The Story of Sangers Wagon

Sangers is a very rare 19th century 'Burton' style showmans wagon built for circus or fairground folk. Originally she would have run on wooden wheels with iron rims and at 23 feet long is unusual in size as most of this style wagon were 16 to 18 feet at most. She would have originally been pulled by 4 horses and later by steam traction engine.

We bought Sangers from showman Colin Cheeseman's Winter Yard in Hoddesdon just north of London in 2012. Colin who was 75 and his brother had both been born in the wagon and his mother had lived in her up until the early 2000's.

His father had been the fairgrounds carpenter and ran the laughing clown stall. He had bought the wagon in the late 1920's and converted her into the style of a 1930's 'Brayshaw' wagon by panelling the exterior. This in fact help preserve the wagons original exterior and scroll work.

We spent the next 6 years restoring the wagon to her original condition. Replacing the rear main beam, roof and exterior wall panels where water damage had got in, striping back layers of paint and making wonderful discoveries. Sangers gets her name from one such discovery. While removing the rear main roof we found a small piece of folded paper which had been placed in the 'Bird Mouth' joint of a roof truss, this could only have been placed her during the original building of the wagon. It was a ticket for Lord John Sangers Circus, Lord John Sanger and his brother George, were two of the largest Circus impresarios of the Victorian era which continued until the 1950's.After further research we found that John and his brother had started in circus with a 100 white horses. These were very special to John, so much so that on his tomb in Margate cemetery is a sculpture of a white horse. You will notice on the wagon doors the original etched glass window has a rearing white horse! We have not been able to find out whether this wagon belonged to Lord John Sanger or one of his family but the original owners would have been wealthy.

The ticket found under the roof beams 'Bird Mouth' joint