11 Mar 2016

Gandeys Circus and the Philip Astley Project...

Gandey World Class Productions is pleased to announce that Gandeys Circus has had another successful run in Liverpool this year with a brand new production for 2016 - 'Gandeys...Your Circus Awakens'. This years production takes you on a journey through the origins of circus and the Gandey family's influence on the entertainment world. Gandeys...Your Circus Awakens has had a very positive response from audiences in Liverpool and Knutsford - head over the Gandeys Circus Facebook to read the comments for yourself. Due to popular demand this years tour has also been expanded and now included Knutsford, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Birmingham in the ever growing list of venues.


Gandeys Circus is also happy to be lending our support to the Philip Astley Project The Philip Astley Committee with local celebrity Andrew Van Buren during our stay in Newcastle-under-Lyme from the 11th - 20th March. We are holding a special tribute gala evening for the project at the show on Friday 11th March. Philip Astley is  a Newcastle born man who is dubbed the "father of modern circus" for his incremental role in the design of the first 40ft circus ring in 1768, which is still the standard used around the world and here at Gandeys.

Philip Astley was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 8th January 1742, the son of a cabinet maker who went on to become a war hero, a pioneer and showman. He is written about in the works of Charles Dickens & Jane Austen, and his influence has shaped not only the world of entertainment but also his legacy is still popular in art & literature worldwide.

In 1759 Philip joined Colonel Elliot’s 15th Light Dragoons - the first Light Cavalry Regiment of the British Army. Under the direction of Lord Pembroke’s trainer he learnt a new method of horse riding, going on to excel in the art of horse training & becoming a master of equestrianism.

Philip saw active service & was quite the war time hero, being promoted to Sergeant Major during the “Seven Years War”. In 1766 he left the army - in 1768 at Halfpenny Hatch (now the White Hart pub, Cornwall Road, London) he created the first 42ft diameter “circus ring” – still the standard size used in circus around the world.

He went on to open Astley’s riding school and by 1773 he opened his first Amphitheatre building in London. He introduced for the first time the Merryman (clowns) into the circus ring, as well as jugglers, rope walkers and acrobats. In 1783 Astley built an amphitheatre building in Paris, where he died on 20th October 1814, aged 72.

Philip Astley is buried in the Paris Cemetery of Pere Lachaise. His grave is no longer visible.


The Philip Astley Project has been in the making for over 35 years and now is truly gaining a solid form with the Philip Astley committee.

The committee are a gathering of individuals who collectively bring their experience within education, historic studies & conservation, the arts, entertainment & politics together. All have the goal & purpose of gaining recognition for Philip Astley - a pioneer son of Newcastle under Lyme, giving recognition to him & reflecting his achievements in a series of events and projects not only designed to keep his amazing legacy alive, but also to enrich a town that they are all proud of – Newcastle under Lyme.


We are proud to be helping promote the life of this circus legend during our stay in Newcastle and long into the future with productions to come.

GANDEY BLOGGER