Our history

Since we were founded in 1860, we've been through many exciting changes. See some of the milestones which have helped us to become one of the UK's oldest and most famous animal rescue centres.

The history of Battersea

Here at Battersea we have a long, proud history of being here for every dog and cat. 'The Temporary Home for Lost & Starving Dogs’ as we were first known, was established in 1860 by Ms. Mary Tealby and a committee of animal lovers, in Holloway, North London.

Then, as now, we relied entirely on the kindness of supporters, and with the help of generous donations we moved to our South London site in Battersea in 1871 where we remain to this day. With continued support, we continued to grow. In 1979 Battersea acquired the old Bell Mead kennels, now known as our Battersea Old Windsor centre, and opened our third centre at Battersea Brands Hatch in 1999.

Battersea has always been known for our work with dogs and was originally set up to help dogs living on the streets of London. In 1883 that all changed. Following a donation of £500 by Mr Richard Barlow Kennett, Battersea began to welcome cats as well as dogs. Mr Kennett’s generous gift was entirely conditional on the organisation agreeing to start taking in cats, so that’s what we did. In that first year Battersea took in a total of 48 stray cats in addition to thousands of dogs.

The original cattery, Whittington Lodge, the world’s first purpose built cattery, designed by the renowned architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis still stands at the London centre today and is a heritage listed building.

In 2002, in order to reflect our growing feline intake we changed our name to ‘Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’. In 2018 we went one step further and rebranded as ‘Battersea.’

Historic notes from committee meetings show that in 1862 Battersea declared that ‘no dog of any description or in any condition be, on any pretence whatever, refused admittance into the Home’. It’s this commitment, to be here for every dog and cat, that still lies at the heart of everything we do.

In our 160 years of history Battersea has cared for more than 3.1 million animals. We wouldn't have been able to do this without the help of our supporters. From our 1,000th volunteer to Paul O’Grady, take a look at some of the other milestones which have helped us to become one of the UK's oldest and most famous animal rescue centres.

The Battersea History Timeline

Our history would not exist without our supporters, and every year we compile an annual report which shows the impact we have been able to make with their help. You can also take a look at our Strategic Plan up to 2023 to find out more about our current plans to make a significant and real difference to the lives of animals.

If you would like to help us help dogs and cats everywhere, please consider making a donation, or find out all the different ways you can support Battersea.

To celebrate our 160th birthday take a look back over some of the highlights from our history, and see if you can spot a few familiar faces.