“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” Travelling Show – September 1904
During the 1904 tour of the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” travelling show, the touring company passed through Ormskirk on the way to Southport from the previous venue in Wigan.
September 30th 1904 the main body of the show travelled by several dedicated trains from Wigan through to Southport but the stagecoach and several dozen of the show riders paraded through the town, no doubt to create some publicity.
The show travelled from New York to Liverpool in Spring 1904 and then used 4 special trains to travel to the first venue, Stoke on Trent.
The 1904 UK tour began in Stoke on 25th April and after performances in England, Scotland and Wales and 132 towns the tour ended in Hanley, Staffordshire on October 21st. A total of 4114 miles of train travel took the performers around the country and the shows were hugely well attended.
There had been an earlier tour during 1902/03 but the nearest it came to Ormskirk was Liverpool and local people had waited for the return of the show and lined the streets to watch the different riders parade past.
There weren’t just ‘Cowboys and Indians’ in the show, as it had been previously, this time there were Cossack horsemen from Georgia, Mexican Vaqueros, Turks, Argentine Gauchos, Arab Spahis (Horse Soldiers) , and Mongolian riders. The parade must have been colourful and spectacular.
Oglala Lakota Sioux were a huge part of the show and performed throughout the history of the Buffalo Bill shows giving some thrilling performances that must have had crowds mesmerised and enthralled, especially the young children watching the show. Although Sitting Bull had left the show a decade or more earlier, his son, Young Sitting Bull did apparently appear in this tour.
After leaving Southport the tour went on to Leigh and newspaper accounts of the event still survive.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has created a small display and booklet on the tour and the show which will be available to view at our exhibition in Skelmersdale Library on Saturday 28th November 2015. Please call in for a chat and to see our growing mobile exhibition.