In 1908, The Home of Rest made its next location move. The move took the charity from Friar’s Place Farm in Acton to Westcroft Farm in Cricklewood – just four miles from Central London.
The new property comprised some 20 acres of pasture land, stabling and necessary buildings and was purchased for the sum of £14,000. The farm required considerable renovation and new buildings to accommodate upwards of 80 horses.
Twenty looseboxes and two isolation units were built thanks to generous donations by private patrons. Donors sponsored a loosebox at the cost of £1,000 (roughly equivalent to £70,000 today) and an inscribed plaque was placed on the box in recognition.
In 1909 The Home of Rest for Horses began to open regularly for visitors for the first time. Wednesday afternoons became special “At Home” days when the Secretary made a point of being in attendance to receive visitors and show them over the institution. On these occassions afternoon tea was also provided at a charge. The Home of Rest also invited visitors to join them on New Year’s Day to treat the horses to a few ‘tit’bits’.
Despite the close proximity of the new premises to central London, there was still a need to transport lame horses that could not walk and were in need of help. In 1910, The Home of Rest ran a special appeal to raise funds to buy their first horse ambulance. Thanks to a £50 donation from Mrs. Mansel and the generous response of other kind friends of the charity, they were able to purchase a handsome new horse drawn ambulance.
The below is taken from a 1911 report.
“The New Year Festival of 1911 was further rendered memorable, in that advantage was taken of the opportunity to formally open a new Stable of twelve Loose Boxes, erected in part by the Hon. Pauline Cranstoun, a generous supporter of the Society’s work, and, as the inscription placed upon the boxes at her request testifies ‘The Friend of Old Horses.’ The opening ceremony was performed by Lady Edward Spencer Churchill, who most kindly attended for the purpose and made a very graceful and moving speech eulogizing the objects and work of the Society, and advocating its claims to the support of all lovers of the horse.”
The Home’s founding purpose was a dual one; to help both horses and their owners, London’s working poor. This was a good fit with Victorian values, and the great and the good were immediately supportive. The sixth Duke of Portland became The Home of Rest’s first President.
Royal Patronage followed with the involvement of HM Queen Alexandra in 1914; and HM Queen Mary from 1925. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal became Patron in 2005.