A HUNDRED years ago people in Journal-land weren't joking when they said they were off to see the Wild West show.

Not so sure about the elephant and the kangaroo but Buffalo Bill and his tribe of Indians definitely rode into town to stage a memorable spectacle including a re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Big Horn - only this time it was down Pennington way!

Six thousand people flocked to Buck's Farm off St Helens Road in Leigh to witness the daring feats performed by Colonel William F Cody and his performing troupe who descended on the town in three train loads.

Having performed at St Helens on October 1 they arrived in Leigh the following day and on Monday, October 3 1904 the amazing Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was presented to wide-eyed audience.

"The visit of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show to Leigh on Monday excited intense interest in the district, and the performance on Monday afternoon was attended by about 6,000 persons. In the evening hundreds were unable to obtain admission, the popular parts of the house being crowded to excess. It was the first time on record that the show had been to Leigh, and it was located in the large field on the east side of St Helens Road, between the railway and the brook.

It would be difficult to imagine a show which could give a more vivid idea as to life in the Wild West in the latter half of the nineteenth century than the one provided by Buffalo Bill. The Indians constitute a great attraction as they rush into the arena in all the glory of their war paint, and with their gay plumes floating in the breeze. A realistic representation is given of Carter's (sic) last fight, or the battle of the Little Big Horn in June, 1876, when the Sioux Indians surrounded Carter (sic) and his 300 United States cavalry and utterly wiped them out, not a single man escaping. Ranch life in the West and an attack on a settler's cabin by Indians gives one an idea as to the dangers of frontier life.

Some of the finest feats of horsemanship that can be imagined are shown by the Cossacks from the Caucasus, the Mexicans exhibit their skill with the lasso, veterans from the 6th U.S. Cavalry go through clever military exercises, Arabs and Japanese show great skill in throwing somersaults, tight-rope walking and other feats. Johnny Baker gives an astounding exhibition of shooting. Colonel W F Cody (Buffalo Bill) the most picturesque and attractive personage of the lot shows that he still retains his old skill at shooting at moving objects, the summary method of punishing a horse thief in the old days is portrayed, the congress of rough riders from all parts of the world. George C Davis the cowboy cyclist rushes down an incline at terrific speed and jumps 56 feet across a chasm. Altogether it is a wonderful show."

Obviously our reporter of a century ago was overawed by the feats of Carter the Cowboy Cyclist - the Evel Knievel of his day - otherwise he might have given General Custer a deserved mention!

The Wild West Show performers has a hectic schedule. They followed an afternoon show with another staring at eight o'clock when the arena was illuminated by "special electric light plants" and after their Leigh spectacular were due in Bolton the following day and Bury the day after that.

An appreciative Leigh audience paid good money to watch. Admission prices were a shilling (5p), two shillings, three shillings and four shillings. Box seats cost five shillings (25p) and seven shillings and sixpence (37 p) with children under 10 admitted at half price to all seats except the shilling ones.