‘The Temporary Home for Lost & Starving Dogs’ was established in 1860 by Ms. Mary Tealby and a committee of animal lovers, in Holloway, North London.
Relocated to Battersea.
Battersea bought Hackbridge in response to overcrowding of the London site due to rabies, and to give more space to larger dogs. It was located on the land between Hackbridge Road and London Road.
A special train was laid on from Victoria Station to Hackbridge for the opening ceremony. According to The Times “there was a large and fashionable gathering” led by the Duke of Portland who was President of the Home. In his speech the Duke called it a Dogs’ Paradise, because the fortunate animals who came there could not fail to be supremely happy, seeing the wonderful provision that had been made for their comfort and general well being.” (Annual report 1898)
The Committee urged its supporters to visit Hackbridge to see for themselves how well the dogs fared in the country. An inspection of the kennels and exercising grounds will reveal the greatly improved conditions under which the dogs are kept, their manifestly better appearance, and the marked signs of happiness they display. The natural beauties of the surroundings, too, are very attractive and cannot fail to be appreciated.
If you want to keep dogs at their best it must be in some such place as HackbridgeFrom Battersea Dogs Home annual report 1902
As well as housing larger stray dogs Hackbridge provided boarding facilities for dogs and cats. From 1910 onwards the kennels also cared for dogs coming from abroad who needed to undergo quarantine.
1914 Ernest Shackleton – Endurance Expedition
The most famous residents of the kennels are no doubt the 99 Husky cross breeds for Ernest Shackleton’s fateful Antarctic expedition in 1914 (known after as the Endurance Expedition). Brought over from Canada they were kennelled at Hackbridge free of charge They generated great publicity, and as many as 500 visitors a day came to inspect the dogs during their 2 months stay. A keeper from Hackbridge accompanied one of the groups of dogs sent on to South America.
The Endurance wreck was discovered on 5 March 2022.
After the end of World War 1 Battersea built 500 extra quarantine kennels for dogs coming back with their soldier owners. From 1928 cats also had to be quarantined. Hackbridge added quarantine accommodation for cats and these were judged to be “the best in the country” by the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Comments from the guest book at Hackbridge, published in the annual reports:
Although it is hard to part from a pet, I must admit that the six months’ quarantine has generally improved my dog in many ways. I wish to testify to the faultless way your Home for dogs is run and I think I am in a position to be some sort of a judge, seeing that I have not missed many days during the past six months in visiting the kennels.”
January 12th, 1923. D.A.H.B.
Toby arrived home after his six months in quarantine looking and feeling great. He reports on your home in the most glowing terms and he has obviously been well cared for, we are both of us, dog and master, most grateful. 1/6/26. RT.
I have visited my cat three times, and I have never seen it in better condition and coat than while at Hackbridge. I am much pleased with the happy relations evidently existing between the cat and the Caretaker. 6th November 1929. C.M.McW.
1934 – Sold to Spratts Patent Ltd
After it was sold, it continued to be used as kennels (including housing cheetahs!) until the 1960s. The kennels were sold and the site has a history of being an industrial estate for many years and is now New Mill Quarter housing estate.
Populated by Lysanne Horrox after speaking to the Battersea Dogs Home archivist, who was delighted we were interested in their history and provided old images.