Similar items over time

Digital Photograph - Holden Brothers Circus, Five Men Repairing a Model T Ford & Boy Crouching on Ground, 1920s Image Reg. No: MM 111170

Black and white image of a group of men repairing a Model T Ford motor car that has broken down on the side of the road in the 1920s.

The car was being used to transport the Holden Brothers Circus from place to place for performances. This photograph demonstrates one of the difficulties of travelling with the circus after it began to use cars and trucks for transport: break-downs 'out in the middle of nowhere.' The family believes in this case there was probably a front axle problem, not a flat tyre.

The group included, left to right: unknown man, Ernie Gordon Holden, Harry McKenzie, Adolphus Holden, unknown man. The boy in foreground is probably another of the Holden brothers, Lenny Holden.

Adolphus Holden was the founder of Holden Brothers Circus. Adolphus and his brother Ernie performed as the Flying Gordons, and Harry Mackenzie also sometimes performed with the Flying Gordons, doing a three bar trapeze act. Harry Mackenzie also travelled for performances with Perry Brothers Circus, Wirths Circus and Ashtons Circus.

According to the Holden family, the Holden Brothers Circus was founded in Melbourne in 1892 by Adolphus Holden. As a youth, Mr A Holden lost a leg in a railway accident near the Royal Melbourne Zoo. His family note that 'He overcame that hardship to achieve fame as an athlete, circus proprietor, animal trainer, acrobat and sensational aerial loopist and triple horizontal bar performer.' His family consisted of 10 sons and 1 daughter. In the early days the circus was transported by horse and wagons, then in the mid-1920s the circus began using motor vehicles. The original members of the Flying Gordons were Adolphus Holden and Ernie Holden. Ernie Gordon Holden was acclaimed as being the first and greatest rope spinner in Australia, in one cast of the lassoo he roped in as many as seven horses and their riders. The world famous Flying Jordans Troupe also toured with the circus for a time. The family state that 'Over the years Holden Bros Circus gained a great reputation and goodwill throughout the country.'
Description Of Content:
Five men clustered around a Model T Ford on the side of the road. Two men are making repairs and the other three are watching. A small boy crouches on the ground, head in hands, in the foreground. All are wearing hats. A tyre is lying on the ground in left foreground. A shovel and pieces of wood are lying on the ground near the boy. A piece of wood is being used as a block in front of the back tyre to prevent the car from moving. Fences and trees are in the background.
Acquisition Information:
Copied from Mr Dennis Ryan, 2006
Discipline: History

More information

Tagged with: holden brothers circus, circuses, motor cars, travel, tyres, repairs maintenance, from the shape of the bonnet, steering column windscreen it is not a model t ford
Themes this item is part of: Holden Brothers Circus, Leisure Collection, Working Life & Trades Collection, Melbourne's Biggest Family Album Collection
Primary Classification: RECREATION & TOURISM
Secondary Classification: Performing Arts - Circuses
Tertiary Classification: transport
People Depicted: unknown man; Holden, Ernie; Mackenzie, Harry; Holden, Adolphus; unknown man; Holden, probably Lenny
Organisations Depicted: Holden Brothers Circus
Format: Digital Still Image: Black & White; Tiff
Place & Date Depicted: Victoria, Australia, 1920s

Source of Date Depicted: Based on the date the Holden family began to use cars and trucks as transport, and also based on the ages of people in the photograph. The location is unknown by the family.
Photographer: Mrs Doris Holden
Organisation Depicted: Holden Brothers Circus, Australia, 1920s
References: Information has been updated via DC Enquiry 68154, 68248, 68249.


Nick Walmsley Posted on 10 Sep 2012 4:02 AM
This definitely isn't a Model T Ford - it looks like a British-built Humber, circa 1912.
Ali Dee Posted on 16 Dec 2013 6:28 PM
Flying Jordons or Flying Gordons?
Gregory Schirmer Posted on 30 Apr 2014 8:06 PM
The man standing up on the left side is my Grandfather Henry Thomas (Harry) Mackenzie.

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.
Yes No