About Us


On Tuesday 3 January 2023 the RSPCA’s Rochdale Animal Centre animal welfare work will cease operating from its Redcross Street site after 83 years when it is transferred to Hollingworth Lake. The Rochdale branch of the RSPCA was established in 1890, operating across a number of local premises, before moving to the former Woodman Hotel on the corner of High Street and Redcross Street in 1939.

The Rochdale RSPCA will be based at the former visitor centre which has undergone an extensive refurbishment and expansion and will be known as the Hollingworth Lake Animal Centre. The operation of the Rochdale charity shops will, in the meantime, continue to be managed from Redcross Street.

The former visitor centre, in the beautiful setting of Hollingworth Lake and the Pennine hills, has been transformed and enlarged into a state-of-the-art facility to house the many abused and abandoned domestic animals and wildlife casualties which are brought to the animal centre by RSPCA Inspectors.

They then receive vet treatment and rehabilitation before being rehomed or released back into the wild. The branch has taken in around 700 animals in the last twelve months. In the last 10 years the centre has rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed over 6000 animals and birds and look forward to many more years of promoting animal welfare in the area.

Chair of Trustees David Canavan said, “On 3rd January our work caring for animals will move to our new centre at Hollingworth Lake. It is an exciting time for the RSPCA but it is also an opportunity to reflect upon all the trustees, staff and volunteers over the years who have devoted themselves to all those animals who have needed our help. The support of the people of Rochdale has made our work possible and our grateful thanks must go to them as well.

Animals are truly wonderful. They enrich our lives in so many ways and they deserve our love and care. For those animals that suffer abuse, abandonment and cruelty the RSPCA will always do everything it can to relieve their suffering and give them an opportunity to enjoy a secure and happy life in the future. Our move to Hollingworth Lake will allow us to expand our welfare work not only for domestic animals but also for the wildlife which is increasingly threatened in this current world. Animals do not have a voice but I hope that all those good people in our community who share our respect for animals will join with us to speak on their behalf.

This exciting development for the RSPCA would not have happened without the support of Rochdale Borough Council, Your Trust and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. On behalf of the RSPCA I would wish to convey our thanks to them.”

Visitors to the lake and to the Animal Centre will also enjoy accessible facilities, with the new Animal Centre boasting a large dog friendly café, improved toilet facilities, upgraded reception and information area and a meeting room. There are new separate premises for the country park rangers.

The centre’s phone number will remain the same – 01706 861897 –. and more information will be on the website and facebook pages. The café is expected to open in early February.


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.