William Frederick Cody, perhaps better known as Buffalo Bill, brought his ‘Wild West’ show to Horsham on Wednesday June 15th 1904. See below for all of the tour dates for June. When the three special trains had delivered 500 horses and 800 people the doors opened for performances at 1.00 pm and 7.00 pm.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was on show in Jew’s Meadow, now the Merryfield Drive area, in Horsham. It was part of a tour that began on April 25th in Stoke on Trent and finished in Hanley in October. Ticket prices ranged from 1/- to 7/6 (one shilling to ‘seven and six’ equals 5p to 37.5p [2006: £3.70 to £27.77]. Tickets for less than 4/- were only available on the day. S Price & Co at 48 West Street (most recently the Early Learning Centre) was selling the higher priced tickets from 09:00 am on the day.
The show featured cowboys and Native Americans as well as performers from South America, the Middle East and Japan. Perhaps the most unusual act was a cowboy cyclist named Carter who leapt 56 feet after descending a ramp.
William Cody was born on February 26th, 1846 which made him 58 years old by the time he was in Horsham, the show being in its 21st year. He was nicknamed Buffalo Bill when he was supplying bison meat to the workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
The event was advertised in the West Sussex County Times (WSCT) dated 11th June, see image below. The show was billed as ‘Now making its Absolutely Final Tour of Great Britain’ and went on to mainland Europe for the following two years. Note that in 1904 the Native American people were still referred to as Indians, this is in both the advertisement and WSCT report below.
The WSCT dated 18th June carried a report of the show, the text of which is below, reproduced verbatim complete with capitalisation and punctuation as written.
Report from the West Sussex County Times:
BUFFALO BILL AT HORSHAM
A BIG ATTRACTION
Exceptional interest was shown at Horsham on Wednesday in the visit of Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. The Show was held in the Jew’s Meadow, at the western end of the town, and attracted people from a wide district, whilst locally the arrival and also the departure of the famous scout, with his troops and horses, appeared to the many persons quite an important event. For the time being the camping ground proved a great attraction. The weather, though somewhat unsettled, was on the whole fine, and the show was well patronised.
The chief items of an interesting programme were the Grand Review, in which the congress of rough riders of the world was introduced by Colonel W. F. Cody ; “Buffalo Bill’s” feats of shooting whilst on horseback ; a prairie emigrant train crossing the plains (and being attacked by Indians) ; Mexicans exhibiting their skill with the lasso ; Johnny Biker, the celebrated young American marksman ; Custer’s last fight ; Cowboys and Cossacks feats of horsemanship ; attack on the Deadwood Mail Coach by Indians ; and the wonderful bicycle leap through space. In the last-named, Carter, the Cowboy Cyclist, jumped, whilst on his bicycle, across a space of 56 feet, after coming down a steep incline to attain the required momentum. The feat, at both the afternoon and evening performance, was immensely popular and was enthusiastically applauded.
Minor but very interesting events comprised an exhibition of the various methods of riding (by a Cowboy, a Cossack, a Mexican, an Arab and a North American Indian); artillery drill by veterans of the U.S. Artillery ; saving lives from the wreck by use of mortar and lifeline ; Pony Express riding ; the horse thief ; veterans from the 6th U.S. Cavalry, in military exercises and practice exhibition ; racing by Indian boys on bareback horses ; and Ranch Life in the West—a settler’s cabin attacked by Indians. The Japanese jugglers and acrobats feats were greatly appreciated. “Buffalo Bill” (Hon. W. F. Cody), who was afforded a great reception, is now 58, having been born in Scott County, Iowa, on February 26th, 1848. His splendid marksmanship, breaking objects thrown in the air while riding a horse at full speed, showed on Wednesday last that his eye and nerve have not lost their cunning
A poster from the time publicises the event. The text on the poster reads:
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West
and congress of rough riders of the world.
Col. W. F. Cody
at every performance
A company of wild west cowboys. The real rough riders of the world whose daring exploits have made their very names synonymous with deeds of bravery
The tour dates for June 1904 wer:
11: High Wycombe
16: Lewes Sussex
17: Redhill Surrey
22: St. Albans
30: Great Grimsby