Man-cunian's Best Friend

A few dogs in Manchester history...

In 1783, a fatal sword duel took place at Spencer’s Tavern, in Manchester’s market place. Captain Mouncey was killed but Cornet Hamilton was acquitted by a jury. The cause of the duel? An argument over the respective qualities of their two dogs.

In 1828, the launch of a new boat, the Emma, in the River Irwell between Spinningfields and New Bailey ended in disaster. The boat capsized, spilling passengers into the water. Dr James Kay is said to have used blood transfusions from a dog to try to revive people recovered from the river. The event is dramatised in the novel 'The Manchester Man' by G Linneaus (Isabella) Banks, the original manuscript of which is held at Chetham’s Library.

A St Bernard dog, Major, is credited with saving Manchester United. There are variations to the story but the club, then Newton Heath, was in serious financial difficulties in 1901. One version of the tale records that captain Harry Stafford took the dog to the St James’s Hall bazaar on Oxford Street, as a fundraiser. The dog went missing but was found by wealthy John Henry Davies who invested to save the club. For the full story (or stories), see Gary James’s book 'The Emergence of Footballing Cultures'.

Salford firemen mourned the death of Lion, the ‘Salford Fire Dog’ in 1871. He was credited with saving several lives, having attended 332 fires. His collar was engraved: ‘When duty calls I must obey, so onward let me jog. For my name is Lion, the Salford firemen’s dog’.

This is a flavour of some of the tales you will hear on tours such as Love & Loss, Doctors Disease & Cure, Entertainment Street, Salford Men: Heroes & Villains.

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