United Kingdom

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home releases a photographic history

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has released a stunning photographic history to celebrate the 160th anniversary of its opening. 

Founded in 1860 by Mary Tealby, Battersea is one of the UK's oldest animal welfare charities.

In the decades since, the charity, which has survived two World Wars and counts the Queen as its long-standing patron, has grown from strength to strength. 

The charity marked the milestone anniversary by releasing a photograph to mark each of its 16 decades on Twitter.  

The social media thread includes a photograph and an enlightening tidbit of history from each of the decades in which the organisation has operated.  


Mary Tealby was the founder of Battersea who opened the dogs home in the face of skepticism. Pictured: Tealby's signature, dated June 6, 1861

Mary Tealby founded Battersea in 1860, with many people skeptical that such a home would be able to survive.

In the Twitter thread, Battersea highlighted one news article which read: 'When we hear of a home for dogs we venture to doubt if the originators and supporters of such an institution have not taken leave of their sober senses.'


Although known as Battersea, the home was originally located in Islington, North London, before moving to its current home. Pictured: A drawing of the new dog's home in Battersea

Though famously known as 'Battersea', the original animal home was actually located in Islington, North London.

In 1871, the charity made the decision to move the location of the home to Battersea, where they have remained ever since.

The decision to move was made because of 'violent and persistent opposition of the inhabitants of Hollingsworth Street'. 


The public's opinion regarding dog rescue changed after Battersea had been in operation for 20 years. Pictured: The Princess of Albany stands next to her rescue dog Skippy, who was adopted from Battersea

After being in operation for 20 years, public opinion about animal rescue began to change.

In 1883 the Duke of Albany visited Battersea and took home a Terrier named Skippy.

The Duke's mother, Queen Victoria, also became Royal Patron of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 1885. 


Battersea opened a countryside annex in 1898 which was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Portland (pictured)

The Twitter thread explained how in 1898 the charity expanded their work by opening a countryside annex.

The Duke and Duchess of Portland visited the annex and commented that it should have been named 'Dogs' Paradise,' because the fortunate animals who came there could not fail to be supremely happy.' 


In 1907 Battersea took a big step forward in animal protection by opening the UK's first cattery, which had stoves inside to keep the cats warm in the winter

The historical thread moved on to explain how in 1907, Battersea opened Whittington Lodge.

At the time it was the first purpose-built cattery in the UK and had stoves inside so that it could keep the cats warm during the winter.

The building itself still stands in London today and is now a listed building. 


A fund was established in 1914 by Battersea to help dog owners pay for their dog licences. Pictured: Battersea staff care for a group of dogs

In 1914, Battersea set up a special fund to help support people who couldn't afford to pay the cost of a dog licence.

The charity maintained this fund until dog licences were abolished in 1987. 


Jane Trefusis Forbes sits with her Dandie Dinmont Terriers. In 1924 she set up Bellmead Kennels which trained Kennel Maids

In 1924, Jane Trefusis Forbes founded the Bellmead Kennels which was known for training Kennel Maids who look after animals while their owners are away.

The kennels later moved to the site that Battersea's Old Windsor centre now occupies. 


One success story from Battersea was a rescue dog named Scruffy, who was adopted by a cameraman and became the highest-paid dog of the 1930s

In the 1930s, Battersea described the rags-to-riches story of a dog named Scruffy.

He was adopted from Battersea by a cameraman called Bernard Brown.

Upon learning that Scruffy loved tinned salmon, Brown trained his new dog to act, which resulted in Scruffy becoming the highest-paid dog of the decade. 


Battersea Chairman E.L. Healey-Tutt (pictured) took to sleeping in the paint shed at the home during the Second World War so that he could be on hand to deal with any fires if a bombing raid hit the home

The 1940s are remembered for the Second World War and Battersea was not lucky enough to escape unscathed from the conflict.

In 1940 a bomb was dropped onto Battersea, but no animals or staff were injured in the incident.

During the decade the home was bombed multiple times, which led the charity's secretary E.L. Healey-Tutt sleeping in the paint shed so that he could be on-hand to act as a fireguard if the need arose. 


Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) became a Royal Patron of Battersea in 1956

As the world entered the second-half of the 20th century Battersea saw a new Royal Family member take up patronage. 

In 1956, Queen Elizabeth II followed in the footsteps of Queen Victoria and became a Patron of the charity. 


Little Lost Dog: In 1967 Battersea launched their first educational film which taught children about the importance of pet dogs wearing a collar and name tag that had an address on it. Pictured: A frame from the film

The 1960s saw Battersea Dogs and Cats Home try their hand at film-making.

'Little Dog Lost' was an educational film released in 1967, which was made available for loan, free of charge, to schools and charitable groups. 

The film's purpose was to raise awareness about the importance of making dogs wear a collar with a tag on it that had the owner's contact details on. 


A rabbit (pictured) was one of a host of animals that were treated by Battersea's new veterinary clinic in 1970

At the turn of the decade in 1970, Battersea opened up a new clinic.

In its first year, the clinic and its veterinary staff treated 9,036 dogs and 417 cats.

Other animal patients included 12 budgies, one canary, a ferret, three goldfish, a guinea pig, a hamster, one sparrow and a rabbit. 


In 1983, Battersea welcomed their 2,500,000th dog named Lucky (pictured)

Battersea celebrated an enormous milestone in this decade as they welcomed their 2,500,000th dog in 1983.

The stray was aptly named Lucky.


The Lost Dogs and Cats Line was launched by Battersea in 1998 which has helped reunite thousands of pets and their owners

One of the more recent historical events Battersea mentioned was the launch of a new service just before the new millennium. 

The Lost Dogs and Cats Line was launched in 1998 and thanks to the line, the charity has been able to reconnect thousands of lost pets with their owners.


Despite having taken in cats since 1883, Battersea (pictured) only included the felines in their official name in 2002

Incredibly, despite having been rescuing cats since 1883, it was only in 2002 that Battersea included them in their official name.

From The Home For Lost and Starving Dogs to The Dogs Home, we became Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.


Paul O'Grady (pictured) started a TV show in 2012 located at Battersea where he met a number of the home's resident dogs

Battersea became the subject of a TV series hosted by Paul O'Grady where he met with some of the home's resident dogs.

Starting in 2012, Paul O'Grady's For The Love of Dogs has been running now for eight years, including a lockdown special. 

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