Sepia toned photograph of the Holden Brothers Circus Band holding brass instruments, rehearsing on the verandah of Edith 'Pinkie' Holden's house in Kensington, Melbourne, 1920s.

Pictured left to right are Ernie Holden, Stan Holden, Dolph Holden and Harry Mackenzie. Harry Mackenzie played with the band and also performed as a clown for Holden Brothers Circus. He sometimes performed with Adolphus Holden and Ernie Gordon Holden from Holden Brothers Circus as the Flying Gordons, doing a three bar trapeze act. He also travelled for performances with Perry Brothers Circus, Wirths Circus and Ashtons Circus.

Ernie Holden's daughter Melba Ryan remembers: 'Ernie Holden was a self taught musician. He taught his brothers how to play as well, and they provided music for the circus. The band played every night in the early days. There were about five or six of them. They played brass band music, marches, etc.'

According to the Holden family, the Holden Brothers Circus was founded in Melbourne in 1892 by Adolphus Holden. As a youth, Mr 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 lasso 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

Two men and two boys with brass instruments on the verandah of a suburban house. All are wearing hats and the boys are wearing shorts and jackets. The men are wearing trousers and jackets. A garden is in the foreground, and through the iron lacework archway of the verandah at right is the chimney of a neighbouring house.

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