Mayhew came across said legend talking to the sewer hunters, the nineteenth-century Londoners who descended into the sewers of the capital to look for valuables that had been flushed down into the system. Ignoring the ‘roguish smell’ they sometimes made fortunes. They also feared for the sewer hogs…



”There is a strange tale in existence among the shore-workers, of a wild race of hogs inhabiting the sewers in the neighbourhood of Hampstead. The story runs, that a sow in young, by some accident got down the sewer though an opening, and, wandering away from the spot, littered and reared her offspring in the drain: feeding on the offal and garbage washed into it continually. Here, it is alleged, the breed multiplied exceedingly, and have become almost as ferocious as they are numerous. The story, apocryphal as it seems, has nevertheless its believers, and it is ingeniously argued, that the reason why none of the subterranean animals have been able to make their way to the light of day, is that they could only do so by reaching the mouth of the sewer at the river-side, while, in order to arrive at that point, they must necessarily encounter the Fleet ditch, which runs towards the river with great rapidity, and as it is the obstinate nature of a pig to swim against the stream, the wild hogs of the sewers invariably work their way back to their original quarters, and are thus never to be seen. What seems strange in the matter is, that the inhabitants of Hampstead never have been known to see any of these animals pass beneath the gratings, nor to have been disturbed by their gruntings. The reader of course can believe as much of the story as he pleases, and it is right to inform him that the sewer hunters themselves have never yet encountered and of the fabulous monsters of the Hampstead sewers.”

— Victorian Sewer Pigs, Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog, June 2010, http://www.strangehistory.net/2010/06/07/victorian-sewer-pigs/ (Accessed: 20 Dec 2013)