Club Row, London

Club Row was a notorious open air street pet market in the east-end of London. There were numerous demonstrations against this market by animal rights activists. The market was banned and closed after the 1983 amendments to the Pet Animals Act 1951.

The following account by a dedicated campaigner - Sue - gives an idea as to what these demonstrations were like:-

"Every Sunday, come rain or shine, a group of diverse individuals made their way to Club Row to protest against the brutality of the 'pet' market held there.There, from the back of vans and cars, all manner of creatures were paraded for sale - to all manner of buyers. Children chided parents to buy totally inappropriate animals with no idea of how to care for them and often no idea even what species they were. Unaccompanied children also bought animals without question. It was sickening to see and hear the distress of living creatures traded like bags of sweets.

Having come from a rather naive existence in the North of England to make my fortune in the capital, I knew no one and do not even remember how I came to be involved - but involved I became. Shocked by the brutality by which these unfortunate creatures were displayed and handled from cages, boxes, car boots and vans to be sold to whoever had the money to pay, was heartbreaking.

Worse was to come. One of our number, Angela Walder, was particularly vocal and with admiration I edged closer to her to hear what she had to say. She was telling the police, ever present to ensure we did not disrupt the sales, that she knew some of these animals were stolen and that some buyers were buying for vivisection laboratories. She pointed to the right of the market - to dark arches where larger animals were held, boxes of dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. One man bought a whole box of kittens - now I knew why. Week after week Angela was arrested, but came back more vocal than before. As I got to know her I learned she had been involved in animal research and realising its futility and cruelty, not only turned her back on it, but fought it.

Homesick, I soon returned to the North - but returned a different person. I set up an animal rights group with local successes, but will never forget the distress of those animals so brutally sold to the highest bidder. Nor the bravery of those individuals who fought endlessly for their freedom."

The following pictures were taken by Mike Huskisson at a protest and march against Club Row one Sunday in the early 1980s:-