Showman 'Uncle' Arnold Bell at the Crookwell Show

‘Uncle’ Arnold Bell is back at the Crookwell Show. He’s been a travelling showman his entire life. 

His father, Roy Bell, “a very famous showman,” had a sideshow alley boxing show, starting 1924.

Arnold Bell and Elwin Bell with kids Boston (5), Amalia (5), Bowie (4), Charlie (3).

Arnold Bell and Elwin Bell with kids Boston (5), Amalia (5), Bowie (4), Charlie (3).

Mr Bell boxed for the troupe until age 40, taking on blokes brave enough to challenge the strong man in the ring. 

The Boxing Troupe finished up about 1970. Now aged 81, Mr Bell mans the Lucky Ducks.

Members of the Showmen’s Guild, for which younger Bell, Elwin, is delegate, they travel to Crookwell from Batemans Bay, and will go as far as Darwin.

“They’re all showmen, all travel together … We’re all in the one mob,” Mr Bell said.

Photo: Michael Inman.

Photo: Michael Inman.

Mr Bell, a grandfather of six, attended boarding school until he was 16. These days, children have government-funded travelling school assistance.

“When we were young, we’d camp out of town by the river, catch fish, have an open fire and kerosene light… It was a good life,” Mr Bell said.

The ever-changing shows no longer entertain with sideshow alley.

“In my day we were showmen; nowadays we are ride operators,” Mr Bell said. “In them days, we had to get up and spruik… We had Vanessa the Undresser, ‘pygmy’ men and women from Africa, the Tattooed Lady, the Fat Lady...”

This weekend is the 141st Crookwell Show.