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Author Topic: Maidstone Zoo.  (Read 34766 times)

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Stroodle

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #33 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.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #32 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.

jmartin

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #31 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

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #30 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.



 

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #29 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

Chatham_Girl85

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #28 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 :)

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #27 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.

jmartin

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Re: Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #26 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.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #25 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.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #24 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.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #23 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.

LocalLad

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #22 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.



Chatham_Girl85

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #21 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 :)

seafordpete

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #20 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.

Offline Maid of Kent

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Maidstone Zoo.
« Reply #19 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.

 

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