1908: Hercules targeted in drunken “orgie”

Anyone walking through the Quarry on the morning of Friday 17th July 1908 would have been greeted with a “grotesque and sorry spectacle”.

hercules by st chads
The statue originally stood at Condover Hall but was moved to the entrance of the Quarry in 1851. In 1881 he was moved to his present position by the river.

Cans of red paint had been poured all over the much loved statue of Hercules, it was then smeared all over him with shaving brushes. His head had been adorned with feathers and a cape tied around his neck. Rain added to the shame, trailing the paint and feathers down his body. According to one paper it gave the appearance that he’d just emerged from a “Bacchanalian Orgie”.

The incident made national news appearing in papers across the country.

Early speculation suggested the culprits were from Shrewsbury School.

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Wellington Journal – Saturday 18 July 1908

The speculation proved correct and four former pupils, now students at Cambridge, were arrested.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Friday 24 July 1908

Turns out they’d come back to Shrewsbury, stole a roost of hens from their former headmaster and went camping on Shelton Rough near The Mount.

Here they plucked and cooked the birds but kept the feathers for their midnight prank – and then they struck!

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Western Times – Tuesday 21 July 1908
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Shelton Rough

They pleaded guilty at court, apologised for the foolish stunt, and begged the magistrates to let them off. They did, but only if the prankers paid to repair the damage and made a generous donation to the town.

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Lancashire Evening Post – Wednesday 22 July 1908

But this wasn’t the first time Hercules had been targeted. In 1884 a similar act had been committed on his person not long after he’d been moved into his new position. It was described by this disgruntled resident of the town who wrote to the paper to demand a prison sentence for whoever did it.

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Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 21 May 1884


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