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Drawing of Bull Baiting at the New Inns.

Bull baiting was the popular "sport" of all the classes at the turn of the 18th Century.

This so called sport was sanctioned by law, and fines are recorded against butchers who sold unbaited beef, for baiting was then supposed to make beef tender and juicy.

Picture the town crier in all his finery, striding through the village with his warning bell under his arm.

Immediately he reaches a group of houses he would call:

"Oyez Oyez Oyez.

If any man wishes to see sport, let him come to the bull ring on the evening of Wednesday.

If any man stands within 20 yards of the ring, let him take what comes."

Very few did stand within 20 yards, because at this distance both bull and dog came, and in a most undignified matter to.

Many of these baits were held on Rishton Moor, a large heavy stone with an iron ring in the centre was fixed firmly in the ground. The bull was tied to the ring by rope or chain, and then the dogs were set loose.

When the dogs were tossed into the air by the bull, the men who formed the ring broke the dogs fall, not only out of pity for the dog, but chiefly in order to save its life so that the sport could continue as long as possible.

In 1820, a scene such as this took place on Rishton Moor, when 2 to 3 thousand spectators watched this "barbarous, disgusting and unfeeling exhibition".

The local paper, Blackburn Mail, November 13th 1822 (7d), printed a report of one of these exhibition:-

"Upwards of 500 unfeeling wretches had collected together, yesterday se'nnigh in a plot of ground belonging to a certain public house, near this town, for the purpose of witnessing the brutal spectacle of a bull bait, but the landlord having been informed by a respectable person, that his recognizances would be forfeited if he suffered the exhibition to take place on his premises, the animal was locked up in a shippon, and the feeling persons present were obliged to retire to their respective homes, without enjoying the pleasure of witnessing the shameful scene."

In May, 1802, a bill was introduced in Parliament to suppress this so called sport, but it was defeated by 13 votes. In 1835, an act of Parliament finally made bull baiting illegal in this Country.

References

Rishton Parish Church and School Jubilee Year, 1927 by Carlton Noble.