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Lioness Escapes at Fair O' Blair

Lioness Escapes at Fair O' Blair

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1905 - Lioness Escape


Fair O' Blair

The Wellmeadow

Lioness Escapes at Fair O' Blair

When the African plains came to the Wellmeadow

There have been many memorable episodes in the history of Blairgowrie and Rattray, but none more memorable than the escape of a lioness at the Fair o’ Blair.

On 25th July 1905 Chipperfield’s Circus and Menagerie was in town to be part of the entertainment at the annual Fair o’ Blair in the Wellmeadow. Earlier in the day, a large crowd had enjoyed the Highland Games in a local park, but had made their way to the Wellmeadow to be entertained by Chipperfield’s Lion Tamer, whose performance was due to take place around 6pm. 

Imagine the scene of terror, when, as the Lion Tamer entered the lions’ cage, one animal, a lioness, managed to escape. Everyone made frantic efforts to avoid the beast with some people taking refuge inside shops around the Wellmeadow. The lioness was on the loose for at least 15 minutes of mayhem before being cornered and shot dead by Mr Mitchell, the police chief.

Unfortunately, two people were injured by stray bullets. A Chipperfield’s Circus attendant was shot in the ankle, and one Mrs Thorn received an injury when a bullet passed  through the door of the shop in which she was hiding. 

Image Courtesy Clare McMicking, CraicN Communications
Claws/Cufflinks Courtesy of the late Mrs Anne Brown

The claws of the lioness were set in gold and fashioned into a pair of cufflinks by a local jeweller. These were presented to the police chief as a reward for his bravery. Mr Mitchell’s granddaughter bequeathed the cuff links to Perth Museum, with the proviso that, when Blairgowrie has its own museum, the cuff links will be returned to the town.  In 2013 the cuff links were on display in a local jeweller’s shop window, where they were of great interest.

Read The Blairgowrie Lioness poem here.

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