Fairgrieve's famous travelling menagerie - 'Wombwell's Royal Number
One' - was to close in 1872. All of the animals were to be sold by
auction in Edinburgh.
Asian elephant called Maharajah was purchased from the Edinburgh
auction by the owners of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens. It was
planned to send him by train to Manchester, but this plan was
rapidly altered after he severely damaged a railway carriage. His
keeper suggested that they should walk to Manchester, and this they
did over the next ten days.
Subsequently the tale of the walk
entered zoological folklore, suffering some alterations over time
and being linked with several other incidents. In this book David
Barnaby, a Manchester researcher, has carefully examined all the
available evidence to try and separate fact from the fiction, and
record what, at the very least, was a most interesting journey.