STAFF and volunteers of the RSPCA in York are marking the 150th anniversary of the organisation in the city with a look back at its history.

The charity is also launching an appeal to try to raise £150,000 to improve the Landing Lane site and conditions for the animals it takes in – currently 64 dogs and more than 200 animals in total.

The first RSPCA home in York was a small brick building in St George’s Field, and was created after a meeting held at Guildhall on February 16, 1864, decided a branch could be needed in the city.

Susan Smith is a volunteer gardener at the site, and as a former librarian has taken charge of looking into the branch’s history.

She said: “When they started the York RSPCA Lost Dogs’ Home, all they had was a kitchen wash stand to heat water. Someone had to go out so someone could go in.

“Because of flooding at the site in the 1940s, they had to put some dogs into one of the empty shops in Shambles. But some kind person broke the locks and let all the dogs out. They didn’t mention whether they got them all back.”

This week, the aviary for wild birds at the branch was badly damaged by 70mph winds and will cost hundreds of pounds to rebuild. But branch manager Angela Hunter said she hoped the history, when finished, could be sold as a pamphlet or booklet, and would help as part of an ongoing campaign to raise funds to update sections of the 35-year-old site.

She said: “They need more light and heat. There aren’t any plans to knock down and start again, because that’s £5 million, but we need major refurbishment.

“£150,000 would be needed to bring it up to scratch. There are nine blocks that need upgrading, not to make it look nice but to improve accommodation for the animals.”

To make a donation go to and click donations, or send a cheque to RSPCA York Animal Home, Landing Lane, York, YO26 4RH.