Lions Could Have Escaped!

Three Lions In a Trailer!



Fred Rye Skegness lion tamer

Fred Rye Skegness lion tamer

A Skegness lion trainer who, last August Bank Holiday, figured in one of the most sensational National Press stories of the year, was one of three defendants in a case at Newark, on Monday, which concerned the transport of lions from Paisley to Skegness.

He was Fred Rye, of Burgh-le-Marsh, near Skegness, and he was summoned, as owner of a trailer in which three lions were being conveyed to Skegness, for permitting it to be used in the condition which was the subject of a charge against Donald Topson, of High Street, Gorleston-on-Sea.

Topson was summoned for using, on May 20th, a trailer, “the parts and accessories of which were in such a condition that danger was likely to be caused to any person on the motor vehicle, the trailer, and on the road.”


John Collins, of the Pleasure Ground, Hull, the owner of the lorry, was summoned for aiding and abetting. None of the defendants appeared.

“One can imagine the terror and consternation in the streets if there had been an untoward accident,” said Mr. L. A. W. White, Nottingham, who prosecuted.

P.c. Parkin said that at 7.45 p.m. on May 20th, he saw the trailer being pulled by a lorry in Castle Gate, Newark. It proceeded on to the Town Wharf. Witness had reason to believe that the braking system was not efficient, and carried out an examination. The trailer contained three lions, and Topson, who was driving, told him that they were being moved from near Paisley to Skegness.


There was a wire along the tie-rod which made it appear that there was a wire leading from the lorry to the trailer, but actually there was no connection with the braking system, and there was nothing provided on the lorry to apply the trailer brake. The cable, said witness, was a “sham.”

John Brown, vehicle examiner to the licensing authority, said that he examined the trailer. It was not fitted with a braking system to be efficiently used from the lorry-driver’s cab, or anywhere outside the vehicle.

Witness said there was a great danger of the rear axle of the trailer coming adrift altogether, in which case the rear end of the trailer would have fallen down, the box would probably have broken, and the lions would have escaped.


Arthur, William Jackson, clerk to the licensing authority, said that Rye made a statement in which he said he hired the lions to another man who was to return them after Whitsuntide. The other man, had’ to provide the haulage; the trailer was in good order when it left Burgh-le-Marsh.

Topson and Collins sent letters to the court. Topson was fined £2, and Collins and Rye each ordered to pay £5, and 10s. 6d. costs.

Source: Skegness News 3rd November 1937


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