Old news: A tiger braves the mean streets of east London

London’s Commercial Road has always had a dangerous reputation...

Illustration by Ben Jones – benjonesillustration.com

Carrying travellers from the safety of the city into the heart of the East End, its reputation was one of murder, horror and strange excitement. In 1839, this was added to by the appearance of a Bengal tiger, escaped from Wombwell’s Menagerie, casually stalking the route on a cold Sunday evening in January.

The tiger was first spotted by Mr Thomas, a boot and shoe-maker from the nearby Ratcliff Highway, who, mistaking it for a bear, ran to find the police. They arrived in time to witness the tiger attack a large mastiff dog, dragging it into a nearby garden.

By this point a huge crowd was gathering, and an unsuspecting maid of the house the garden was attached to was opening the door to find out what everyone was staring at. As she slammed it shut, the big cat’s keepers attempted to lasso the escapee. A struggle broke out, and both a keeper and an Irish coal whipper were severely injured by the cat before it was wrestled unhappily home.
 

Hereford Times – 12 January 1839

News story sourced from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

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