British circus owner Gerry Cottle dies aged 75 after contracting coronavirus

Luke O'Reilly
·1-min read
<p>Gerry Cottle was ‘a loving family man’</p> (Getty Images)

Gerry Cottle was ‘a loving family man’

(Getty Images)

British circus owner Gerry Cottle has died aged 75 after contracting coronavirus.

Mr Cottle, who found fame during the 1970s with the touring Gerry Cottle Circus, died in hospital in Bath.

Born in 1945, he also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus in Britain during his long and illustrious career as a preformer.

His agent Mark Borkowski said in a statement: “Gerry was a loving family man who is survived by his wife Betty and three daughters and a son, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”

Gerry was described as ‘the last of the great circus showmen’PA
Gerry was described as ‘the last of the great circus showmen’PA

He added on Twitter: “RIP Gerry Cottle the last of the great circus showmen.

“In a fraction of a second the bastard virus ripped your life away. I shall never forget all the mad adventures we shared.”

When he was 15 Gerry ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circusGetty Images
When he was 15 Gerry ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circusGetty Images

Cottle planned to enter the circus trade after he saw a performance in Earl’s Court, London, at the age of eight, according to Borkowski.

When he was 15 he ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circus.

He put on the first circus show of his own in the summer of 1970 in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, with just five performers including himself.

Later in his career Cottle helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990sGetty Images
Later in his career Cottle helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990sGetty Images

Discussing the performance, he told The Daily Telegraph last year: “It was a terrible show, we did eight weeks and took no money, so we closed.”

Cottle’s performance was staged inside a second-hand tent that used to be used to sell flowers.

By that time he had learnt juggling, stilt walking, acrobatics, clowning and bareback horse riding.

Later in his career Cottle helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990s.

He retired from the circus in 2003 and bought Wookey Hole, a museum and amusement attraction in Somerset.

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