Bertram Wagstaff Mills was born in 1873 in Paddington, London. His father, Halford Mills, was an undertaker – a “pioneer of embalming” and one of the first undertakers in England to offer cremation.
Bertram, a very keen horse rider, fought in WW1 rising to the rank of Captain. After leaving the Army he had a bet with a friend that he could form a circus company within a year. He did, and the Bertram Mills International Circus was formed.
It didn’t take long for the circus to become a household name especially for its annual Christmas event at Olympia. Mills always invited hundreds of orphans to come and see the show for free. The Royal Family and Winston Churchill were also regular annual guests.
When Bertram Mills died in April 1938 his sons took over the business maintaining its popularity until the early 1960s when it failed to compete with television.
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