Price & King’s Veterinary Practice and Quarantine Station

This large building was constructed in 1885 and whilst today it houses the Type Museum it was originally built for Mr Thomas Price’s veterinary practice and quarantine station, later known as Price & King’s. This large rectangular building was built with high ceilings and lofts, specially adapted to be able to house and treat large animals such as elephants and giraffes. It was also one of London’s main quarantine stations for performing animals coming in from abroad, some at the time were very famous, such as the Great Lafayette’s lion.

The above images are from the Daily Mirror, Thu 28 Nov 1912, the accompanying article reads:

‘It is not generally known that in Brixton is situated one of London’s most fashionable hotels. It is run by Messrs. Price and King exclusively for animals, and here one may meet quadrupeds with the bluest of blue blood in their veins, four footed actors and actresses and many other notables. (1) Lady Saza the human monkey, breakfasting in her private apartment. (2) Miss Ella and one of her lions. (3) Baby Jumbo and his valet pay a call on a zebra. (4) Baroness Lutzell with her clever horses and dogs. (5) Hanky Panky, the well known actor, who appears in ‘Everywoman’ being groomed. Baby Jumbo and Baby Jimbo, The Daily Mirror elephants, now amongst the hotel’s distinguished guests, are looking on.

Sadly a few months prior to the above article and images on Sunday 24th March 1912 disaster struck and a terrible fire broke out – 

The Daily Mirror – Monday 25th March 1912

MENAGERIE ON FIRE

Monkeys Found Dead in Each Other’s Arms after a Brixton Outbreak

Ten valuable monkeys and two dogs were the victims of a fire at the premises of Messrs. Price and King, the veterinary surgeons of Hackford Road, Brixton, which is also a licensed quarantine station for performing animals coming from abroad. Shut up for the night in cages (three or four in each), the animals had no opportunity to escape, and although the fire brigade were on the scene within a few minutes and the fire quickly put out, it was too late to save them.

The monkeys belonged to a variety artist named Gustav Grais, while the two dogs – a poodle and a fox-terrier – were the property of Mr. Bostock. Scores of performing animals are lodged in the extensive stables of the firm, including horses, lions and zebras, and it was due to the prompt action of the fire brigade that they were not burned.

The ill-fated animals were housed in a loft. How the outbreak originated is not known, but the smoke was so dense that the monkeys were, perhaps happily, suffocated before the flames could reach them. There are several stables and lofts on the premises, built in rectangular form,  but the firemen succeeded in confining the outbreak to one stable only.

‘It all happened so quickly’ one of the attendants told The Daily Mirror, ‘that we had no time to get the animals out’. ‘We made every attempt, but so overpoweringly thick and pungent was the smoke that we could not even reach the cages, although we entered and tried to grope for them. I heard the poor little beggars moaning and chattering in terror, but the sounds quickly ceased.’

When the fire was extinguised the dead monkeys were brought out, still in their cages, and placed in the yard. They presented a truly pitiable sight. Lying in the blackened straw in a huddled mass – several in each others arms – they seemed to have collected together, as if seeking protection from an unknown foe. Curiously enough, among the music hall artists in the habit of keeping their animals on the premises was the Great Lafayette, who himself, with his dog beauty, perished in the recent fire in Edinburgh. His lion, now used by Lafayette’s successor, was in the building up to a week ago!

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