Added: 11 Sep 2020 19:47 GMT
Millions Of Rats In Busy London
The Daily Mail on 14 April 1903 reported "MILLIONS OF RATS IN BUSY LONDON"
A rat plague, unprecedented in the annals of London, has broken out on the north side of the Strand. The streets principally infested are Catherine street, Drury lane, Blackmore street, Clare Market and Russell street. Something akin to a reign of terror prevails among the inhabitants after nightfall. Women refuse to pass along Blackmore street and the lower parts of Stanhope street after dusk, for droves of rats perambulate the roadways and pavements, and may be seen running along the window ledges of the empty houses awaiting demolition by the County Council in the Strand to Holborn improvement scheme.
The rats, indeed, have appeared in almost-incredible numbers. "There are millions of them," said one shopkeeper, and his statement was supported by other residents. The unwelcome visitors have been evicted from their old haunts by the County Council housebreakers, and are now busily in search of new homes. The Gaiety Restaurant has been the greatest sufferer. Rats have invaded the premises in such force that the managers have had to close the large dining room on the first floor and the grill rooms on the ground floor and in the basement. Those three spacious halls which have witnessed many as semblages of theatre-goers are now qui:e deserted. Behind the wainscot of the bandstand in the grillroom is a large mound of linen shreds. This represents 1728 serviettes carried theee by the rats.
In the bar the removal of a panel disclosed the astonishing fact that the rats have dragged for a distance of seven or eight yards some thirty or forty beer and wine bottles and stacked them in such a fashion as to make comfortable sleeping places. Mr Williams. the manager of the restaurant, estimates that the rats have destroyed L200 worth of linen. Formerly the Gaiety Restaurant dined 2000 persons daily; no business whatever is now done in this direction.
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