Friday, 30 May 2014

A Wolf Hunt in Willesden

On Friday 3 March 1893, a menagerie owned by Mr Bailey was travelling through Willesden in the direction of Harrow, when a wolf managed to escape. Although it had hurt one of its forelegs, it made off across the fields towards East Acton. Mr Bailey took his boarhound and some men, and ran after the wolf. They were joined by a group of road menders armed with shovels and pickaxes. But when the snarling wolf turned round to face its pursuers, the dog refused to go near it.  Luckily one of Bailey’s men managed to lasso it, and after throwing a sack over its head, the wolf was carried back to the menagerie.

Illustrated Police News, 11 March 1893

During the 1890s there were several large travelling menageries which were very popular. These included Bostock, Wombwell and Bailey.

The Mr Bailey mentioned above in the newspaper report was probably James Anthony Bailey who began a menagerie and circus in 1873 called Cooper and Bailey. They toured the world and in 1881 consolidated with the great American showman, PT Barnum as Barnum and Bailey. When Barnum died Bailey became the sole owner and at his death in December 1906 Bailey left an estate of £1,350,000, worth an astonishing £120 million today.

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