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.