‘Seized by an Elephant’
'Mr Thomas Race, of Speedwell Street, Deptford, who is 62, was walking past the New Cross Empire last night when an elephant which was to appear in a turn there and which was standing in a passage seized him round the waist with his trunk and threw him to the ground. Mr Race was taken to the Miller Hospital, Greenwich, and detained’ (Times, January 10 1934)
‘A Trunk Call'
'A five-year old elephant escaped from the New Cross Empire in south-east London yesterday. It was recaptured by circus hands in New Cross post office. An assistant at the post office said: ‘We had quite a queue of old-age pensioners. There was a loud trumpeting, and through the swing doors appeared an elephant. Our queue disappeared like magic into telephone boxes and on, to and over the counter. We didn’t lose even a stamp’ (Times November 16 1951)
Incidentally there are some fantastic 1930s family photos from Deptford at Lewisham Family Album, as I have mentioned before. There is mention there of circus animals sometimes being kept at Murray's Alley stables off Comet St, Deptford - either for circuses up on Blackheath or for the New Cross Empire. Somebody commenting there recalled 'Circus Elephants were once taken through the grounds of Speedwell and Comet House from the Murrays Alley Stables, I think to the New Cross Empire for the stage circus. One Elephant charged into the New Cross Post Office and a person was tragically injured. I think that was in the late l940's. Most of the children in the flats followed them through the grounds'.