A TERRIFIED family had to be taken to hospital after the big top of a Hampshire circus collapsed on top of them.

The young family-of-four were getting to their seats ready for the start of the afternoon performance of Happy’s Circus in Burley when bars came falling in from the roof as the tent caved in.

Screams filled the collapsing big top as families panicked trying to escape with their children, dodging falling pieces of the tent.

An investigation has now been launched by New Forest District Council into the cause of the incident but the circus is being allowed to continue with their performances while that is underway.

The drama unfolded just before 2pm, during strong winds, when there were around 30 people inside the 600-seater big top, waiting for the start of the show.

The grandfather of the family who were injured said that his son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren, who were on holiday in the county, were just walking in as the tent caved in and have been left shaken by the experience.

Injuries He said: “My daughter-in-law was in front with my grandson in the pushchair and my son and granddaughter were behind.

“My son managed to get his daughter out first and then went back for his wife and son.

“He told me parents were screaming and he went back in and got more children out.

“His wife is still very distressed by the whole thing. She had one of the bars from the roof hit her on the head.

“She had to have a chest X-ray and has bruising to her ribs.

“My son had bleeding on his head from a cut and my grandson’s pushchair was toppled over.

“It’s completely ruined their holiday.”

South Central Ambulance Service sent two ambulances and the Hazardous Area Response Team who treated four people at the scene.

Three adults were taken to Southampton General Hospital with “minor concussion-type injuries”.

A spokesperson for Happy’s Circus said Sunday’s incident was due to “exceptional circumstances”.

They added: “We are discussing the matter with the manufactures of the tent and arranging for test to be carried out.”

It is understood that the tent is being repaired and that they are due to return to Burley tomorrow to continue their run of shows which is due to end on August 25.

The latest incident happened 24-hours after chairman of New Forest District Council Maureen Holden was guest of honour at a performance.

Founded in 1992 and run by the Randelle family, Happy’s Circus features Randelle Clowns, acrobats and aerialists and raises more than £250,000 for schools and other good causes across the UK every year.

Burley ward councillor, John Penwarden, said he would be looking into the incident with the council and sent his best wishes to the those who were hurt.

A council spokesperson added: “Any action will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

“In this case, we are the enforcing authority under the Health and Safety at Work Act.”