Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dancing Bear in Sydenham

The Beckenham Journal, 1 May 1882, reported some cases of animal cruelty heard at Greenwich Police Court. William Hollis, a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Inspector, seems to have been very busy in the Sydenham area:

‘on Saturday April 8th, Jean Baique, 33, and Francis Faut, 30, Frenchmen, described in as bar-performers, were charged before Mr de Rutzen with cruelty to a bear, by beating it with sticks – William Hollis, an Inspector of the RSPCA, said on the previous afternoon he saw the prisoners with their bear in Dartmouth Road, Sydenham, surrounded by a crowd. One of the prisoners was leading the b ear by a chain, which was passed trough its nose, evidently causing it great agony, as blood was flowing. He also struck it a number of times on the shins with a stick thicker than a broom-handle, in order to make it stand on its hind legs and dance. With the last blow he broke the stick’ (they were fined 40 shillings)

‘Cruelty to a donkey at Sydenham: Patrick Horreghan, costermonger, of Deptford, was charged with cruelty to a donkey, in High Street, Sydenham. Inspector Hollis, of the Royal Society, saw the prisoner beating the poor animal with a stick which bore marks of blood that had been drawn by the blows, though the donkey’s skin. There were raw wounds on the animal’s shoulders. Prisoners was sentenced to 14 days hard labour’

There are bound copies of the Beckenham Journal on the public shelves at Bromley archives (upstairs in the central library). If like me you are not a big fan of shopping in Bromley but find yourself drawn there by necessity, browsing through these is a very pleasant way of passing half an hour.

Incidentally, the Forest Hill Society is hosting a talk by Steve Grinlay on theHistory of Forest Hill. It takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at The Hob, 7 Devonshire Rd, Forest Hill, SE23 (more details from Robert here).

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