The sad end of Billy the goat

A view of North Street, of the period 1900-1910. Note the colonnade extending from New Road almost to Bond Street. The corner site was rebuilt for the National Provincial Bank in 1922.
With kind permission of The Regency Society

Among the associations of ‘The Coach and Horses’, mention might perhaps be made of the famous ‘Billy Goat Dinner’ which took place there some sixty years ago. The magistrates at the period had issued an order that “All dogs loose in the town were to be shot”, the important office of “executioner” devolving upon William (alias ‘Billy’) Catlin the beadle.

‘The Castle’ stables were the nearly opposite the ‘Coach and Horses’ (North Street) and occupied the site of the present Royal Colonnade. There was kept at the stables a well-known goat, who, being allowed his ‘run’ would, like many another fine fellow, frequently stray out of bounds. ‘Billy’, the goat, one day, unconscious of impending danger, took a walk as far as the corner of Bond Street, when Catlin the beadle, gun in hand, and intent on duty, happened to be coming through the street, and (being short-sighted) mistook the goat for a dog. Fatal error! The gun was pointed; the trigger pulled, and ‘Billy’ receiving the charge, was ‘no more’ to the world at large.

His body was, however, removed to ‘The Coach and Horses’, not for an inquest to be held upon it but to be roasted and eaten. Whether or not Billy Catlin (the beadle) was invited to the feast, we know not. He ought to have been; for he never heard the last of his exploit. Years after, when he was appointed beadle on the Western Esplanade, when he was doing duty in the upper part, small boys would occasionally assemble on the lower, and greet him with cries of “Baa-a-a” and the annoying shout of “Who shot the billy-goat?”

Anecdote reproduced from A Peep into the Past’: Brighton in the olden time: glances at the present’ John George Bishop:1880

Comments about this page

  • Being a lecturer in Landscape Studies, where our over-riding principal is that all landscapes have Continuity & all landscapes have Change, it is heartening to record that the site of the Coach & Horses tavern is now occupied by the Brighton Buses booking office!

    By Geoffrey Mead (11/07/2019)

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