Title: Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

Periodical: Manchester Times

Date: December 3, 1887

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The Wild West Show of Buffalo Bill will make its appearance in Manchester on the 12th December. The London season was over some time ago, and for a week or two past the show has had its home in Birmingham. Winter quarters will be found in Manchester, and for five months to come we may expect to live in the atmosphere of the prairies of the far west. The preparations now in progress at the racecourse are on a colossal scale. It is seriously meant, now that the Exhibition is over, to provide an attraction which will take the place of the great summer resort of Lancashire. Since the Exhibition closed, the existence of an aching void has no doubt been seriously felt by pleasure seekers. Colonel Cody, or Buffalo Bill, comes amongst us to supply us with amusement during the winter season, and to repeat the splendid triumph of the summer. Cowboys and Indians and the rest of his picturesque train reached Manchester yesterday. For some days they will enjoy the theatrical and other pleasures which the city affords. During the summer the Indian pitched his tent out of doors at night, and struck it each morning. With the rigours of our English winter he will need something more to protect him than a strip of canvas, with the starry canopy overhead. Accordingly, a large and substantial building has been put up, with a plentiful supply of steam pipes; and here the aboriginal may nightly pitch his moving tent and smoke the calumet of peace.

The building at the racecourse we have described as of colossal proportions. It is not yet by any means completed, but the contractors, Messrs. R. Neill and Sons, have promised that it shall be quite ready by the 12th of next month, and what Messrs. Neill promise is sure to be performed. The building, with its stage accessories, will cost no less than £15,000. There will be sitting accommodation for some 9,000 or 10,000 people, and standing room for 4,000 or 5,000 more. In addition to all this, an enormous arena is reserved for the operations of hunters and buffaloes, together with a stage space of which even a wing would suffice to put an ordinary theatre stage to shame. A few bare facts will convey some little idea of the extent of the structure. The main building is some 400 feet long, and with the camp 600 feet. The height is 80 feet. The stage arena is 290 feet, extending from the middle of the building to the end of the stage, and the width is from 110 feet to 180 feet. The extreme width of the building is 250ft. The camp is a wooden building, lined with asbestos. In the rear of the main building there is a separate structure in which the wild buffaloes, the steers, the bears, and other animals will be housed; while the ordinary stables of the racecourse will be used for the accommodation of the horses, numbering 250 in all. The entertainment will be more of a theatrical character than was the case in London. As a matter of fact the show is a considerable development of the metropolitan idea. Mr. R. Mansell and Mr. Calder, the chief members of the Manchester syndicate who have the arrangements in hand, have a fine eye to theatrical effect, and have provided scenic attractions on a stupendous scale. It is too soon as yet to describe the different surprises in store. We may, however, state that the scenery of forest and prairie, which is now lying about in enormous heaps, covers not yards but miles of canvas, and that Mat Morgan is the artist who has painted it. Great care has been taken to arrange the proper perspective and to produce striking dramatic effects. With scenery weighing tons, powerful and mechanical apparatus is of course required; and the arrangements in this respect are very complete. One of the most realistic effects will be the representation of a tornado. Indeed, it will not be a representation merely, but within a limited area a real tornado. Three 6ft. Blackman air propellers have been put down, revolving 400 times a minute, and scudding the air away at the rate of about 50 miles an hour. An ordinary stage earthquake or railway collision will, we are informed, hardly bear mentioning in the same breath as this prairie tornado. These terrible propellers will create such an atmospheric disturbance as entirely to upset the Deadwood coach, and to lay on his back any unwary person within reach. We shall also be treated to the spectacle of one of those prairie fires with which Captain Mayne Reid and Fenimore Cooper so fill the youthful imagination. In fact we shall have the action of our schoolboy tales before us, and be able to read again with fuller appreciation of the daring of Uncas, the last of his tribe, and the wilyness of Chingachgook. These are simply hints of what is to come. We shall have more to say when the Delawares and Sioux and Crow Feet, or whatever tribes the Indians belong to, come among us, and give us their realistic entertainment.

A few further facts with regard to the vast building require still to be stated. The architects are Messrs. Mangnall and Littlewood, of Manchester. The lighting will be chiefly by electricity, but gas will also be used. The electric power is supplied by the Brush Electric Light Co. Messrs. Hornby provide the steam power, and Mr. Austin Walter the calcium lights. The upholstering is done by Mr. G. P. Taylor, of the Louvre Furnishing Establishment, All Saints. There are no less than 16 exits, and at the close of each performance every one will be put in use. Elaborate precautions against fire are being taken. A great deal of asbestos will be in use, and an iron curtain runs in front of the stage. Very careful attention is being paid to the heating of the building, so that visitors may sit in comfort. It should be stated that Mr. J. M. Burke (Arizona John), the general manager for Col. Cody, is now in Manchester supervising the preparations for the stirring show which will shortly be located at the racecourse. The Mayor of Salford (Mr Ald. Dickens) and some of the magistrates for the borough have visited the ground and inspected the building.