Why do we say paint the town red?

How a drunken day at the races inspired a classic saying

Why do we say paint the town red? (Public Domain)

The most credible origin of the phrase comes from the home of pork pies, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. In 1837, the inebriated Marquess of Waterford and equally refreshed pals sought to enter the town after a day at the races, but were stopped by a toll-keeper who asked them for payment.


Seizing some nearby paint pots, they painted both the toll-keeper and his toll-house bright red, after which they proceeded to do likewise with buildings right across the town. When he sobered up, the Marquess paid for all the damage.