Circus returns to Beckenham Place Park for first time in 30 years

PUBLISHED: 11:59 12 October 2010

Ross Presto

Ross Presto


Circus illusionist Ross Presto is coming to town with his lorry load of props, including a jet engine, big boxes and ropes

The last circus to roll into Beckenham Place Park was Jimmy Chipperfield’s Circus World in 1979 – a wild cacophony of giraffes, clowns and magicians.

Three decades later, it’s the turn of The Gerry Cottle Circus to roll up, roll up on October 22 during a tour of the borough.

There won’t be any lions, horses or monkeys this time round, but acts are set to include Hitge, a solo trapeze star from Mongolia, circus clowns, the danger-dismissing Bugrovi Sisters and magic man Ross Presto.

Presto, a magician of 10 years experience, said: “My boss remembers driving the giraffe lorry to the circus – he had to be looking out for bridges all the time,” said Presto.

“That was thirty years ago but when we arrived here, the grounds man still referred to the plot as the circus area.”

The Portsmouth-born performer’s work has blossomed from years attending children’s parties as a magic clown.

Now his acts include chopping his various female assistants in half (currently Russian beauties Veronica and Oxana), making people disappear and climbing through a jet engine.

Of the latter, he said: “It’s an illusion, but the engine is real, the blades are sharp, and if you get it wrong you can lose a limb.

“We have had a couple of accidents with that one, but I still do it. I sliced my fingers and wrists in it before. I was lucky.”

Whilst the magician may be a wizard at sleight of hand there is nothing slight about the mass of equipment – three lorries full – he needs to take on David Copperfield.

“I only take one or two with me because we’re always on the road,” he said. “But that’s the best thing about being in a circus. There’s no nine to five mentality and the fun of always being in different places.

“The change in atmosphere at each place you stop is very noticeable when you perform.

“You could be in a pretty rough place and get a really explosive, noisy reaction to your performance. Go to a posher area and people react differently. I think this area is a kind of theatre-goer area?

“You never know what to expect and that is such a buzz.”

The Gerry Cottle Circus, known for having hosting the BBC’s TV Seaside Specials, is set to perform across Bromley this month.

The circus will be open at Downham from next Wednesday, October 20 to Friday, October 21 between 4.45pm and 7.30pm.

The following day it opens at Beckenham Place Park from 4.45pm to 7.30pm.

On Sunday, October 24 it opens at Bromley Road from 12.30pm to 3.30pm.

For tickets, call the booking line on 0844 4155 228 or visit

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