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JAMES ALEXANDER (The Australian Blondin)
 
Family Trees ALEXANDER A
Pedigree Chart 1 (Sister of Ellen Alexander)
Parents Alexander Alexander & Jean Munro

This is a work in progress

Who is the real Australian Blondin? The French daredevil and tight-rope walker, Blondin who became world renowned in his time for his famous crossing of Niagara Falls by tight-rope in 1859. A aerobatic artist of possibly equal daring was James Alexander, who was born in 1860 at Geelong, Victoria[1]. By the age of 17 years, he had taken up the career of a tight-rope walker, wire walker,  and trapeze artist, which would last from 1877 to 1901[2], and would take him to America[3]. He would become known in his own country as the Australian Blondin. Now before I go on, I must state that he was not the only aerobatic artist to be known or referred as the Australian Blondin.

I first came interested in James Alexander by way of my Dad and I researching our ancestor Ellen Alexander (my Great Grandmother). Researching her has been plain and simple, and I say this with a sense of irony, since the people around her are quite mysterious, but more on that later. Ellen was born on the 6th of December 1858, at Bream Creek, Victoria[4]. She was either the eight or ninth child of Alexander Alexander and his wife Jane (nee Munro). They were married in Scotland in 1845 at Alyth in Perthshire[5]. They had there first child Jane born in 1846 and baptised at Alyth[6]. In 1848, Alexander, Jane and daughter Jane, set sail for Australia on the Bermondsey[7]. While on board another child Alexander was born. The family arrived on the docks in Geelong in December 1848 to start a new life in Australia. It was on a visit to Geelong in 1991, that I discovered a reference to James Alexander, the Geelong Blondin and within days, while at a microfilm reader in the State Library of Victoria was I to place him as the brother of Ellen. Both James and Ellen would have grown close in childhood as they were the only surviving children of similar age. The other surviving children were their eldest sister Jane and there's the mysterious Ann or Annie. It was reported in one newspaper article, that Ellen would often accompanies her brother when he was performing[8]. Ellen married Herbert William Meller (my Great Grandfather) in 1882 at Ultimo, near Sydney, New South Wales. When she died young in 1906, leaving my Grandmother without a mother at age three, James Alexander was present at his sister funeral.

Herbert William Meller was a widower when he married Ellen, surprisingly his first wife was Ann Alexander (spelt Alexandre on the marriage certificate). The birth and death of Ann are quite mysterious, because both have never been found. Ann is listed as a sibling on Ellen's birth certificate aged eleven and a half. This would give her birth around May in 1847 or before. She appears between Jane, aged twelve and two thirds and Alexander aged eleven in the order of the siblings. So it seems that Ann was living as child of Alexander and Jane, but was not there child since her birth predates the voyage of the Bermondsey. On Ann's daughter's birth certificate[9], it states that Ann is aged 42 years and was born at Melbourne, herself being the informant. This would put her birth from 1847-1848, which fits in with the reference of her age on Ellen's birth certificate. I find this acceptable because when Alexander Alexander immigrated at Geelong, he had a Uncle and Cousin in the colony (New South Wales, which also included, what would become Victoria). These two relatives have never been identified. What happen to Ann is not known, if she died, then her death or burial has not be found.

About 4 years ago a relative (Descendant of Herbert William and Ann Alexander) sent me some information that they had on the family. I received a copy of a portrait of James Alexander plus several cuttings of Historical features from Newspapers[10]. Both historical features mention about a tightrope walker named Henry L'Estrange who was called the Australian Blondin. He is mentioned in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in January 1877.  It is evident that the careers of Henry L'Estrange and James Alexander parallel each other. They both perform in Sydney in 1877. Henry L'EStrange is said to have plans to visit America with intensions on crossing Niagara Falls[11]. Eight years later, James Alexander is said to have had a successful tour of America. 

The Historical Features also mention another thing. It says that Henry L'EStrange was named James Alexander, born in 1842 in Fitzroy, Victoria. Part of this information would appear to be correct, as an article in a Sydney newspaper say that he was apparently 30 to 35 years of age and was born at Fitzroy. This article makes no reference to James Alexander. This brings up three possibilities. The first is that the author (name not given in Historical feature) is correct, and there is information unknown to myself saying that Henry L'EStrange is James Alexander, born in 1842 to 1847 at Fitzroy. Secondly the author has wrongly concluded that Henry L'Estrange is the same person as James Alexander, who both mentioned at different times in 1877 in the Sydney newspapers. Thirdly, Henry L'Estrange could be James Alexander's early stage name and after being billed as Henry L'Estrange, The Australian Blondin, dropped the first part to become the Australian Blondin. I feel a thorough search of Newspapers from 1877 to 1879 may prove the existence or not of if there are two James Alexander's known as the Australian Blondin. 

Henry L'Estrange made Australian Aviation history as the first person in Australian to use a parachute. This happen on the 14th? of April 1879, above the Agricultural Society's Ground in Melbourne, while he was demonstrating his gas filled Balloon called Aurora[12]. Because of mis-calculations he made, due to an earlier failed attempt in Sydney in January, the balloon ascended at an accelerated rate and soon the balloon was at an altitude of approximately 9000 feet, when the balloon burst. Henry L'Estrange parachuted safely, landing in a Gum tree in the Government Domain. Another spectacular feats was his crossing of Middle Harbour, between Northbridge and Cammeray on a 425 metre tightrope[13]. I would like to suggest, that this is one of the longest tightrope and wire walks, from that era. This is 55 metres longer than the span at Niagara.

Jean-Francois Gravelet, who called himself Blondin, crossed Niagara Falls on a 370 metre tightrope in 1859 to an audience of 50000 spectators[14]. This would win him fame around the world. He toured Australia in 1874 and again from 1875 to 1876. From this time onwards there would be a few Australian tightrope and wire walkers who called them self the Australian Blondin. I will list the the ones I know here:

  1. Signor Vortelli; Career 1865-1867, Crossed a rope above a waterfall a Mount Lofty in South Australia[14][15]
  2. Henry L'Estrange, born 1842, Fitzroy; Career from 1875-1880 (Historical feature say he was James Alexander)
  3. James Alexander, born 1860, Geelong; Career from 1877-1901
  4. Onzalo. Career 1880-1887[15]
  5. George Hucker, born 1852, Indented Head, Victoria. Career ?

I will be adding more to this essay at a later date. I am going to carry out more searching of Newspapers, to solve the mystery or James Alexander / Henry L'Estrange. This I hope will solve a greater family mystery. Where did Alexander Alexander come from and where did his die? His date of death is known from his probate[16]. If Alexander Alexander and Ann Alexnader,  had died in Victoria or New South Wales, there would be hopefully a swag of information about parents, etc.

  A new resources for people researching Wire walking and Rope walking is a mailing list with Rootsweb

WIREWALKING-ROPEWALKING Mailing List

 

  1. Victorian Birth Registration, No. 1860 20162
  2. There is evidence in Article: 2 or 22 MAR 1877, which refers to "The Young Australian Blondin," but the first real evidence is with Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 1 AUG 1877 up to Article: (New Zealand Times/Age ???, Boxing Day)
  3. Article in The Geelong Advertiser, 19 MAY 1885
  4. Victorian Birth Registration, No. 1859 2848
  5. IGI
  6. Extraction from Parish Register, Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland. Film 14505 Pt? 744.
  7. NSW Immigration, Microfilm 2135, 2458 on the Bermondsey, 7 DEC 1848.
  8. Article in The Geelong Advertiser, 15 JAN 1881
  9. NSW Birth Registration, No. 1603/1880.
  10. Newspaper Historical Features: Daily Mirror, 16 JUL 1986 & Daily Telegraph Mirror, 30 OCT 1990.
  11. Article in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 APR 1877
  12. Correspondance: The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 APR 1879
  13. Article in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 APR 1877
  14. Book: The Wizard of the Wire, The Story of Con Colleano, published by Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1993, by Mark St Leon.
  15. Book: Index of Australian Show Movements Principally of Circus & Allied Arts, 1833-1956, published 1992, by Mark St Leon.
  16.  

 



Born: 1860, “Geelong”, VIC, Australia
[Victorian Registration No. 1860 20162]

Baptised:

Married: ?

Died: 13 MAR 1918, Bathurst District Hospital, Bathurst, NSW., Australia. 
Informant: Matron, Bathurst District Hospital - 57 years
[NSW Registration]

Buried: 16 MAR 1918, Presbyterian Cemetery, Rookwood, NSW., Australia.
Section 5E, Row 19, Site 1908 (Inscription on Footstone, 54828 & 37810)
(Witnesses: Alexander W. Meller & Walter J. Woods)

Immigration: 7 DEC 1848 on the Bermondsey. 
[NSW Immigration Board]

Occupations: 

  • Carpenter (1877)
  • High Wire Walker & Trapeze Artist (1877 - 1891)
  • Labourer

Residences:

  • Geelong, VIC., Australia. (1860+) 
  • Bathurst, NSW., Australia.

Travels as a performer:

  • Heathcote, VIC., Australia. <2 MAR 1877>
  • Grafton, NSW., Australia. <3 APR 1877>
  • Waxworks, Sydney, NSW., Australia <c.1 AUG 1877>
  • Bathurst, NSW., Australia. <1879>
  • Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW., Australia. <7 NOV 1879> Had an accident
  • Rockhamton, QLD., Australia. <3 JUL 1880>
  • Tour the colonies, Australia. <before the date of the 14 JAN 1881>
  • Market Square Gardens, Geelong, VIC., Australia. <14 JAN 1881> Had an accident
  • Wollongong, NSW., Australia. <20 APR 1881>
  • America. <?>
  • New Zealand. <1885>
  • Arrived on the steam ship "Te Anau", at Hobart, TAS, Australia. <6 MAY 1885>
  • Queens Domain, Hobart, NSW., Australia. <8, 9 & 11 MAY 1885>
  • Oatlands Races, Oatlands, TAS,.Australia. <13 MAY 1885> ?
  • Launceston, TAS., Australia. <26 MAY 1885>
  • VIC., Australia. <1885>?
  • Foreshore between Moorabool & Yarra Street Piers, Geelong, VIC., Australa. <25, 26 & 28 JAN 1886>
  • Rockhamton, QLD., Australia. <6 AUG 1887>
  • Mackay, QLD., Australia. <22 SEP 1887>
  • Bondi Aquarium ,Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW., Australia. <1888?>
  • Warracknabeal, VIC., Australia. <30 APR 1891>
  • Charter Towers, QLD., Australia. <4 JUL 1895>

Furnerals: The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 MAR 1918
ALEXANDER, - The friends of the late Mr. JAMES ALEXANDER (AUSTRALIAN BLONDIN) are invited to attend his funeral, to leave the MORTUARY STATION, REGENT STREET CITY, This afternoon 2.53 p.m. for PRESBYTERIAN CEMETERY ROOKWOOD.

http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/timeline3.html
Here, vaudeville companies from Victoria, gymnastic troupes, minstrels and ventriloquists performed for merchant and digger. Selections from Shakespeare, Sheridan and goldsmith tickled the palates of more sophisticated. F D Hamilton tired (unsuccessfully to imitate the Marquis of Waterford’s feat by leaping on horseback from pit to stage over a hurdle. A riotous “Ball Masque’ in 1867 included a midnight ‘Grand Tournament on Horseback’. And Signor Vertelli, ‘The Australian Blondin’, offered to extend his act by pushing a lady in a wheelbarrow across a rope stretched high over Revell Street. A second theatre - the City - was opened in May 1866, and a third in 1867. At the City, unlimited smoking and drinking were allowed during performances; people in the upstairs boxes almost suffocated

Article: The Newcastle Morning Herald, DEC 1873
(The Australian Blondin)? [Still to be viewed] 68441

Article: The South Australian Register, 14 JUL 1874
(Blondin's Great Variety Circus)? [Still to be viewed] 54947

Article: The South Australian Register, JAN 1875
(Blondin)? [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 JAN 1877
(H. L'Estrange, billed as Blondin)? [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 JAN 1877
(Henry L'Estrange, The Australian Blondin)? [Still to be viewed]

Article: 2 or 22 MAR 1877
(The Young Australian Blondin, Heathcote) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Northern Standard, 3 APR 1877
(The Australian Blondin, Grafton) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 APR 1877
(L'Estrange, The Australian Blondin crosses Middle Harbour)? [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 APR 1877
Mr. L'Estrange intends to Brisbane this week, probably thence to England. From in to America with intension Niagara?

Article: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 23 MAY 1877
(Henri L'Estrange, The Australian Blondin)? [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 1 AUG 1877
Master James Alexander, a youthful Blondin from Geelong, is just now (says the Telegraph) performing sensational feats in the large Hall of the Waxworks. He performs on a clothes-line, walking across the Hall and returning backwards, kneels down, sits, and lies upon the rope in the customary fashion. The performance commences at 8 o'clock every evening.

Article: The Telegraph, 1877, (Sydney)
[Still to be viewed]

http://www.bankstownairport.com.au/fun_facts/balloons/Balloons_Australia/index.htm
1879, April 14 - Harry L'Estrange, following failure in Sydney, he blames the poor quality of gas, flies his balloon 'Aurora' from the Agricultural Society's ground (showgrounds?) in Melbourne. At 9000 feet there is a tear in the fabric and the balloon falls but L'Estrange parachutes to safety.

also...

M. Henri L'Estrange, after inflating his balloon "Aurora" with coal gas supplied by the Metropolitan Gas Co. ascended from the Agricultural Society's Ground (Melbourne). His weight calculations had been based on the quality of Sydney gas, which being inferior to Melbourne gas, caused him an error amounting to an underestimate of 700 lbs. This gave him an accelerated ascent and resulted in his attaining an estimated 9,000 ft. in a short time. The balloon burst but with the aid of a parachute he desended safely though badly shaken.

Correspondance: The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 APR 1879
VICTORIA. MELBOURNE, Monday.
Henry Lestrange made a balloon ascent from the Agricultural Society's grounds this afternoon. For a time all was successful, but when at an altitude of about 1000 yards, the balloon was gradually seen to collapse. Lestrange, who was the only occupant of the car, threw out ballast rapidly, but the balloon began to double up quickly and descend. It was feared by vehicles those who witnessed it that the occupant of the car must assuredly be killed, but the balloon fortunately caught in a gum tree in the Government Domain, and Lestrange escaped unhurt. It is believed that the seams of the balloon were not properly closed.

Article: The Sydney Evening News, 7 NOV 1879?
[Part of] SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT ULTIMO.... James Alexander, a youth of 19 years of age, and another young man, John Collins,.... Collins states that the rope was cut in precisely similar way whilst the troupe was performing at Bathurst....

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 12 NOV 1879
ACCIDENT TO THE GEELONG BLONDIN.
Our townspeople will not have forgotten young Alexander, the tightrope and wire walker, in the desire to emulate whose feats, the child Ruffin met his death in Malop-Street. We now learn from Sydney that Alexander has met with a serious accident which, it is feared, may result fatally. The Sydney Evening News of the 7th inst. thus describes the incident: _" Yesterday evening during the performance of the Blondin Troupe at Harris Street, Ultimo, a dreadful accident occurred to one of the tight-rope performers which may yet, it is to be feared, end fatally. It is all the more horrible when we are told that the affair is the result of a deliberate act. Across a vacant piece of ground at Ultimo the two young performers, Alexander and Collins, had a wire-rope stretched from shear-legs, which are made of heavy timber and are over 30 feet high, and which were fixed by means of stout ropes with guys to stakes in the ground. The wire rope on which these men were performing was 31 feet from the ground. A portion of the exhibition had passed off successfully, when suddenly it was seen that the shears were giving way, and down came the shear legs with a crash. Collins had the good fortune to slight on his feet, unhurt, and had time to get clear of the heavy timber, but not so with Alexander, he fell sideways, and directly underneath the falling shears, which crushed him dreadfully, so much so that fears are entertained of his life. Collins and others of the audience assisted in extricating the poor fellow, and two doctors were speedily in attendance, who pronounced him to be in a critical condition. A number of the audience were injured more or less by the falling gear, but none very seriously, This is surprising, as there were about 600 people present, and all standing very close to the shear legs. The rope appears to have had several strands severed by a knife, and if the perpetrator of this fiendish outrage can be discovered, his punishment cannot be too severe. It is thought by The boy Collins that it is the result of professional rivalry, as, a short time since, when they performed at Bathurst, the rope was cut, but luckily discovered before an accident occurred. One of the audience, some time before the legs fell, shouted out, "Look out, it's cracking," and one of the troupe carefully examined both shear legs, but could detect nothing out of place. It is hoped that the offender will soon meets with his just dues.

Article: Illawarra Mercury, 20 APR 1880
(Onzalo, The Australian Blondin, Wollongong) [Still to be viewed] 553034

Article: Brisbane, 5 JUN 1880
(The Australian Blondin, Harry L'Estrange) [Still to be viewed]

Article: Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 3 JUL 1880
(The Australian Blondin, Alexander, Harris) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 14 JAN 1881
The local Blondin, young Alexander, the wire walker, and Harris, trapezist, will give performances in the Market Square this evening and on Saturday afternoon.

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 15 JAN 1881

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 15 JAN 1881
FEARFUL ACCIDENT TO THE GEELONG BLONDIN
Last night a fearful accident occurred to James Alexander, the Geelong Blondin. As announced by advertisement, Alexander entered upon another of his daring exhibitions on the high wire in the
Market Reserve last evening. The band had struck up a lively tune, and inaugural fireworks had proclaimed the ceremonies commenced. Blondin gracefully attired had crossed the treacherous wire and retreated to the elevated platform at the north end of the rope, to reappear in the second feat of the programme (sic), which consisted of cooking pancakes and lowering them to the spectators from the wire. No one present anticipated the approach of the dreadful calamity which was soon to befal[l] the unfortunate performer, who, with easy confidence, emerge from the elevated dressing room, bearing the utensils wherewith the culinary operations were to be gone through. Harris, Alexander's assistant, took up his accustomed position beneath the wire, ready to hand the cooked pancakes to the people present, and the preparation of the cakes proceeded gaily. Alexander was just on the point of lighting the fire in the stove which forms portion of the apparata (sic), when the main wire broke on the south end just above the anchor, which is buried in the ground, and came down with appalling suddenness, precipitating the unfortunate young man to the ground, a distance of about 30 feet. There was a large concourse of people present, and a terrible scene ensued. Some screamed, others nearly fainted, while a thrill of horror ran through all. Harris rushed to his fallen comrade, who lay insensible on the ground, lifted him in his arms, and bore him, apparently lifeless, to the tent, closely followed by a crowd, and deposited him on a stretcher in the tent. The scaffolding, relieved of the tension of the rope above, threatened momentarily to fall on the crowd, and might have done so had not Constable White, who happened to be present in plain clothes, promptly succeeded in securing the tottering mass. Dr, W, Shaw, who was on the ground, was quickly in attendance upon the injured young man and; Miss Alexander who generally accompanies her brother when he is about to perform. pressed anxiously through the mass of people to her brother's side. Restoratives were attempted to be administered to the insensible man, who, though not dead, was only slightly breathing and quite unconscious, and a car was brought to the spot, and he was taken to the hospital and committed to the care of Dr. Scott. He pronounced the case a very serious one, and, though no bones were broken, the symptoms indicated concussion of the brain. There were no bruises externally visible save, some marks of concussion on the left shoulder, and about the left side of the face, and close to the ear on the same side of the head. Up to a late hour the patient was still unconscious, and stertorous breathing indicated that the brain was affected. Young Alexander has lately completed a successful tour as a rope-walker in the different colonies. He is 21 year of age, and is a native of Geelong. By trade he is a carpenter. His mother is now Mrs. Alexander grant, and resides with her husband at Inverleigh. His sister resides in town. Some three years ago an accident befel him while performing at Sydney, and he was nearly killed. A fatality appeared to be overhanging him yesterday, for the agent of the dramatic company at present performing nightly at the Mechanics' Institute was seeking him all day, in order to offer him suitable compensation to induce him to forego the entertainment last night; and although they occupy the same hotel, it was so ordered that they did not meet. It may be mentioned that only a few days since Constable White, while on duty, warned Alexander that, according to law, he was compelled to have a net under the rope. There had been a net under the rope, it is true, but it has only been hung there, rolled up, or lying on the ground, an evasion of the law. Miss Alexander accompanied her brother to the Hospital, and a large number of person showed their anxiety by following the cab, to learn the result of Dr. Scott's examination.. .

Article: Illawarra Mercury, 20 or 21 APR 1881
(The Australian Blondin, Wollongong) [Still to be viewed] 553034

Article: Christchurch Star (NZ), 14 JAN 1884
ALEXANDER, the Australian Blondin, has been giving open-air performances at Ashburton. His last was given on Saturday and he intends to give a similar performance in Christchurch at a early date.

Article: The Mercury Hobart, 8 MAY 1885
THE AUSTRALIAN BLONDIN
Mr. Alexander, the Australian Blondin, arrived in Hobart by the s.s. Te Anau on Wednesday, and purposes giving a series of open-air performances in the Queen's Domain or other convenient places. In his recent tour through New Zealand he has won much renown, his feats on the high rope and wire being described as equal to those of his European namesake. He in also a daring performer on the trapeze.

Article: The Mercury Hobart, 9 MAY 1885
BLONDIN IN THE DOMAIN
The Australian Blondin, Mr. Alexander, made a very successful first appearance in the Domain last evening. He had a large audience, his pitch being on the slope ascending to the upper cricket ground, and the lights there being plainly visible from Liverpool-street, drew crowds of people out there, notwithstanding the dampness and frigidity of the atmosphere. A tight wire rope had been erected on derricks, nearly 100ft. from the ground, and notwithstanding the fact that the lighting arrangements were rather primitive, the performer succeeded in keeping the attention of those present for nearly two hours as he walked backwards and forwards on his rope. stood on his head, sat on a one legged stool, or rode his hobby horse over the yawning chasm he had to traverse. The larrikins were present in great force, but even they were overawed by his daring, and were as good as they could possibly be, and when after carrying a dummy he shouldered a real live boy and took him safely over the rope, he was cheered to the echo, and the adventurous youth is no doubt a hero henceforth among his fellows, if the way in which his account of his experiences were listened to last evening be any criterion. Mr. Alexander is also a clever trapezist. The whole performance was well worth seeing, and the presences of a small brass band added much to the enjoyment of those present. It is to be hoped the efforts of the Australian Blondin were sufficiently compensated by the voluntary contributions of the people which were collected during the evening. He will be again to the fore this evening at the same hour.

Article: The Mercury Hobart, 11 MAY 1885
BLONDIN IN THE DOMAIN
The Australian Blondin gave another of his free performances on Saturday evening in the Domain to an audience numbering quite 1,000 people. The programme, which was a change in some respects from that of the previous evening, comprised carrying a boy on his back, and wheeling a child over in a wheelbarrow. His chief attraction was the skilful way in which he coolly balanced himself in all sorts of attitudes on the ropes with his feet enclosed in baskets. On the trapeze Blondin also seemed perfectly at home, his feats in this line earning him showers of applause. Blondin will make his last appearance this evening.

Article: The Mercury Hobart, 12 MAY 1885
BLONDIN
The Australian Blondin made his final appearance in the Domain last evening. The audience was a large one, numbering over 1,600 people, who frequently applauded the performer for his various feats of skill and daring. The exhibition was very similar to that given by Blondin on his two previous performances. His next appearance in public will be at the Oatland Races, which take place tomorrow.

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 19 MAY 1885
[Part of] After a successful tour of America, Mr. James Alexander, formerly a resident of Geelong and better known as the "Australian Blondin," is returning to Victoria. Last week he was performing in Tasmania....

Article: Launceston Daily Telegraph, 26 MAY 1885
(The Australian Blondin, high wire walker) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 26 JAN 1886

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 27 JAN 1886

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 28 JAN 1886

Article: The Geelong Advertiser, 29 JAN 1886

Article: Rockhamton Morning Herald, 6 AUG 1887
(James Alexander, The Australian Blondin) [Still to be viewed]

Article: Daily Mercury, Mackay, 22 SEP 1887
(Alexander, The Australian Blondin) [Still to be viewed]

Article ?: Sydney, 1888
(Alexander, The Australian Blondin, The Cliff Tops at the Bondi Aquarium) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Northern Standard, 20 APR 1889
(The Australian Blondin, Lismore) [Still to be viewed]

Article: The Northern Standard, 1 MAY 1889
( The Australian Blondin, Lismore) [Still to be viewed]

http://www.wcc.govt.nz/services/archives/exhibitions/communications/
In 1890 the Alexander the great Australian Blondin requested the use of the Basin Reserve to give a 'Grand Exhibition of his Daring and Skill' by cooking pancakes while walking the high wire.

Article: The Warrackbabeal Herald, 30 APR 1891
(small advertisement in Amusements).
BLONDIN ALEXANDER FIREWORKS, The unrivalled high wire and trapeze artist performer will give a grand display on Friday and Saturday nights. Grand torchlight procession. Admission adult 1s. children price

Article ?: Charter Towers, 1 JUL 1895
(Alexander, The Australian Blondin) [Still to be viewed]

Article: Wairarapa Times-Age http://times-age.co.nz/weekly/2001/christmas.html
In 1901 the Masterton Municipal Brass Band ran a special picnic at Pigeon Bush on Boxing Day, with over 2000 people making their way to the grounds. That evening Alexander, the Australian Blondin, treated the public of Wairarapa to an exciting display of high wire walking in Masterton Park. He carried a chair across the wire, crossed blindfold, then, after a performance on the trapeze, culminated his act by riding a bicycle across the wire as a blaze of fireworks were let off.

Article: Daily Mercury, Mackay, 8 OCT 1903
[Still to be viewed]

Books: Australian Circus Sources, Mark St. Leon, Ultimo, NSW. (Copyright, 1986)
The Bondi Aquarium specialised in presenting in feats of skill and daring. For example, Alexander, yet another wirewalker who called himself the Australian Blondin, walked a 200 metre wire stretched between 30 metre high cliff tops.

Historical Feature: Daily Mirror, 16 JUL 1986 & Daily Telegraph Mirror, 30 OCT 1990
[This mentions a James Alexander, who was born in 1842 in the slums of Fitzroy. In his twenties, he went into the circus and developed as an acrobat and trapeze artist. It also mentions that he set up a tight-rope inside a tent in the Domain in Sydney in January, 1877. Later he made a famous crossing on the tight-rope at Middle Head in Sydney on the 17th of April 1877, bettering the French Blondin. It 's mention that he continued  tight-rope walking inside a tent for a year or so and then retired in Sydney. In 1879 he began experiments in a balloon, name Aurora, but would not rise more than several feet due to the poor quality of Sydney gas. He took his balloon to Melbourne in Easter where he flew to 2000 metres before a cannon explosion cause the balloon to burst, causing it to come down and land in a tree, with him hanging in it. The article suggest that this was his last daredevil performance, and he was never heard of again. This article refers to this James Alexander as the Australian Blondin as well as Henry L'Estrange. My view is that there is several Australian Blondins would up in the storyuin this article]


 

 

Last Updated - Friday, 17 November 2006

2004 Alan Gresley

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