Painting the Town Red
‘Painting the Town Red’ conjures up images of revelry. In the early hours of Thursday 6th April 1837 the Marquis of Waterford and other ‘gentlemen’ literally ‘Painted’ the town Red! After attending the Croxton Park Races, and consequently enjoying the ‘hospitality’ of local inns a large inebriated group, including the Marquis, arrived at the tollgate at Thorpe End.
The toll keeper refused entry into the town until the tolls were paid, on this occasion though the unruly crowd with nails and tools barricaded the toll keeper into his house painting the gates red.
Reportedly staying in Melton at the time of the races, the Marquis’ party would not stop at the toll gate. Proceeding down the Beast Market (now Sherrard Street) they continued with their ‘decorating’. They painted doors, knocking over plant pots, rampaging through the Market Place and Burton Street. This culminated in the Marquis being hoisted up on to the Swan Porch to paint the swan. This is commemorated in the coloured engraving by Henry Alken.
When the local constabulary of the time attempted to stop the Marquis’ shenanigans they were given a coat of paint also.
The following day, the town was in uproar, some were red with rage, some with paint. When Waterford finally sobered up he was made to pay handsomely for the damage that had been done to people and property. The culprits were found not guilty of causing a riot, but were fined £100 each for common assault. His antics have given him infamy as we remember him with the saying today.
There was a disastrous fire on 18 September 1985 and despite renovations to the Swan Porch, the original effigy of the Swan was restored and can still be seen today. During the restoration of the Swan the "Marquis" Red Paint was revealed!