Licence for Cooke’s Circus

Mr Burlington Brumell, variety entertainer, appeared at the Dundee Police-court, on Tuesday last, in support of an application for a licence to give entertainments  in Cooke’s Circus, Nethergate. Bailies Craig and Perrie, Messrs Willshoe and Tulloch were on the bench. Mr W. B. Dickie, solicitor, spoke on behalf of the applicant, who asked that a licence for a year should be granted.

A report was read from Chief Constable Dewar which stated that the entertainments given by Mir Brumell in the same place last year were not always of a high-class character. They included sparring, and several appearances of William McGonagall, a local “character,” who was received with showers of rotten eggs and other missiles. In one competition the singers had to ride on a donkey’s back, while a bottle of Scotch whisky was offered to the person who could eat a hot dumpling quickest! Mr Dewar also informed the Court that the lease held by Mr Brumell expired on Jan. 26th next, and after that time he had no right or title to the premises.

Mr Dickie explained that the applicant had the privilege of renewing his lease in January, and he practically had the premises for three years. Mr Brumell had conducted such entertainments throughout the kingdom, and had never had any complaints, either in Dundee or elsewhere. The whisky had been offered at a benefit entertainment when Mr Brumell was absent, otherwise he would not have allowed it to be given. He would also promise that McGonagall would not he exhibited this season.

In the course of some conversation, the magistrates expressed a feeling that the distribution of prizes should be stopped altogether. Bailie Craig – who presided – said the work of that court had increased on account of the entertainments, and Mr Dewar stated that one of the “artistes” who gave a sparring performance had been frequently before them. That man had a “history” in Glasgow. He thought sparring a most objectionable kind of entertainment. Bailie Perrie said the whole thing had had a degrading effect. Bailie Craig suggested that Mr Dewar should have the right to object to any items on the playbills. Bailie Perrie – That would make Mr Dewar a kind of partner.

After some further conversation, Mr Brumell agreed to discontinue the prize system, dispense with “Poet” McGonagall, and make the entertainment of a kind that would meet with the approval of the Chief Constable. The licence was then granted till 26th January.

The Era, 24th August 1889

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