“What a fantastic collection – really fascinating and never knew so much happened in zoos during the war” said one visitor in our comments book.
1 to 3 May was indeed a very busy three day period, mounting the displays of wartime objects in the atmospheric (and very humid) setting of the Zoo’s Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.
As well as our wartime garden being launched officially for this year, we also had potting up of sunflowers using paper pot makers going on as part of our Planthunters trail.
Links with secret wartime activity by planthunters were celebrated in a trail of ten aircraft recognition cards from WW2 hidden around site for people to find. The silk escape map of SE Asia as part of the Frank Kingdon-Ward display was much admired. We had many walks of life visiting the wartime display from chefs (who searched through the cookery books) to farmers to and head gardeners who pored over the wartime gardening books accompanying our wartime zoo keepers’ garden launch for 2010.
“Very interesting and informative exhibition” remarked Pat & Eric Coling of I.O.W. It was fascinating for us, meeting many of almost two thousand people visiting the displays, gardens and the zoo for this bank holiday event and to see the animals as well.
“This is cool” (child); We received some fabulous feedback on the display and project, especailly on the loaned items including the sections from Douglas Knight of a crashed USAAF Liberator from nearby RAF St Mawgan.
When I agreed to host this relic on site, I didn’t know how much air frame was involved but the one bulky engine cylinder was heavy enough to lift! Armour piercing bullets recovered by Douglas as a Newquay boy told their own story witn their impressive weight, especailly alongside the amzingly unsmashed glass of the optics and fuel gauges. The impact scar at Watergate Bay is still visible over 65 years later, whilst Douglas has done much to keep the everyday sacrifice and loss of life involved from being forgotten through a plaque and memorail service recently. A photograph of the American crew was very poignant alongside the twisted aircraft relics.
“Brought back vivid memories of my childhood living near Brooklands Race Track” said visitor JR Davies; We met a whole range of people during the weekend from primary school teachers and pupils who were studying the Home Front and Britain at war at school, who relished being able to pick up shrapnel and try on helmets relating to a zoo keeper’s involuntary evening duties (Home Guard, National Fire Service and fire watch) to octogenarians sharing their memories of the period, stirred by everything from powdered egg packets to our unissued Rayon stockings and WAAF silk bloomers. “Brilliant – keep going. Great stuff that shouldn’t be lost.”