Mad Dogs and Englishmen



An amazing incident from the 1890s…a dog, apparently suffering from rabies, turned up in the neighbourhood of Stainland Dean. It attacked another dog before making its way to Firth House Mill. Upon entering the boiler house it seized the firer, Thomas Whiteley of Pennyhill, and bit him severely on the calf of the leg. The dog then furiously bit Eli Collins causing a serious leg wound. John Fox, a mechanic from Dean Street in West Vale, managed to overpower the dog. There was much concern for Whiteley and Collins however 21 local gentlemen at once subscribed £3 each to send the injured lads to Louis Pasteur’s Clinic in Paris.  (M. Pasteur had created in the 1880s the first vaccine to combat rabies). Mr Walker, the Halifax Vet, confirmed the dog was rabid.


Louis Pasteur


Thomas Whiteley wrote from Paris to express his thanks for the generosity of the local men. Without their kindness he was certain that he was doomed to an early grave. Within a month both Whiteley and Collins returned from Paris. They praised the staff at the Pasteur Institute for their treatment. Both were almost back to full health and were expected to return to work. Later a concert was held at the Sowood Reading Room to cover the outstanding expenses. Everyone was grateful that the district had rallied so promptly to save the lives of the two youths.



An Unexpected Kiss

A Stainland couple were to be parted for a short time. She was leaving for the London train but loath to part with her young man, standing on the platform. The engine-driver had blown the whistle but in the confusion of the moment the young lady leaned out of the carriage window and planted a kiss on the cheek of the ticket collector, who happened to come between the young lovers just at the wrong time. The article concludes that the porter was not to blame in the slightest!



Pretty Polly

Smithies, a centre three-quarter, of the Elland Football Club (1892…the football being played is rugby union) had a parrot to which he was much attached, the sentiment being reciprocated on the part of the parrot. Unfortunately one Saturday morning Polly flew out of the house and was at once lost to sight.  A search was immediately begun but without result until Polly was seen, later in the afternoon, perched in a gentleman’s garden in West Vale. Polly was caught and taken indoors. Smithies was communicated with and on the Sunday morning he went for the ‘wanderer’. Polly recognised him immediately he entered the house. She commenced chattering to him and at once perched on his shoulder as if anxious to return home and also thankful that her devoted guardian had come to her rescue. Visitors to Smithies’ house will frequently see the parrot go from room to room on the shoulder of this popular footballer.


David J. Glanfield

Greater Elland Historical Society


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