Blue plaque bid launched for Coventry animal pioneer who was friends with George Eliot - The Coventry Observer

Blue plaque bid launched for Coventry animal pioneer who was friends with George Eliot

Coventry Editorial 21st Feb, 2024   0

A BID has been launched to honour Coventry’s forgotten 19th-century animal pioneer who is credited with forming the city’s RSPCA branch as it exists today.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch wants to honour Cara Bray with a blue plaque for her work starting the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She became the first secretary of the Coventry branch in 1873 before the royal appointment of the RSPCA.

Now the charity, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, has launched an online petition to install a blue plaque in Coventry City Centre.

Born in Nuneaton, Cara Bray was interested in education for the poor and taught in a school set up by her husband.

She was great friends with George Eliot and an 1842 portrait of Bray by the legendary novelist is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

She was once described by Eliot as a ‘radical thinker on religious and political matters.’

She also wrote for the society magazine ‘Animal World’ which is still being produced today and is available from the animal centre reception on Coundon Wedge Drive.

After her death, a horse trough with an inscribed memorial was placed in her memory at Queens Road, which has since been moved to Warwick Row.

The trough includes a wrongly dated tribute to Cara and her role in launching RSPCA Coventry District.

Emma Davies, the Marketing and Fundraising Manager at the RSPCA Coventry and District said without Cara, there wouldn’t be the RSPCA Coventry we have today.

“The branches have formed from those radical thinkers and we could have been absorbed into a different region without her influence.

“Cara and her husband Charles created the legacy we have today which has meant we have a physical centre and a reach across Nuneaton, Rugby, Solihull and Coventry.

“When I first heard about Cara Bray I was surprised that she had been forgotten. Her influence on our branch is clear as well as that of the wider Coventry area.

“She was ahead of her time, as was George Elliot, in doing things unexpected by women.”

As well as the online petition, the charity is looking to increase support in any of their four stores in Earlsdon, Wyken, Coundon and Allesley Park.

Visit to sign the petition.


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