The West Hatch Wildlife Centre is just one of several branches of the RSPCA across the UK.
History of RSPCA
The RSPCA were founded in a London coffee house in the 1820s. The men present were aware that they were forming the world’s first animal welfare charity, but they didn’t imagine the size and shape that the charity would become.
Back then the charity was the SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Royal patronage followed in 1837. The reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, gave permission to append the royal R in 1840, forming the RSPCA as they are known worldwide today.
Moving with the times
When they were founded, the focus was working animals like pit ponies, who were sent down the coal mines. They've changed with the times.
During World Wars One and Two we worked to help the millions of animals signed up to serve alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces.
The first piece of legislation in the UK on preventing cruelty to animals was the 'Act to Prevent the Cruel Treatment of Cattle, 1822'. It was passed after great opposition which lasted for several years. Richard Martin, M.P. for Galway, was an outspoken campaigner for the bill. He even described himself as 'the father of the Act', and often the law is called Martin's Act.
The act made it illegal for any person to 'wantonly and cruelly beat, abuse, or ill treat any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow, heifer, steer, sheep, or other cattle'. Only a limited number of animals came under the act.