Project Description

Great Britain

The Great Britain truck body was built for the US Motorized Circus in 1917 by the Bode Wagon Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio.  In the December 12, 1942 issue of Billboard as found on page 45, George Bellis stated he was the artist and designer of all of these truck mounted tableaus. Spellman had previously signed a contract in 1917 with the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Co. of Springfield, Ohio for truck chassis. (1) According to the New York Clipper, “one hundred motor trucks have been purchased from the Kelly-Springfield people at an announced cost of $ 4,000.00 each. Sixty wooden wagons, at $2,000.00 each,  were also purchased to go with the trucks. These were bought from the Bode Wagon Co.” Frank Spellman’s US Motorized Circus finally went on the road in August of 1919 when it lasted just three days.

(1917 – Bandwagon, Sept.-Oct 1964, page 14)

(2) This truck along with all the others were re-possessed by the Kelly-Springfield Co. They removed the carved sides. In November of 1922, these sides were sold to Bob Schiller who held them from 1922 to 1924.

(1925 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 59 – photo # 44C – Fred Buchanan’s winter quarters in Granger, Iowa – Ben Kubly collection)

In 1924, the decorative body was sold to Fred Buchanan who converted this into a circus wagon. From 1924 through the final season of 1931, the wagon was on Fred Buchanan’s Robbins Bros. Circus. Once the show folded, this wagon was taken to the Wm. P. Hall farm in Lancaster, MO. From 1932 through 1934, the wagon remained at the Hall farm. In 1935, Jess Adkins and Zach Terrell bought this wagon with other equipment from Wm. P. Hall for their all new Cole Bros. Circus. Even though they bought the wagon, it remained in the Rochester, IN. winter quarters until 1938.

(1938 – Conover Set # 133 – photo 32 – William Koford photo)

It was then spruced up and used on their second unit, they called the Robbins Bros. Circus. The Robbins Bros. Circus only stayed out for the 1938 season. This wagon was then brought onto the Cole Bros. Circus for the 1939 season.

(1939 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 26 – photo # 36D – Cole Bros. Circus)

While off the road in the Rochester winter quarters, a horrible fire broke out in the shop of the Cole Bros. Circus on February 20, 1940. This wagon was one of those that was destroyed in that fire.

(1) New York Clipper, May 23, 1917, page 13

(2) Bandwagon, January / February 1962, pp. 3-9