Showpeople of North Staffordshire Exhibition is open!

Free Films and brand new Talks / Lectures

The series of Free Talks, Lectures and Films is well underway in the Philip Astley Project CIC ‘Showpeople of North Staffordshire’ Exhibition, Staffordshire Film Archive are providing weekly films on alternating Thursdays at 11.00 am and Fridays at 2.00 pm.

We have a fascinating Talk / Lecture coming up on Thursday 20 July at 2.00 pm from our special guest the Fairground Historian and Fairground Society Editor Mr Stephen Smith with his talk ‘The Victorian Fair’.

“In 1874 it was claimed that the last showman will soon be as great a curiosity as the dodo. The annual fair was under threat, but the ingenuity of engineers and travelling showmen and a demand from the hard pressed working classes made sure that fairs entered a new golden era.” The fascinating talk looks at the changes which took place on the British fairground in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The free talk / lectures and film shows are in Appetite’s Newcastle Common 23 High Street, Newcastle under Lyme. (Opposite St Giles Church and Art of Siam Restaurant).


‘Show People of North Staffordshire’ is a project that has recorded stories of fairground and circus Showmen, families and workers in the area over the past few months. Members of the community were asked for their memories too and a photographer captured portraits of the families and workers, alongside current circus and fairgrounds in the area.

The Show People exhibition shares some of the stories and photographs that have been captured as part of the project. It includes a number of oral history interviews that can be listened to, a map showing current and past circus and fairground sites, related photographs and objects.

 The project is a Philip Astley Project CIC – funded by Historic England’s ‘Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class History and supported by Appetite.




A free film programme is taking place in the exhibition space once a week. All talks are 45mins with time for questions and chat at the end. The films are kindly provided by Staffordshire Film Archive.

Friday 30 June 2pm Philip Astley – the original Greatest Showman – how invented and ran his famous Circus and Amphitheatre
Thursday 6 July 11am Vintage Circus – some classic moments in Circus history caught on film over the past Century
Friday 14 July 2pm Fairgrounds on Film – all the fun of the fair and behind the scenes of fairgrounds over the past Century.
Thursday 20 July 11am

Thursday 20 July 2pm

North Staffordshire on Holiday – holiday films from local people over the years featuring North Wales and Blackpool.

Stephen Smith Talk / Lecture – ‘The Victorian Fairground’

Friday 28 July 2pm Jacob Decastro – the Clown in Astley’s company – his own story from his book about working with Philip Astley.
Thursday 3 August 11am Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show – original films from over 100 years ago when he toured the UK from his base here in North Staffordshire.
Friday 11 August 2pm The Heyday of the Big Circuses – colourful films of “The Greatest Show on Earth” from a range of famous circus families.
Thursday 17 August 11am Andrew Ducrow – equestrian star. The most famous performer to come from Astley’s original company.
Friday 25 August 2pm The Van Buren Story – the UK’s largest illusion act. This film history of the Van Burens’ career is hosted by Andrew Van Buren himself – Further information about Andrew Van Buren can be found here.


Updates can be found at: The Philip Astley Project Facebook Page & on Twitter also on both the Philip Astley Project website: and Appetite website

Staffordshire Film Archive details can be found here.

Stephen Smith talks and lectures 

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