The Brown Dog Riots

Brown Dog Statue

Animal rights activists, feminists, and students clashing with one-another and the police…

It may sound like it happened recently, but it actually happened over a century ago, between 1903 and 1910.

At the heart of the discord lay the fate of a large brown dog whose name we do not know. Early in 1903 this unfortunate dog was dissected while alive by Dr. William Bayliss (later to be Sir William Bayliss) during a lecture to 60 medical students at the University of London in the UK.

However, two Swedish animal rights campaigners were present at Bayliss’s lecture. Their names were Lizzy Lind af Hageby and Leisa Katherine Schartau. They had begun an investigation of practices in the university’s medical school.

The women alleged that Bayliss dissected the dog while it was awake. This would have been illegal. Bayliss was legally obliged to fully anesthetize the dog. The women’s account stated:

A large dog, stretched on its back on an operation board, is carried into the lecture-room by the demonstrator and the laboratory attendant. Its legs are fixed to the board, its head is firmly held in the usual manner, and it is tightly muzzled.

There is a large incision in the side of the neck, exposing the gland. The animal exhibits all signs of intense suffering; in his struggles, he again and again lifts his body from the board, and makes powerful attempts to get free.

The women also said that medical students at the lecture had joked and laughed at the dog’s plight.

Stephen Coleridge, a lawyer who was opposed to animal experiments, read Lind af Hageby and Schartau’s account of the dissection and was horrified. He made a public accusation that Bayliss had broken the law and had tortured the dog.

bayliss, lind-af-hageby, coleridge

From left to right: William Bayliss, who dissected the dog; Lizzy Lind af Hageby, who wrote an account of the dissection; and Stephen Coleridge, who made a public allegation that Bayliss had broken the law by not properly anesthetizing the dog.

With his professional reputation at stake, Bayliss sued Coleridge for defamation.

At the resulting trial medical students who had been present at the lecture testified that the dog had not struggled, but had only twitched. Three women students and a male student testified that the dog had looked unconscious to them at all times.

The jury unanimously found Coleridge guilty of defamation. He had to pay Bayliss damages of £5,000 including legal costs – a very large sum of money indeed.

The Brown Dog’s Controversial Memorial

Animal rights campaigners were outraged at the trial’s result. One of them, Anna Louisa Woodward, raised money to have a bronze statue of the dog erected in Battersea, London in 1906. The statue is shown at the top of this page. Below the statue was an inscription:

In memory of the brown terrier dog done to death in the laboratories of University College in February 1903 after having endured vivisection extending over more than two months and having been handed over from one vivisector to another till death came to his release.

Medical Students Riot

When London’s medical students learned about the inscription they were furious. By the end of 1907 their fury was transformed into action.

First, 10 of them attacked the memorial with crowbars and hammers. They were arrested and quickly taken to court, where they were fined by Judge Paul Taylor. This triggered a fresh eruption of anger among medical students; over 1000 marched through London with an effigy of the judge, which they threw into the River Thames.

Students also vented their anger on feminists and suffragettes, violently disrupting their meetings. (Lizzy Lind af Hageby and Leisa Katherine Schartau were feminists as well as animal rights campaigners.)

100 students marched to the brown dog memorial intent on pulling it down and throwing it in the River Thames. People living near the statue drove the students off.

Meanwhile 1000 students marched into central London where they fought a battle with 400 police officers and were charged by police mounted on horseback.

Sporadic violence continued after this, with students disrupting meetings organized by Lizzy Lind af Hageby. Trade Unionists, socialists and women’s activists fought battles with students in the vicinity of the Brown Dog Memorial, trying to prevent its destruction.

The new Brown Dog Statue

The new Brown Dog Statue, by Nicola Hicks.

Eventually the cost of policing the statue wore down the local council, who removed it in 1910. It is believed to have been melted down a number of years later.

More recently, the statue has been replaced by one designed by Nicola Hicks. The new statue can be seen in Battersea Park, close to where the original one stood.

Medical students have not attacked the new statue!


Creative Commons licensed images
Image of The new Brown Dog Statue by Tagishsimon, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

12 scientists and their brilliant inventions

A scientist is someone who investigates the secrets of nature.

An inventor is someone who tries to create useful products and devices.

Some people have been incredibly successful in both endeavors. Here are twelve of the best:



Lived c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC

Archimedes is the best known mathematician and scientist from ancient times. In addition to brilliant discoveries in mathematics and physics, he was also an inventor.

The Archimedes’ Screw

Still in use today, one of Archimedes’ greatest inventions is the Archimedean Screw.

archimedes screw

The Archimedes’ Screw

Archimedes probably invented this device when he visited Egypt, where it’s still used for irrigation. The screw is also helpful for lifting finely divided solids such as ash, grain, and sand from a lower level to a higher level.

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke - Plant Cells

Plant cells, discovered, named and drawn by Robert Hooke. This illustration was first published in Hooke’s book Micrographia, in 1665.

Lived 1635 – 1703

Robert Hooke discovered plant cells and discovered Hooke’s Law – the law of elasticity. He also:

  • invented the balance spring, vital for accurate timekeeping in pocket watches
  • invented a machine that cut teeth for cogs used in watches – these cogs were cut in finer detail than any person could have managed, enabling more delicate watch mechanisms to be developed.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Lived 1706 – 1790

Benjamin Franklin discovered one of the fundamental laws of physics – the Law of Conservation of Electric Charge – and proved that lightning is electricity. He also:

  • invented bifocal spectacles
  • invented the Franklin stove
  • invented the lightning rod

Alessandro Volta

Alessandro Volta

Alessandro Volta was the first person to isolate methane gas. He discovered that methane mixed with air could be exploded using an electric spark: this is the basis of the internal combustion engine. He also found that electric potential in a capacitor is directly proportional to electric charge.

Oh, and he invented the electric battery!

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Lived 1822 – 1895

Louis Pasteur discovered that some molecules have mirror images – these can be described as left-handed and right-handed versions of a chemical compound.

He banished forever the concept of spontaneous generation in biology – the idea that bacterial life could just appear from nowhere in fruit or that maggots could appear spontaneously in meat.

Pasteur invented the process of pasteurization and patented it in 1862.

During pasteurization, farm and brewery products such as milk, wine and beer are heated briefly to a temperature between 60 and 100 °C, killing microorganisms that can cause them to go bad.

Lord Kelvin

Lord Kelvin

Lived 1824 – 1907

Lord Kelvin, whose original name was William Thomson, codified the first two laws of thermodynamics and deduced that the absolute zero of temperature is −273.15 °C. He was honored for this with the naming of the Kelvin temperature scale. On the Kelvin scale, absolute zero is found at 0 kelvin.

In addition to his work as a physics professor, he was also an inventor, devising equipment which he patented that allowed transatlantic telegraph signalling to take place via an undersea cable.

William Crookes

William Crookes

Lived 1832 – 1919

William Crookes was a physical chemist who discovered and named the element thallium.

In 1875 he invented the Crookes tube, an evacuated electrical discharge tube, which he used to generate so-called cathode rays. We now know that cathode rays are streams of electrons. Crookes used magnetic fields to prove that cathode rays consisted of negatively charged particles.

Wilhelm Röntgen

Wilhelm Roentgen

Lived 1845 – 1923

Wilhelm Röntgen was a physics professor. He received the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for his discovery of X-rays.

Within two weeks of first generating X-rays he had invented X-ray photography. The first ever X-ray photograph was of the bones in his wife’s hand.

When his university, the University of Würzburg, realized how dramatically X-rays would transform the diagnosis of bone injuries and diseases, it awarded Röntgen an honorary degree in medicine.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is the father of neuroscience. He won the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1906 for his neuron doctrine.

In a time when people had to pose for several minutes to have a photograph taken, Ramón y Cajal invented a new process that needed a pose of only three seconds.

Unfortunately, he learned later that Thomas Edison had got there first!

Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie

Lived 1859 – 1906

Pierre Curie shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with his wife, Marie Curie, and Henri Becquerel for their discoveries in radioactivity.

Over a decade earlier, in 1880, Pierre Curie and his brother Jacques had discovered piezoelectricity.

Pierre and Jacques then invented the piezoelectric quartz electrometer which detects and measures electric charge.

Interestingly, Pierre and Marie’s Nobel Prize winning work depended on measurements made using the piezoelectric quartz electrometer Pierre and Jacques had invented many years earlier.

Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley

Lived 1887 – 1915

Henry Moseley’s scientific career was cut short at a tragically young age.

Before he died, he had discovered the true basis of the periodic table and, in 1912, invented the atomic battery. Atomic batteries are now used where long battery life is essential, such as spacecraft and heart pacemakers.

Luis Alvarez

luis alvarez

Lived 1911 – 1988

Luis Alvarez is probably most famous for discovering the iridium layer and his theory that dinosaurs were driven to extinction by the aftermath of a large meteorite impact on Earth. He won the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in particle physics.

He also invented the Microwave Phased Array Antenna, a type of radar which dramatically enhanced air safety in poor weather conditions by giving ground crew very precise information about aircraft positions, allowing them to land safely.


Author of this page: The Doc
Images of scientists digitally enhanced and colorized by this website.
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