Nostalgia: Cowboys and Indians on Tuesday...it must be Leamington
THE day Buffalo Bill came to Leamington - complete with his Wild West show of genuine ex-cowboys, native Indians, Mexican gauchos, sharp-shooters and 580 horses, left a lasting impression on the town.
Not least on the memory of teenager Laura Emma Staite, who in June, 1903, was staying with her aunt at The Red House pub when she was woken by the arrival of the early morning circus making its way up the Radford Road.
Except this was no circus.
Not according to Colonel W.F. Cody - better known as Buffalo Bill - who did so much to preserve the traditions and skills of the fast-disappearing American west and present them to the rest of the world.
His was an exhibition, as much as a show.
“This is not the imitation of fancy, but the stupendous realism of facts,” insisted the colonel, whose crew set up in Mr Horlick’s field, just off the Radford Road, to prepare for the two performances on Tuesday, June 23.
Of course, being a showman, Buffalo Bill - who once rode alongside future American president Roosevelt during a war on Cuba - couldn’t resist throwing a few Russian Cossacks into the mix alongside a troop of British cavalrymen who may, or may not, have been part of the Relief of Mafeking.
The nearly 800-strong party disembarked from three special trains at Leamington station before making their way along the Radford Road.
Sydenham milkman Paul Springthorpe, is the great-grandson of Laura Staite, later Laura Bradshaw, who died in 1964. He’s never forgotten his great-grandmother’s excitement when she retold the story of how the Wild West came parading down the road before her very eyes.
And what a sight it must have been.
As they shot, rode, roped, marched, war-danced and whooped through Coventry, Rugby, Leamington and Banbury the paying audiences could only stand and stare, open-mouthed.
This was an exhibition as much as a show.
As the legendary Indian fighter proudly proclaimed: “All my cowboys have actually spent their lives on the western plains, while the Redskin Braves have been secured by special permission from the United States government.
“I am personally responsible for their care and comfort during their stay in England and for their safe return to the reservations at the conclusion of this exhibition.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Leamington
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North west