Bury rat fight poster on display with other interesting historic artefacts

Craig Brisbane with a poster advertising the rat fight

Craig Brisbane with a poster advertising the rat fight

First published in News Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

SOME Bury pubs used to put on shows involving dogs attacking hundreds of rats.

Now an advertisement for such an event and other fascinating historical trinkets will be put on show at a “one-of-a-kind” exhibition in Prestwich later this month.

Amateur historian Craig Brisbane, of Heywood Road, Prestwich, is set to showcase hundreds of exhibits delving into the history of Prestwich, Whitefield, Bury and Salford over the past 200 years.

Mr Brisbane, who once discovered a World War Two bomb shelter hidden deep within the cellar of his house, says he is staging the event as Bury Council will soon press ahead with plans to remodel the library and make space available to learning disability day services.

“I would imagine this is my last chance to be able to put on the show in the entrance to Prestwich Library before the changes are made and space becomes more limited, so I am going all out and putting everything on show,” said Mr Brisbane.

One of the exhibits is a poster designed by the owners of The Clarence pub in Bury, probably in the late 19th century.

They promised to pay 100 guineas to the owner of the dog who can rip 200 live rats in an hour.

Mr Brisbane said: “This would have constituted entertainment in that era.

“Can you imagine the job of the rat catcher who would have to gather enough rats in case, say, five people brought their dogs along for the challenge?

“Also, the poster appears to have blood on it. Could it have come from the rats?”

Another banner, dated February 25, 1899, advertises a grand audition at a mill in Ormerod Street, Bury, with everything from greenhouses to safety bicycles up for grabs.

Mr Brisbane said: “Also on show will be cannonballs, religious objects and buttons that used to be on the coats of patients at Prestwich Asylum.

“And one of my favourite exhibits is the diary of a midwife from the 1860s. She would deliver babies in the Salford area and talks about her work. It’s fascinating.”

He added: “There are lots of things to touch and feel and lots of exhibits that children will find interesting too.”

The exhibition in the entrance of Prestwich Library in the Longfield Centre takes place on Saturday March 15 from 9.30am to 1pm, and on the following day from 9.30am to 2pm. Entry is free.

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