Noel Drewe Collection

Scope and Content

The collection of his Circusama films comprises over 100 films with circus as their subject matter, on Super 8, 9.5mm and 16mm format film. The many wonderful titles include 'Chumming with Animals', 'Chimps, Champs and Chumps', 'Circus of Fear', 'Jealousy at the Circus' and many others.

Administrative / Biographical History

Noel Drewe was not only a circus historian and collector but he was also an avid film enthusiast with a keen flair for filmmaking. What makes this collection so unique aside from the scope and quality of material is the accompanying notes he made, spanning several decades of impassioned collection and observations. These commonly included both his own reaction to the film and any press information he gathered relating to the material.

His correspondence with the archive, always of a meticulous, scholarly nature has been priceless to the research of the NFA since he first got in contact in 1995. In 2001 Noel contacted the NFA to ask if we would be willing to take his collection of circus and fairground films on deposit so that this material could be preserved for future generations. With the help of his friend Derek Phillips, arrangements were made to transfer this invaluable collection to Sheffield and a process of preservation was planned.

His collection consists of a dazzling array of both amateur and professional moving image material on a multitude of formats. Several films in the collection, Noel made himself with the help of his father Frank and date as far back as 1937. These short films shot on 8mm feature an eclectic mix of fairground experiences, finely illustrating the pleasures of Battersea fun fair, Southend-on-Sea, Kent seaside, Folkstone, Clacton and Southsea on excellent Kodachrome colour film stock.

This material continues to be a source of ongoing research and enduring fascination. It formed the wonderful backdrop for the touring exhibition Pleasurelands that opened in Sheffield in 2003 and continued until 2005 and is also currently being assessed for a digitisation project.


Items listed according to type

Conditions Governing Access

VHS items are available to view by prior appointment. Other items are not able to be viewed. The paperwork is currently being catalogued. Please contact the NFA prior to visit.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the NFA by Noel Drewe

Other Finding Aids

List of items available in the NFA reading room

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Jane Donaldson


Personal Names