The people of Rochdale and surrounding areas have always had a soft spot for animals and as far back as 1889 there were people so keen to help vulnerable animals they were prepared to set up a branch of the RSPCA putting huge amounts of their own time and effort into it. In 1890 the branch was formally established. Since that time there has been no shortage of people coming forward to help. The branch made a significant contribution during the Great War. By 1918, the Rochdale branch had raised £250/12s (£14,783.45 today) for the Sick and Wounded Horses at the Front Appeal.
In 1939 the Rochdale Branch and the then National Veterinary Medicine Association (now known as the British Veterinary Association) agreed to set up a new animal clinic and shelter in the heart of Rochdale. They acquired the former Woodman Hotel on the corner of High Street and Redcross Street, which was converted into the animal shelter.
On 6 December 1939 the Mayor of Rochdale officially opened the new clinic and animal shelter. These are the same premises that the Rochdale Animal Centre is located at today. In the first full year of the clinic (1940-41) the Rochdale Animal Centre cared for 597 dogs and 77 cats while 87 dogs and a number of cats were re-homed.
Over time the Rochdale Animal Centre outgrew the former Woodman Hotel. Then the Rochdale branch was very fortunate and, unlike many other areas, had enough money and enthusiasm to design and build a new purpose-built Animal Centre.
The fortunes of the branch rose and fell over the years, but in 1998 it was realised that the Rochdale Animal Centre could no longer afford to continue. Major refurbishment was out of the question, and without up-to-date facilities the RSPCA would not allow it to operate. When that day came, it was with immense sadness that the Centre’s doors were closed for the last time.
This, in fact, turned out to be the catalyst needed to re-ignite the passions of animal lovers across the district. Branch members appealed to the people of Rochdale and money, goodwill and offers of help came from all sides. £600,000 was raised and the Centre was not only refitted but extended to cater for a wider variety of animals and reopened in May 2006.
Today, the branch is more active than ever. 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of our Rochdale Animal Centre and 2020 marks the 130th anniversary of the RSPCA Rochdale and District branch.
The Animal Centre is in full swing 24 hours a day, and the staff and volunteers in our ten charity shops are forever busy. We have a great team, all working with enthusiasm, and dedicated to ensure this branch goes from strength to strength.
Do you know why our society is ‘Royal’?
In 1824 a small band of people formed the Society – the SPCA. At that time, compassion for animals was regarded as bizarre. Animals were regarded as little more than commodities supplying food, transport or sport. Those early campaigners had a hard job to do to win over the hearts and minds of the general public. They were very successful and by 1840 the Society’s work was held in such high regard that Queen Victoria gave her permission for the SPCA to be called the Royal SPCA and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was born.