Protests were sure to follow the unveiling of the brown dog statue in Battersea, London, in 1906 in Latchmere Recreation Ground. The little terrier had become the focus of an anti-vivisection campaign directed against Professor William Bayliss and University College London by the National Anti-Vivisection Society, and had been the focus of a sensational libel trial against a university professor accused of torture and illegal proceedings. The protesters lost at trial. The brown dog statue was a memorial designed to help win the larger propaganda war. This is a brilliant example of history converted into heritage for partisan purposes.
The brown dog memorial taunted scientists and medical researchers, provoking passions so high that thousands demonstrated against it. This eventually drew 24-hour police guards to prevent the memorial’s destruction. In 1910, the statue was removed in a midnight operation and never seen in public again.
In 1985, a replacement memorial was installed in London’s Battersea Park. A new design; a new idea. A competition-winning sculpture by Nicola Hicks. But this, too, provoked. Once placed prominently in the park, it was quietly moved to an inconspicuous corner where it remains today. Whatever the merits of the memorialising or the protests, the sculpture is a lovely, thought-provoking piece that stands on its own.
Readers also might be interested in:
- Ford, Edward K. (1908) The Brown Dog and His Memorial (London: Euston Grove Press), 56 pages. 2013 complete facsimile of 1908 pamphlet. ISBN13: 9781906267346 (paperback).
- Cain, Joe. 2011. No Ordinary Space: Historical Notes on the Grant Museum of Zoology’s new home at University College London (London: UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies: STS Occasional Papers no. 1). viii+44 pages, 53 illustrations. ISBN13: 9781906267896 (paperback). PDF is free on open access.
One little dog…a lot of trouble
I wrote this book to accomplish two tasks. First, I wanted to make a photoessay of the 1985 statue and its use as a replacement to the 1906 original memorial. Second, I wanted to tell the history of the brown dog statue in a slightly different way, and I had a bit of new material to add.
The aim is to revive a small piece of London history. Another aim is to catch of glimpse of a fascinating story involving political activism, history of science, and a small brown terrier dog who came to symbolize an issue we continue to struggle with today.
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Cain, Joe. 2013. The Brown Dog in Battersea Park (London: Euston Grove Press), 32 pages and 20 illustrations.
ISBN13: 9781906267353 (paperback)
PDF available for download – FREE