As far back as the 1700’s there was an area of London where non-humans, some domestic and some brought in from around the world, would be sold from tiny, rusty cages to the highest bidder. This area was known as Club Row, and by the Victorian era vivisectors were regular customers. Every weekend thousands upon thousands of creatures would be sold off, often to end up in laboratories across the UK.
Sometimes described as “Hell on earth for animals,” Club Row was seen as “an immovable object of British heritage.” Various campaigners had attempted to get the place shut, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that some momentum finally started.
The animal rights movement in the UK was young and energetic, and as this was the era before car bombings and grave robbings, it was still united. Militant vegans marched with members of the RSPCA, and while some people began lobbying their MPs to shut Club Row, others engaged in civil disobedience and sabotage. Demonstrations against the animal sellers began to draw first hundreds, then thousands of participants. In a short while the street side sale of animals, which the media had angrily defended and claimed could not be stopped, ended. It took the movement two and a half years, but the market has never re-opened.