Leisure => General Leisure => Topic started by: Monkton Malc on July 19, 2009, 22:11:18

Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Monkton Malc on July 19, 2009, 22:11:18
http://www.francisfrith.com/maidstone/photos/zoo-park-c1955_M9030/

The Zoo existed between 1934 and 1959. When it closed down, the animals were dispersed to
other Zoos in the country.


That's all I have found so far :)
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: merc on July 19, 2009, 22:43:11
The zoo was at Cobtree Manor and was owned by Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake,whose hobby it was for over 50 years for keeping wild animals.
When the zoo closed in 1959 he kept some of the Llama's, the Stud of Royal Cream ponies and the parrots.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: seafordpete on July 20, 2009, 08:45:07
The Elephant house is still standing out in the park. I remember going to it in the late 50s it was a manky place though.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on July 20, 2009, 11:50:44
There was a train that you could use on the approach drive to the zoo as it was a good walk! There were only 2 elephants there called Gert and Daisy, the old elephant house IS still there and although it's getting overgrown now, there's a  board there with the story of them.
It's a good place for dog walking and you can watch some golf if you want! Cafe open from 7am to 3pm every day, and a really mangy pond that was ornamental once, which my yorkie decided to dive into, nearly had to go in and get her, she came out almost as pongy as the zoo used to be  ;D, only remember going once when it was open. Good to see the pic though.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: merc on July 20, 2009, 12:37:47
Monday, October 14, 1940

Animals and Air Raids
Some very interesting reports have come from the Maidstone Zoo. The animals show no reaction to the most violent air activity or AA fire, on the other hand, the two chimpanzees though they do not mind the guns, stamp and shriek at the sound of the siren. Of the two Emu's, one is indifferent to the noise, but the other gets so excited at the sound of the AA guns and rushes about so violently that fears are entertained for its safety. A Cow Elephant about 20 years old is so sagacious that she hurries to her house if the AA barrage catches her in the open, but once inside does not mind. Finally, one Lion, normally a quiet animal, after a shell fragment hit him in his cage (doing little hurt as it richocheted off the bars) has become conditioned to the AA guns, starting to rip his cage to bits every time they start firing.

I don't think this next bit refers specifically to the zoo:

As regards to wild birds, there is a good deal of evidence that many of the larger kinds are disturbed by the sound of bombs or AA fire, with song-birds and other passerines, however, the chief reaction seems to be to aircraft. They treat the aircraft as if they were hawks, the birds scattering downwards and crouching to avoid detection. There are two curious exceptions to this, neither Robins nor any member of the Swallow tribe have been seen to pay the slightest attention to aircraft.

From The Times.

Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on July 20, 2009, 16:45:46
Not sure about the zoo though, as it`s been said the elephant house is still there, apparently there's a story of a fragment of bomb or shell or something lodging into the roof just missing the elephants.
So as you say merc, about the AA guns etc,, where were the placements for this?
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: grandarog on July 20, 2009, 18:20:22
Hi all,
          There is a very interesting book about Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake and the Cobtree Estate. ISBN 0949193344. Its long out of print but the local library should have a copy or get you one if you are interested,
                                                                                          Rog
                      &n
bsp;                                                                            
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: merc on July 20, 2009, 19:28:49
so as u say merc about the AA guns etc, where was the placements for this?
I know there was one somewhere at Burham ???

I don't know if there was any others in that area or not...
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on August 01, 2009, 11:44:23
I walk past the entrance on my way to work. So took the opportunity (however you spell it) when the weather was nice to take some pics.

Only of the entrance area though, sorry. It`s a lovely place to take the dogs for a w a l k. Cannot say it out loud as they will hear and start going mad looking for there l e a d s. Can`t say that either gives the same effect as the w word lol
But next time I take them I shall take some photos of the inside, like the elephant house and 'ornate' pond.


But here are a few photos.

The cafe sign.
(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/P220709_11430001.jpg)

Entrance
(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/P220709_11440001.jpg)


(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/P220709_11450001.jpg)

The darker green grass is in like a dip and goes westwards from the entrance along the hedge. Was wondering if this was the location of the little railway that took visitors to the entrance. I`m not sure where the original entrance to the zoo was though.

(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/P220709_11460002.jpg)
Near the edge of the hedge between the park and the house next door I found this piece of metal in the grass, not sure of what it is. Again i was thinking back to the railway, not sure if it is to do with that or not.


And as you come over the motorway bridge from the Malta Inn side there is the Gate House I suppose at the front of
the drive way that leads up to Cobtree Cottages. The cottages are on private land so didn`t dare venture up the driveway in case there are BIG DOGS lol

But here is the cottage at the front of the driveway. It`s up for sale too!
i want it  :'(

(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/P280709_11350001.jpg)


Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on August 01, 2009, 15:55:19
Went there last Sunday, the elephant house is almost completely overgrown with ivy now but we steered clear of the 'ornate' pond, someone else's hadn't and was covered in yuk !
Can't honestly remember where the entrance was now, seem to think it was somewhere on the bottom of Bluebell Hill , but since the road changed I've lost it. Could well have been where the entrance is now ??
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: MedKev86 on August 01, 2009, 16:36:03
I have a vague memory of what I guess was this place. About 10 years ago I remember going to pick blackberries with a friend and his parents, not too interested in picking said blackberries we went for a wander, ended up in the elephant house, it was very overgrown back then as well if I remember, but we went inside. It was pretty scary if I remember. We soon ran away from it thinking we had stumbled across something we shouldn't be in! I think the enterance was on the bottom of Blue Bell Hill, somewhere near where the exit to the golf course is maybe?
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: seafordpete on August 01, 2009, 17:03:30
I alway thought it was on the A229 too, probably lost along with Veglios when the assorted improvents (?) happened. Pete
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on August 01, 2009, 20:29:46
found this.
a link to a book with a piccie in

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.1940.co.uk/history/books/wla/group.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.1940.co.uk/history/books/wla/wla.htm&usg=__JAYyLn1qezdw2FJEYNitfxvhS6Q=&h=272&w=381&sz=15&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=_a9sVoJ7nGKO4M:&tbnh=88&tbnw=123&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmaidstone%2Bzoo%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: tono on August 07, 2009, 00:14:43
I alwaysa thought it was on the A229 too, probably lost along with Veglios when the assorted improvents (?) happened. Pete

When you come off the London Bound J6 exit and take the 1st exit (to Chatham), you run alongside the A229 flyover.

Before you pass under the motorway, on the left there is/was a slight layby with a load of rubble in it. That is where The Veglios Motel used to be.

I wonder if anybody has any pictures of it.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on August 09, 2009, 15:34:41
The 'Ornate Pond'
(http://i543.photobucket.com/albums/gg454/ChathamGirl85/Out%20and%20About/tillie034.jpg)
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chris_Kent on August 26, 2009, 23:08:11
Hey guys, I was walking around the old zoo today looking for subtle remnants of the railway (as you do) and I remembered I had posted this here. Having never visited the zoo (closed before I was born) I have to base all of these things on what I can find there, all the literature I have amassed on the place and a bit of common sense :D.
The map here is based on some areas I found whilst walking on the golf course (shhhh) which were obviously unused and redundant but were ballasted loosely and were in the right place. From what I have I found in books that the railway was about 500 yards which seems about right, but it looks like some of its original route is lost under the golf course. I can only assume that it travelled further to the pay box area (red circle) as mentioned. The pay box area is approximate due to there having been a large strip of land bought in the 80's to widen the Chatham road further, so I fear it's original site may be under that road now. The green circle is the original entrance area to the actual zoo.
(http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs158.snc1/5920_120273744875_544364875_2150208_2872717_n.jpg)

Hope this helps, if anyone can add to this from personal experince that would be great.
I do have shedloads of photos and junk from the zoo but I don`t have a scanner and its all in good old paper format :(
will upload some stuff if I can find a way :D
Saw the "ornate" pond today but its all bone dry, like someone literally pulled the plug on it! Never seen it like that before :O
cheers
Chris
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: seafordpete on August 27, 2009, 09:20:02
I'm sure there was some visible when the car park off Forstal Rd. was built for Cobtree Park about 30 years back.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on September 11, 2009, 14:43:00
Been reading on Knowhere, quite informative and I found this someone had written:


Well remember Sir Garrard Tyrwhitte-Drake's zoo. I used to bike from Edna Road on Ringlestone Estate quite often. The light railway I used only once for the novelty. It was out of action for a while when a doodle-bug hit the fir trees at the back of the buildings. Sir GT-D also used to have a field between the Running Horse and the Zoo where he ran trotting races for his own pleasure and rode around town (when not on his horse) in a beautiful yellow 'roller'. As has been mentioned, the Zoo itself was rather sad and it was what put me off caged animals as entertainment for ever.
Is the family still in the area?
 
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Maid of Kent on June 15, 2010, 14:16:56
Paid several visits to the zoo as a small child which I loved and made my last visit, taking my young cousin there by bus, sometime in 1951. I have always wondered exactly where it was now that I am very grown up! So now I can look it up on the map.  The little railway ran from the entrance at the bottom of Bluebell Hill - down, I suppose, the main tree lined drive to the house on the RHS going towards the zoo. I am sure it was a steam locomotive.

I have heard it said ( probably by my Mother) that Charles Dickens had Cobtree Manor in mind when he wrote about Christmas at Dingly Dell in Pickwick Papers.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: seafordpete on June 15, 2010, 14:40:21
and rode around town (when not on his horse) in a beautiful yellow 'roller'. As has been mentioned, the zoo itself was rather sad and it was what put me off caged animals as entertainment for

I'm sure his `Rolls` used to be in the Carriage Museum at one time, seem to recall a news item. It was sold about 10 years back.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on June 15, 2010, 17:51:56
Paid several visits to the zoo as a small child which I loved and made my last visit, taking my young cousin, there by bus sometime in 1951. I have always wondered exactly where it was now that I am very grown up! So now I can look it up on the map.  The little railway ran from the entrance at the bottom of Bluebell Hill - down, I suppose, the main tree lined drive to the house on the RHS going towards the zoo. I am sure it was a steam locomotive.

I have heard it said ( probably by my Mother) that Charles Dickens had Cobtree Manor in mind when he
wrote about Christmas at Dingly Dell in Pickwick Papers.

Just as you go over the M20 motorway bridge going into Aylesford there is a gate house/ cottage that I have photographed. There is a driveway alongside it and there is Dingly Dell cottages there :)
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: LocalLad on June 16, 2010, 15:02:47
Paid several visits to the zoo as a small child which I loved and made my last visit, taking my young cousin, there by bus sometime in 1951. I have always wondered exactly where it was now that I am very grown up! So now I can look it up on the map.  The little railway ran from the entrance at the bottom of Bluebell Hill - down, I suppose, the main tree lined drive to the house on the RHS going towards the zoo. I am sure it was a steam locomotive.

I have heard it said ( probably by my Mother) that Charles Dickens had Cobtree Manor in mind when h
e wrote about Christmas at Dingly Dell in Pickwick Papers.
Hi Maid of Kent,
I too remember going to the Maidstone Zoo, my parents took me a couple of times in the late 40s, early 50s. I remember we went by bus from Medway, getting off on the original Chatham Rd., walked across the road (something you wouldn't be able to do today), to the track up to the Zoo.
I remember we walked all the way up this track for what seemed ages, it started of with what seemed like a steep incline before it levelled out, here there was a rail trackway on the left hand side of the track going up to the Zoo entrance, the first time we went there had been at the end of the track a derelict 6-wheeled double decker bus, the next time we went it had gone, unfortunately on neither occasion were there any trains running, it seemed to be all overgrown and abandoned.
I have posted two maps, the earliest I could find is from 1970, the only difference to earlier is that the Chatham Rd. has been realigned to the west of the 'Running Horse', you can see where the track met the Chatham Rd.
The second map is more up to date, and shows the same area, Tyland farm (now Tyland Barn) is between the old and new roads, Sandling Lane has grown longer going across Chatham Rd. instead of ending there, also the stretch of road between the two roundabouts on the alignment of the old Chatham Rd. is now called Sandling Lane, so the beginning of the Zoo access would be in the vicinity of the Maidstone exit from the Cobtree roundabout.
(http://i797.photobucket.com/albums/yy254/locallad/general/Sandling-map_1970s.jpg)
(http://i797.photobucket.com/albums/yy254/locallad/general/Sandling-map_2004.jpg)
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on October 16, 2010, 10:00:07
HI Chris.

Vickie Harris of sittingbourne was gradually putting her book together about the Maidstone Zoo.
It was published in 1994 called the Story of Maidstone Zoo the twenty six years of the zoo Hugh Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake gave pleasure to hundreds of thousands of people. Meresborough Books ISBN 0948 193 808.
Vickie lived in Sittingbourne but spent a lot of time in Zimbawi. I understand she has since died.
I have the book it has many pictures of personalities who went there as well as the animalsand the train
Smiler, you gave me quite a shock when you said that Vickie Harris had died, until I noticed the date of your post -2009. Vickie still lives in Sittingbourne and it was only a few months ago that I was chatting to her about the book. Her father, Ronald White, was the official photographer at the Zoo and I think that Vickie`s brother, Ivan, still runs the family photographic shop/studio in Maidstone. It is now very difficult to find a copy of `The Story of Maidstone Zoo` but I believe that an updated version is now on CDRom or soon will be. I`ve heard that copies of the book have been on sale for as much 65.
I have just heard that a copy of the book has been offered at 100.
(21 Oct 2010) Two copies on Amazon at 110.85 each.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 20, 2010, 15:58:04
I`ve just discovered that "The Story of Maidstone Zoo" is now available on CD ROM from Ronald Whites Photographic Shop in Maidstone. It has probably more info than the book which was printed in 1994.
Title: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Sentinel S4 on February 15, 2011, 10:12:43
Hi all. I asked Dad about Maidstone Zoo. The initial repy was unprintable..... Hey Ho. Then he came back with some info on the railway. He was far more interested in this than the animals, no change there then (could that be hereditary I wonder). According to Dad the line ran from the entrance at the road to the Zoo entrance proper alongside the Drive. He stated that there was a bend in the Drive toward the Zoo and you could not see one end from the other. There were loco run round loops at each end and it was just over the half mile in length. He has said nothing about loco she as yet no doubt that will appear. He has stated that when they first went there his Dad looked and stated that it was a Trench Railway and the coaches were converted 'D' wagons. Both locos were Simpex with petrol engines with Armstrong starters. One was a very crude facimile of a steam loco. It was 2" gauge and very probably bought in kit form from the clearing depot at Purfleet. The 'D' class wagons were the standard bogie wagons of the ROD for the Trench lines in France. Many were converted to really decent coaches by several builders between the Wars, there are still several 'D' class chassis still out there in service. Maidstone however did not have the expensive conversion they had more of a home grown job. When ever the family got to the entrance Dad told me that he hoped that the train was there otherwise it was a long walk that as his Mother said "was good for you............" We`ve all been there I think. The Zoo was long gone by the time I was born but an interesting subject all the same.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: jmartin on November 17, 2012, 01:06:12
Hi all, many thanks for the background information on the old zoo and in particular reference to the "The Story of Maidstone Zoo" book, which I was unaware of. My late father had an interesting connection with the zoo in that he donated a leopard to the zoo in late 1949-50. JM senior lived in India throughout the 40's and along with another Irishman Paddy Gillard and an Englishman Arthur Hammond (who I believe came from the Bognor Regis area), they fostered a leopard cub whose mother had been killed. They named her "Whiskers" (which went on to become a best selling cat food!) and she lived with the 3 of them in their house on the compound. Play time involved donning a pair of custom made arm length leather gauntlets to protect their arms from being torn to ribbons.

Eventually the leopard became too large for them to manage and by that time the locals were refusing to enter the house when Whiskers was there, so it was arranged to send her Maidstone Zoo. The zoo renamed her to something a bit less domestic, and my father never saw her again, but Paddy Gillard did a few years later. I am reliably informed by Paddy's wife, Zena, that when he called out "Whiskers" to her, she came over to the bars and he was able to stroke her as before, much to the horror of the keeper who warned him his arm would be bitten off!

Its a great story full of colonial adventure, and naturally I would be delighted if anyone could shed a bit more light on the story or have any information, photos or recollection of the leopards that were in the zoo around that time.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on November 17, 2012, 09:40:51
There is an illustrated talk about Maidstone Zoo on 21st November, 19.00 - 21.00, at The United Reformed Church, Central Avenue, Sittingbourne, by Vickie Harris, the author of "The Story of Maidstone Zoo". Vickie`s father was the official photographer at the Zoo and there`s not much she doesn`t know about it. The entrance fee is 3.
"The Story of Maidstone Zoo" is now very difficult to obtain but I believe an updated version is now available on CD Rom.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on November 17, 2012, 21:12:22
There is a copy of Vickie Harris' book available to loan at Gillingham Library. If anyone is interested I can get the details :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on November 18, 2012, 11:26:30
There is a copy of Vickie Harris' book available to loan at Gillingham Library. If anyone is interested I can get the details :)

ISBN 0948193 808
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 21, 2012, 10:00:21
Hi all, many thanks for the background information on the old zoo and in particular reference to the "The Story of Maidstone Zoo" book, which I was unaware of. My late father had an interesting connection with the zoo in that he donated a leopard to the zoo in late 1949-50. JM senior lived in India throughout the 40's and along with another Irishman Paddy Gillard and an Englishman Arthur Hammond (who I believe came from the Bognor Regis area), they fostered a leopard cub whose mother had been killed. They named her "Whiskers" (which went on to become a best selling cat food!) and she lived with the 3 of them in their house on the compound. Play time involved donning a pair of custom made arm length leather gauntlets to protect their arms from being torn to ribbons.

Eventually the leopard became too large for them to manage and by that time the locals were refusing to enter the house when Whiskers was there, so it was arranged to send her Maidstone Zoo. The zoo renamed her to something a bit less domestic, and my father never saw her again, but Paddy Gillard did a few years later. I am reliably informed by Paddy's wife, Zena, that when he called out "Whiskers" to her, she came over to the bars and he was able to stroke her as before, much to the horror of the keeper who warned him his arm would be bitten off!

Its a great story full of colonial adventure, and naturally I would be delighted if anyone could shed a bit more light on the story or have any information, photos or recollection of the leopards that were in the zoo around that time.

jmartin, I have just received a photo of a leopard which I believe may possibly be "Whiskers". The story attached to it is so similar that I think it must be the leopard you spoke of. Unfortunately, as yet, I haven`t permission to publish it but I will do so when I have.
The story of this animal mentions Capt. Raynor and his wife and also two names, "Pussa" and "Tim o Timelle". Capt. Raynor paid for a special cage, which was a condition on which Sir Garrard housed him/her in the Zoo. I say him/her as the gender appears to be the only problem, as you refer to `her` and the account refers to `him`. Capt. Raynor also crossed the barriers to stroke him/her much to the dismay of the keepers, who feared that it would encourage others to do the same. The account I have states that the leopard was at the Zoo, 1948 - 1950s, which tallies approximately with your account, but does not say say whether it was the date of arrival or merely the dates of the time that it was known to be at the Zoo. This information comes from an impeccable source. I think I PM`d you some time ago (before I received the above info.) but, as you haven`t replied, I may have made a mess of it and it`s gone into `cyberspace`.

Edit: In my account, the name "Joyce" appears, which may be relevant -  J(oyce)Martin? Possibly a maiden name as the surname of the Joyce (in my account) is not Martin. The name "Pussa" I believe to be a person`s nickname and Tim o Timelle referring to the leopard.



 
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: jmartin on December 26, 2012, 18:18:57
Hi Bryn, thank you for your post and for making your inquiries. I've checked with Zena who remembers the leopard was definitely a "he", and not a "she" as I had indicated. This would match with the account of the leopard you mentioned, but she is sure the leopard was still in India until late 1949 or 50.  I would be very interested to see the photos you have when its OK to post them, and would be grateful if you could mail me to let me know as I don`t check the forum regularly, thanks jm
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on December 26, 2012, 18:59:06
jmartin, unfortunately the only photo I have is the one on my last post. I`ll email you, but can only do this via KHF as I don`t know your address.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Stroodle on February 02, 2013, 18:40:12
On Radio2 this morning they were interviewing Petula Clark, and someone phoned in to ask if she remembered opening Maidstone Zoo (as the caller lived next door to the zoo at the time). I assume this would have been at the start of the summer season one year. Must have been pretty late on in if the zoo closed in the late 50's.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on February 02, 2013, 21:39:35
Petula Clark opened the Zoo in March, 1953 for the summer season when she was 18. TV cameras covered the event for the first time.

In 1954, Julie Andrews attended the 1954 opening ceremony, which was performed by the Mayor of Maidstone, and showed great interest in one of the Royal Cream Ponies which Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake supplied to draw Cinderella`s coach at the London Palladium at Christmas 1953, in which Julie was the star.

I`m certain that I remember the same ponies drawing the coach at the Chatham Empire many years ago.


Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on February 03, 2013, 09:03:54
On Radio2 this morning they were interviewing Petula Clark, and someone phoned in to ask if she remembered opening Maidstone Zoo (as the caller lived next door to the zoo at the time). I assume this would have been at the start of the summer season one year. Must have been pretty late on in if the zoo closed in the late 50's.
Come on Stroodle what was Pets answer?  :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Maid of Kent on February 04, 2013, 17:56:22
Bryn, you mentioned you thought that you had seen little cream ponies pulling Cinderellas coach at the Chatham Empire. There was a production of Cinderella at the Chatham Empire Christmas 1946 or 47 (with Sandy Powell as Buttons) and the only part that really impressed me was the lovely pumpkin glass coach pulled by the two lovely little ponies.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on February 04, 2013, 20:56:27
The ponies were still there a long time after the zoo closed in the field between the big house and the lake.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on February 04, 2013, 21:26:12
Bryn, you mentioned you thought that you had seen little cream ponies pulling Cinderellas coach at the Chatham Empire. There was a production of Cinderella at the Chatham Empire Christmas 1946 or 47 (with Sandy Powell as Buttons) and the only part that really impressed me was the lovely pumpkin  glass coach pulled by the two lovely little ponies.
Thanks for reminding me about Sandy Powell as Buttons. I had completely forgotten him - "Can you `ere me moother?"
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on February 04, 2013, 21:54:46
The ponies were still there a long time after the zoo closed in the field between the big house and the lake.
As far as I know, the Royal Cream Ponies were not really part of the Zoo. They had a free run of the Cobtree Estate and could be seen by visitors to the Zoo.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on February 05, 2013, 10:22:41
Thank you Bryn that may well be the reason  :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on February 05, 2013, 11:25:38
The Royal Cream Ponies were bred from a stallion named Prince, which Sir Garrard bought in 1913. Unable to find a cream mare, he experimented and the eventual result was cream foals. Prince`s ancestors pulled Queen Victoria`s coach, hence "Royal". A rather sad story is that due to the lack of horsemeat, etc., during WWII,  Sir Garrard was forced to `sacrifice` two of the ponies in order satisfied the needs of the large carnivores. The only time that he slaughtered a well animal.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Robin on March 06, 2013, 19:24:30
There is a copy of Vickie Harris' book available to loan at Gillingham Library. If anyone is interested I can get the details :)

At my monthly Active Retirement Group meeting today, we were given a very interesting illustrated talk by Vicky Harris, I was able to have a quick browse of her book, she certainly knows her history.

Robin.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on June 21, 2013, 19:17:21
I've just read this book by Vickie Harris, thoroughly enjoyed reading it too  :) From her Introduction, it seems she had to get a lot of information from newspapers etc. Lady Tyrwhitt-Drake told her that all of the papers and records of the zoo had been lost. I'm just very pleased she managed to find as much as she did. Some wonderful photo's in it and memories from staff that worked there.

I'm not sure now if the 'ornate' pond I mentioned in an earlier post is recorded as 'The Lake ' perhaps it was bigger then than it is now, but although we still visit Cobtree Park often, it's hard to tell from the map layout in the book, just what was where. How it's all changed, this year it has certainly had thousands spent on it and is a lovely place to visit. The small bit about a Wallaby escaping in September 1946 gave me a chuckle. It managed to get as far as Borstal village before it was captured and put into someone's Anderson shelter in their garden, until the van and staff came to collect it.  :)

S4, a little bit about the train ..." Sir Garrard purchased the track secondhand from a local quarry? Avery brothers of Maidstone built a steam-outline loco, powered by 14hp petrol engine and two open 18 seat coaches were constructed on the frames of old tram cars"

Lovely little book, I really enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Gazza7558 on August 19, 2013, 22:37:30
I was given a VHS tape recently which contained footage taken by an amateur photographer on a cine camera in the 1950's. On the tape there is a small portion showing children from Rodmersham Primary School on a day trip to Maidstone Zoo. I have uploaded the zoo portion to You Tube and it can be found via the following link. http://youtu.be/fWo67L9wIFQ
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: kyn on August 19, 2013, 23:03:07
Than you for doing that, I am sure some of the members will really enjoy seeing it!
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on August 20, 2013, 05:29:25
When trying to get into Gazza7558  link I can only get "this video is private" link sounds interesting, can it be corrected please?
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on August 20, 2013, 07:27:01
Snap ! The same goes for me Gazza7558, I'd love to see the clip please.  :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 20, 2013, 09:17:54
I was given a VHS tape recently which contained footage taken by an amateur photographer on a cine camera in the 1950's. On the tape there is a small portion showing children from Rodmersham Primary School on a day trip to Maidstone Zoo. I have uploaded the zoo portion to You Tube and it can be found via the following link. http://youtu.be/fWo67L9wIFQ
I would love to see this video but cannot access it as it says it is private. Any ideas?
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Gazza7558 on August 20, 2013, 14:22:49
Sorry to have to say that the video is still private.

I know I've done it right this time, my colleague downstairs has just opened it.  I'm confident if you try this now it will work.
http://youtu.be/fWo67L9wIFQ
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 20, 2013, 14:34:19
Many thanks Gazza! That was great. I`ll let Vickie Harris know about this as I`m sure she doesn`t know about this. Thanks again!
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on August 20, 2013, 15:59:58
Many thanks from me too Gazza ! Wonderful clip, it was great.  :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Gazza7558 on August 20, 2013, 16:35:20
Many thanks Gazza! That was great. I`ll let Vickie Harris know about this as I`m sure she doesn`t know about this. Thanks again!
I had the pleasure of speaking to Mrs Harris yesterday. It appears she has seen this before, I believe as a result of a talk she gave on the subject of Maidstone zoo, a former pupil of the school who also had a copy of the original cine film showed it to her. As an aside, the tape contains about 40 minutes of footage in total, with very clear film of young children at school sports days etc. I'll post them in due course as those children will be in their 60's by now. It would be great to be able to identify a few of those on the film.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: ann on August 20, 2013, 17:36:37
What a lovely film clip, I really enjoyed the nostalgia of it. My mother used to do my hair just like the little girls shown, with the enormous bow.  Made me recall my childhood.  I can remember being taken to the zoo as a child by my parents, and getting a bus there, but sadly that it all I remember.  Incidentally I liked the accompanying music track, any idea what it was?
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 20, 2013, 21:37:01
Many thanks Gazza! That was great. I`ll let Vickie Harris know about this as I`m sure she doesn`t know about this. Thanks again!
I had the pleasure of speaking to Mrs Harris yesterday. It appears she has seen this before, I believe as a result of a talk she gave on the subject of Maidstone zoo, a former pupil of the school who also had a copy of the original cine film showed it to her. As an aside, the tape contains about 40 minutes of footage in total, with very clear film of young children at school sports days etc. I'll post them in due course as those children will be in their 60's by now. It would be great to be able to identify a few of those on the film.
Gazza7558, at the same time that you posted, I was in Vickie`s house and about to surprise her with news of the film, but by her expression I realised that she already knew about it. She then told me the whole story how this came about.  A few faces on the film seem to be familiar and also the name Ledger. Anyway, thanks again for this unique piece of film.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on August 21, 2013, 07:46:26
Very good Gazza "Thank you"
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Leah T on April 29, 2014, 13:11:53
Hello there! I'm trying to organise a small free exhibition at Kent Life Heritage Farm Park in Sandling to mark the 80th anniversary of the opening of Maidstone Zoo. We've got lots of wonderful photos that have kindly been loaned to us by various people and we'd love to also include the wonderful cine film footage that Gazza7558 posted on YouTube.

We have no idea who owns the copyright but we'd dearly love to talk to Gazza7558, or anyone else who has a version of the film that they'd be happy to lend us so that Kent Life visitors can enjoy during their time with us. We've already contacted Rodmersham Primary School to see if anyone can help us but had no joy so far.

If Gazza7558, or anyone else, can help, please get in touch! We're hoping to launch our little exhibition in June (2014).
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on May 01, 2014, 06:23:57
PM sent.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: grandarog on May 01, 2014, 21:40:22
Great bit of Film. I remember visiting the Zoo a couple of times about then but don`t recall seeing Polar Bears. The big attraction were the 2 Elephants Gert and Daisy and riding on a Camel. :)
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: helcion on August 28, 2014, 22:31:28
When I was a little lad in the late 40s I remember a visit to the zoo & can recall the railway track along the approach road, but don't remember a train on it.

However I have come across a large number of high quality pictures that seem to have been taken on the opening day of the zoo with many well-dressed people.
Amongst the 80 or so photos there are many photos of the railway & the photos are credited to 'Frederick Carley'

The photos are in the 'Kent Photo Archive' & I attach just one of the railway photos   -  I'm not sure whether we're allowed to post pix from other sites   -   if this is not permitted would one of the mod.team kindly delete the photo.

The link to the photo is   -

http://www.kentphotoarchive.com/kpa/search/thumblarge.php?townkeywordname=&featurekeywordname=ZOO&startnumber=28&pagenumber=1 (http://www.kentphotoarchive.com/kpa/search/thumblarge.php?townkeywordname=&featurekeywordname=ZOO&startnumber=28&pagenumber=1)

The archive home page is   -

http://www.kentphotoarchive.com/kpa/desktopindex.php (http://www.kentphotoarchive.com/kpa/desktopindex.php)

The site is packed with some wonderful photos   -   to find the zoo photos just type 'zoo' into the 'Feature' box & choose from the offerings that will come up.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: grandarog on August 29, 2014, 10:47:20
What a marvellous collection! Well found helcion. :) That`s exactly as I remember the places.

Having just spent an hour going through the photos, it appears that Fred was the tame photographer for the Zoo. He has recorded the annual opening days and all the celebrity visitors throughout the 1938 & 1939 seasons. Lovely picture of all the Windmill girls. The Zoo was actually begun and opened for the first time in 1934.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Bryn Clinch on August 29, 2014, 13:06:31
Wholeheartedly agree with you, grandarog!

Frederick Carley must have been the first photographer at the zoo and preceded Ronald White, whose shop is still in Maidstone and run by his son, Ivan.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: Lyn L on August 29, 2014, 13:15:49
I'm going to agree as well  :) a lovely collection of photo's . Thanks helcion for adding the link.
Title: Re: Maidstone Zoo.
Post by: smiler on January 12, 2015, 12:17:18
(http://i1018.photobucket.com/albums/af310/smiler2/Images%20for%20Kent%20forum/scan0002-10.jpg) (http://s1018.photobucket.com/user/smiler2/media/Images%20for%20Kent%20forum/scan0002-10.jpg.html)


Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake on his white horse at the head of Maidstone Carnival 1964