Liverpool Branch

RSPCA Liverpool Branch - The World's Oldest Animal Charity


RSPCA Liverpool Branch - The World's Oldest Animal Charity

What is now the RSPCA Liverpool Branch is probably the oldest animal charity in the world. Founded in 1809 at a meeting in a coffee house in Bold Street, Liverpool at 7.00pm on 25th October, this group of stalwarts formed a society "for the suppression of Wanton Cruelty to Brute Animals". The "Billinge Liverpool Advertiser and Marine Intelligence" reported that a further meeting was held on 27th November 1809. These reports were ill received by certain hauliers and carters who could see that their sick and infirm animals might be prevented from working. This resulted in members of the Society being waylaid after their meetings and as a result meetings had to be held in secret.

Meanwhile in 1822 in London the Rev. Arthur Broom and Richard Martin M.P. for Galway were setting about forming the SPCA with the assistance of William Wilberforce. In 1840 Queen Victoria gave Royal approval to the title RSPCA and the Liverpool group joined the Society in 1841.

In 1883 the first dogs' home was established and was joined by a cats' shelter in 1907. The dogs' home in Edge Lane was re-built in 1969 by which time the Branch was having to deal with over 13,000 stray dogs and puppies a year.

During the First World War the Branch established a Horses' Rest at a farm in Bowring Park to provide a haven for ex war horses. In 1938 the Horses' Rest was re-located to Lodge Farm in Halewood, the present location of the Branch Animal Centre (we no longer have facilities for horses).

In 1962 the Branch opened a veterinary clinic at the request of the local council in a sports pavilion in Kirkby as no private vet would open a clinic in what was one of the first "overspill" estates. Sadly this clinic closed down in 2014 due to lack of funds.

In 1982 the Branch controversially closed its kennels in Edge Lane - subsidence was given as the cause - despite protests from the then Liberal MP David Alton, among others, and consolidated all of its cats and dogs accommodation at Halewood. The office was moved to former bank premises in Holland Place opposite Edge Hill Church.

Note: These pages will be expanded as time permits as there is considerable archive material held by Liverpool City Library.