the centrepiece of the exhibition, having “attained unexampled popularity” in the United States.

[In 1887 John Robinson Whitely opened Earls Court Exhibition Grounds on two acres of derelict land between the railway tracks at Earls Court. The Grounds contained gardens, pavilions, rides and an arena in which he staged Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as part of the American Exhibition, this proved to be immensely popular, drawing crowds of 15,000 daily, including in their number Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales as well as the Royalty of Belgium, Greece and Denmark. A few years later Whitely built an “Observation Wheel” on the site: a forerunner of today’s London Eye it had a diameter of 300 feet enabling its riders to see as far as Windsor Castle. R.D.]

The whole of Bruce Rosen’s article can be read here.

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