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I am trying to find information on an old lion tamer called Clem Merk. I’m afraid I dont have alot of information other than he ended his days travelling with Bob Fossett’s circus which was then based in Northampton. I know he was twice married, his second wife being Violet (who I believe was a trapeze artist in her youth). His son from the 1st marriage is David Merk (who trained bears, and his daughter from 2nd marriage is called Clementina (Tina) who is a dancer based in Cromer, England. Any information you could give me would be great.

Many thanks. Erika Clayson

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I knew Clem in his later days, knew violet very well, met Tina several times. Used to spend hours listening to clems caravan at Hopping Hill, Northampton. Lovely man, honoured that he called me a friend. He nicknamed me horsey Fred.

Fred Lawman

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I knew Clemens for the last 15 years of his life and spent many hours with him at hopping hill Northampton listening to his fascinating stories. We became good friends and I have a few Priceless stories. Clemens was one of the nicest and interesting people I have ever met.

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Clem’s first wife was Doris Morley. She was a dancer and lived in Altrincham Cheshire. She was my mother’s sister.

Pat

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Hello all, Thank you for your responses. I didn’t check for ages because Gloria (married to Clem’s son Dave) found some lovely information and passed it on. I think the word got around that I was asking. So thank you. The reason I asked is because I am the mother of Reece (16) and Abigail Merk (12) (Clem’s great-great grand-children), and I wanted them to have some history. Reece was only young when he died and I was pregnant with Abi. Would you mind if I kept your email addresses for them, so they may be able to contact you in the future?

Erika Clayson

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A foto of Clem Merk you can find on ww.circusmuseum.nl/eng Type “merk” in the search area.

Herman Voogd

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No response to my Clem Merk message. Would love to hear from any circus fans. Travelled with John Duffys circus as a child. One of the acts was the armless wonder and his beautiful wife.

Terry

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My mother now 93 tells me Clem worked with my dad in Belfast during the war.

Terry

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Hi, my name is Terry Cooney. I lived in Macroom Co. Cork, Ireland as a child. I knew Clem Merk. My dad was bandsman with both Duffys and Fossets circus. He would stop the parade at our house which was very exciting. I heard he had passed away but his wife is still alive.

Teresa Cooney

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‘Uncle Clem’ was my sister Yvonne fossett’s Godfather. Can I tell you anything?

Brian Fossett

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This question should be directed to the Circus Friends Association of Great Britain, as with all other British circus inquiries. Dr. John Turner’s two volumes of Victorian Arena offer some undocumented information on 19th century British performers and owners, and Toole-Stott’s six volume bibliography offers some leads, but the best prospects for success are to contact the British CFA. Their publication, King Pole, often has articles of considerable value on British circus topics in the 20th century.

Fred Dahlinger, Jr., Director of Historic Resources and Facilities, Circus World Museum

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