Brown Dog in Battersea Park
A familiar story at UCL, but this project reveals new twists.
Published 1 June 2013.
How did one little dog cause so much trouble?
In 1906, anti-vivisection campaigners unveiled a memorial in Battersea, London, as a new weapon in their long-running propaganda war. A celebrated libel trial focused attention on the plight of one brown terrier dog, the subject of physiological experiments and classroom demonstrations at University College London.
Immortalised in bronze, that dog provoked passions for and against. Insulted, pro-science groups attacked the statue itself, marched in protest, and fought back with symbols of their own. Passions ran so high that electric alarms and 24-hour police guards were needed to prevent the statue’s destruction. In 1910, the memorial was removed in the middle of the night, and it never was seen in public again.
In 1985, anti-vivisection groups sponsored a replacement, a re-interpretation, and secured its position in a prominent spot of Battersea Park. But this, too, caused protest, and was quietly moved to an inconspicuous nook elsewhere in the park. It stands there today.
This book introduces both memorials, with an original photographic record of the second. The aim is to revive a small piece of London history. Also, to catch a glimpse of a fascinating story involving political activism, history of science, and a small brown terrier who came to symbolise an issue we still struggle to resolve.
Visit Battersea Park
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Eyewitness to the conflict
Edward K. Ford was an eyewitness to the demonstrations - or were they "riots"? - in 1907, when UCL medical students campaigned to have the brown dog memorial removed.
The pamphlet containing his account, published in complete facsimile as part of this project, provides a rare on-the-ground description of events. It also includes key material on legal issues, as well as press and public reaction. His anti-vivisection perspective is plain. This remains essential reading for any study of the brown dog affair.
Ford, Edward K.  2013. The Brown Dog and His Memorial (Euston Grove Press), 48p. Complete facsimile of 1908 original.
ISBN 978-1-906267-38-4 (Apple eBook version) Apple iStore