A group of slippery individuals captivated audiences in Southampton with their remarkable skills, prompting spectators to eagerly purchase tickets to witness their performances for just one shilling (5p) each.

In the bustling town of Southampton in the year 1914, the star attraction at the popular Palace Theatre was none other than Captain Fred Woodward's incredible Sea Lions and Seals, who dazzled audiences with their "amazing, amusing, talking and juggling”.

Revered as the "most marvellous animals in the world," they never failed to captivate audiences with their performances, drawing large crowds wherever they appeared, and Southampton was no different.

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The crowd was captivated by the mysterious beings, and Captain Fred skillfully employed his showmanship to entice the public into attending the twice-nightly shows.

With captivating words, the captain captured the attention of the Southampton community by showcasing his talented troupe of sea lions and seals through intriguing advertisements.

“At home, either on land or in sea, both terrestrial and amphibian, they are in their native and wild state nature’s greatest curiosities. Cumbersome, awkward, one might say almost shapeless, and apparently helpless, they seem at first glance an inanimate mass,” enthused Captain Fred’s advertising leaflets.

“Armless, they have flippers the shape of a bird’s wing, with which they swim the sea; legless, they have a prehensile flipper which serves as a means of propulsion and locomotion on land.

“The head of a hound, without ears; the whiskers of a cat; the soft eyes of a fawn, and the fierce, long, needle-like lacerating teeth of a reptile, they are at once a contradiction and a combination of all forms of animal and elemental life.

“They are at the same time the most awkward and most graceful, most clumsy and most skilful of all God’s creatures. In short they are nature’s most curious paradox.”

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Hosting a pair of performances on a nightly basis, the Palace under the direction of Will Murray showcased its shows at 6:50pm and 9pm every night of the week, apart from Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The arrival of Captain Fred's ensemble of sea lions and seals sparked excitement on both shores of the Atlantic. As they docked in Southampton, a buzz of anticipation filled the air.

The animals shared the bill with Lilly Young, vocalist and comedienne, Richard Wally, juggler and billiardist, Nellie Lewis, singer of chorus songs and Kate Hughes, a male impersonator.

In the past, the sea lions and seals were a primary highlight at the "Forepaugh and Sells Brothers, 20th Century Colossus Circus" during its entire season at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA.

The Southampton and District Pictorial, a forerunner of the Daily Echo, described a part of the act: “In vaudeville Captain Woodward’s sea lions can challenge comparison with many a biped endowed with hands and feet instead of flippers and a tail.

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“One of them catches a football on his nose, and there spins it until it occurs to him to toss it back to his master.

“Next he balances on his nose a stick surmounted by the football. With his flipper he knocks the stick away, catches the ball on his nose, and a moment later transfers it to the nose of another sea lion, which tosses it back to Captain Woodward.

“The trainer takes a pyramid of those funny clowns’ hats that fit into one another like baking tins.

“One by one he throws them over a distance of thirty feet to the biggest sea lion, ‘Mr Sea Lion’ watches each, missile narrowly, dodges, reaches or ducks, according to the exigencies of the case, and catches all in succession on his head.

“He afterward takes one of them in his mouth, throws it in the air and catches it as before."