A Bazaar Collision

February 20, 2017
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Arthur Hardy became legend for hosting lavish dinner parties at his Adelaide Hills residence, Mount Lofty House, during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Known for their raucous affairs, Hardy’s concern was paramount in providing his (very) merry guests a safe journey home, sending returning horse carriages down the hill at 10-minute intervals.

It is thought that this considerate act was in aid of the demanding gravel path encountered by the horses on their descent. However, with the extravagant nature of the parties, it was also widely speculated that the spacing helped to avoid ‘mishaps’ caused by intoxicated guests as they carried on their merry way.

As described in the following anecdotal newspaper article, and inspired by popular public entertainment of the time (in great rivalry to Arthur Hardy’s parties of course), rowdy guests and steep declines may have not have been the only hazard carriages encountered on the journey home…

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South Australian Weekly Chronicle, Monday 24 January, 1859

- Bazaar Collision -

Information has been received that a carriage collision occurred on the eve of Saturday last, injuring a horse and a circus monkey.

A carriage returning guests home from an extravagant private dinner held at Mr and Mrs Arthur Hardy’s Mount Lofty House residence came into some difficulty when it happened upon a small troupe of escaped animals including two monkeys, a performing dog, and a miniature pony from the travelling menagerie of Burton’s ‘National Circus’.

Nearby residents reported a disturbance on Flinders Street at approximately 12.03am. Said disturbance had been preceded by an unusual racket made up of great whoops and screeches, thought at the time to be the regular hubbub of returning revelers from the famed Hardy parties. Following an almighty crashing sound, those nearby to the scene reported a cacophony of commotion, caused by an array of colourfully dressed beasts.

It is reported that a carriage horse, startled by a dancing monkey, reared up abruptly and did stamp a hoof upon the hind leg of the troublesome primate. The steed then bolted and, with carriage still attached, caught itself between two poles, sustaining mild injuries. It is believed that the horse was fatigued after a long and winding journey down the gravel road from Mount Lofty, with many delays allegedly caused by its intoxicated passengers. The passengers, still intoxicated from the strong waters consumed at Mount Lofty House, were largely unharmed, having slept throughout the entire ordeal.

Hardy, widely known for sending carriages home at 10-minute intervals at the conclusion of his lavish affairs to ensure the safety of his guests, was dismayed by news of the event. He reported disappointment at the irresponsible practices of the travelling circus that led to the endangerment of his guests’ and their property.

Burton’s Circus Master, Henry Burton, declined to comment.

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Story inspired by the following historical excerpts

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/burton-henry-3123 ‘Public Amusements’ article http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/96492932?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FS%2Ftitle%2F287%2F1859%2F01%2F22%2Fpage%2F8356326%2Farticle%2F96492932

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