The public-house has been ‘Britain’s entertainment and social centre for hundreds of years’ 9 and there is little doubt that this description could be applied to the George & Dragon and other pubs in the area. In these days – long before cinema, radio, television or recorded music – the pub was the unrivalled focus of entertainment. Publicans often organised events and shows or exhibited ‘curiosities’ and customers frequently also made their own entertainments.
At this time a writer described seeing ‘step-dancing in perfection and the beat of a Lancashire clog seems an excellent accompaniment to the violins’ at the Ring o’Bells near Manchester Cathedral. The pub was shut in 1833 as the place had been ‘most infamously conducted for a long time’10. The same source describes an earlier exhibition of trained animals at a central Manchester pub: this included ‘a pig that could tell the time by a watch, country dancing by six turkeys, and three cats which imitated the Italian manner of singing’.10