Archive for the ‘BBC Radio Cornwall’ Category

Remembering VE Day May 8 1945 and 2015

May 4, 2015

Our bunting is back out in the World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment garden at Newquay Zoo to remember and mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 1945.

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, late Summer 2011.

Remembering VE day May 8  1945 – many events are planned around Britain and the world to mark this 70th anniversary on Friday 8th May 2015, as the election news settles. The Gov.uk lists several VE Day 2015 projects.  BBC Radio Cornwall have also been collecting and featuring local memories of  VE Day events in 1945.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo  - blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo – blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

Here is a local Victory Day programme (1946) from our World War Zoo Gardens collections at Newquay Zoo:

Marazion VE day 1945

Some interesting and unusual sports – Tip the Bucket, Slow Cycle race – amongst the familiar egg and spoon and sack races  to celebrate Victory Day programme for the Marazion Victory parade in 1946.

 

Marzaion VE day 1945 2

Note the last phrase “The public are asked to decorate their houses with Flags and Bunting for the occasion”.

Many local people were interested to see this original Victory parade programme near its origin at the Trengwainton National Trust Gardens 1940s event in June 2014. A copy has now been passed on to the local Marazion school and museum

We will be back at Trengwainton with part of our wartime collection  at its next Sunday June 14th 2015 event  – check the Trengwainton Gardens website for details. They had a fantastic display at their own wartime allotment, including this fetching V for Victory 1940s garden poster:

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

After VE  day instead of relaxing in the wartime garden and planting flowers,  there was a switch from “Dig For Victory” to “Dig on For Plenty“, realising we had much of Europe to feed.

You can see more of Trengwainton’s wartime ‘victory’ garden and our part in their Victory Day  2014 events here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/trengwaintons-wartime-garden-project-cornwall/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/trengwainton-gardens-hurrah-for-the-home-front-1940s-event-2014-in-pictures/

However for my family and the nation there was still VJ Day to work towards, an a anxious and tired wait for the end of the war against Japan, which finally happened in August 1945.

This was covered in our zoo keeper and botanic garden staff FEPOW and Burma Star blogpost in January 2015: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/ 

Remembering VE Day 1945 …

Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

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It all Depends on Me – or You? Betty Driver RIP, Potato Pete, Mr. Chad and propaganda of the 1940s

October 16, 2011

 

'It All Depends on Me' playing card sized propaganda for your pocket diary, from the Brewers Society, 1941/42 (image from the World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

In David Lowe’s wonderful Sunday evening programme Swingers and Singers (BBC Radio Devon / Cornwall, 8 pm – 10 pm Sundays, catch it on Listen Again  for a week afterwards http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kpf74) about two weeks ago there was a cheery Charlestonesque late 1920s / Early 30s dance band number, called something like “It All Depends on You” which reminded me of this little trade card (above) and bit of morale boosting “It all depends on me” .

A big A4 copy sits above my desk at Newquay Zoo  above the scurf of plant pots, string,  seed packets and books as a little reminder for modern times and busy days at work.

I wonder how people would have responded then to the bossy or cheerful tone of this little card?

Music was  big morale booster, as was the funny little bits of propaganda from Potato Pete to the famous Mr. Chad (Wot No bananas?) still going strong chalked on walls when I was a child. Up near Shepherds Market in London a few months ago I saw the simple little chalk message Cheer Up! written on the wall, which made everyone smile who saw it. Better than the endless cynical  ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ variations everywhere.

Sadly yesterday the death of actress and singer 91 year old Betty Driver was announced, the news clips mentioning as well as her famous spell as Betty Turpin, barmaid of the Rover’s Return from my childhood onwards, there were also soundbites  of her lesser known dance band singing days including Potato Pete’s song. I hope they sing this cheery number at her funeral and have the wake in the Rover’s afterwards …

Maybe this is is a bit different  from the selfish ‘ME’ culture we’re told makes us all so different now from the 1940s generation, although the excellent Foyle’s War on television and various other dark histories of the Home Front pick up on the thriving, skiving and occasionally murderous underworld of the Home Front in difficult wartime. Stealing vegetables from wartime allotments was punishable with a fine (don’t tell this to the visitors who tuck into the odd ripe strawberry from our ‘dig for victory’ plot at Newquay Zoo).

Carolyn Lucas  the Green Party MP has been exploring the difference and similarities between the 1940s and today in her New Home Front report and poster competition, www.newhomefront.org  – worth downloading this report and keeping alook out for the poster competition winners.   

I’ll be talking about this ‘secret’ sustainability side of our wartime garden at the BIAZA Twycross ACE zoo meeting in November – if you want to look at more posters, they have a fantastic collection online at the Imperial War Museum website (see blog roll)and many reproducations in their fabulous online shop.

This week we have a teachers’ open afternoon on Thursday 20th October 2011 for teachers in Cornish schools to come in and meet our education team and find out more about what we offer schools – our Dig for Victory plot and some of the World War Zoo Gardens collection of material used in our schools talks on wartime zoos and wartime life will be on display. See our website for details and  http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/news/world-war-zoo.htm 

We won’t forget Betty Driver / Betty Turpin RIP, and don’t forget – David Lowe’s Swingers and Singers http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kpf74 each Sunday night (I keep wanting to call it ‘Swingers and Sinners’ but that’s probably another very different programme!)

Remember – “It All Depends On Me!” (So I’m off to ‘Dig For Victory!’ in our little allotment plot)

In praise of Garden Societies, 40s music, Vera Lynn and the wireless …

September 25, 2011

Part of our wartime garden display on Make Do and Mend in wartime, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens collection

Another busy week for the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo. The first of this season’s Garden Society talks took place on Wednesday 21st September 2011  at Goonhavern, a few miles east of Newquay. I’m still not unpacked from selecting out a few boxes of display material of wartime gardening books, posters, seed lists and other wartime memorabilia I took along to illustrate my talk on Dig For Victory and its modern parallels in our World War Zoo gardens project at Newquay Zoo. Gardeners (and cooks) loved leafing through these original and reproduction books before and after the talk.

Pinning the (reproduction) Dig For Victory posters up on their noticeboard for the evening felt a little strange as if the Village Hall and Community Centre had been old enough, the originals must once have been pinned there. Garden talks would have taken place in halls like this all over the country to eager Dig for Victory Gardeners 70 years ago. Goonhavern Garden Association celebrate   their 40th anniversary this year – so congratulations on this!

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

As ever my lovely  vintage Dig For Victory  spade dated 1944 (the same type as the  famous boot on spade iconic  poster) was much admired and could have been sold many times over.  A lovely weight and patina to it, this spade is still very capable of active service but now in my museum collection for the present along with a pristine Stirrup Pump. Slightly more battered examples of both are left in the wartime garden plot here at the zoo, to give the real impression that the gardener has just popped out for a few minutes.  

Whilst setting up, I had time to put some Vera Lynn music on for company, which was playing as the Garden Society members arrived. Highly atmospheric, and the music I was brought up to by my 1940s evacuee parents. I’m not sure of the legality of playing my warm up music as people arrive, but then legality and Vera Lynn don’t match in my family.  I recently discovered from my mother that she was the very young (4 or 5 year old) lookout for a gang of fellow evacuees in Ditchling where Dame Vera lived, on watch while the bigger kids went Scrumping in Vera Lynn’s Orchard.  Maybe we should plant an apple tree in our wartime garden section in both their honour …

Canny recyclers before their time! The WI did important work for the Dig For Victory and salvage campaigns. This wartime WI badge is from our wartime display, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo.

Geoffrey Glasse from Goonhavern contacted me afterwards to find out if we were interested in surplus apples etc from his group. What to do with surplus produce in wartime caused many arguments between the Dig For Victory scheme organisers and the Ministry of Agriculture. The WI and canning machines was one solution …

The story of this campaign is well set out in the recent book by Daniel Smith, The Spade as Mighty as the Sword: The Story of World War Two’s ‘Dig for Victory’ Campaign (Aurum Press, 2011) including solutions to mysteries such as whose foot is on the iconic boot on spade Dig For Victory poster? Popularly it is said (for example in Jennifer Davies’ excellent Wartime Kitchen Garden (book of the 1990s BBC TV series) to be a Mr. W.H. McKie of Acton, London, but was it? Another mystery solved: which journalist turned informally dressed Labour Party leader  coined the phrase ‘Dig For Victory’? I was surprised.

As well as posters and radio allotments, newsreel films were well used to encourage reluctant diggers – you can see this in a  lovely short 6 minute Dig For Victory MOI film with Roy Hay the radio allotment gardener http://www.thebigworld.co.uk/howtodigforvictory.htm.

Other good newsreel clips include Radio gardener Mr Middleton chatting ‘Over the Garden Fence’ on this wartime gardening blog: http://wartimegardening.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/mr-middleton-talks-about-gardening/

My next talks are booked in November at  Twycross Zoo’s BIAZA Zoo conference  for the peer audience of Zoo  educators and marketing people . This is a good chance to get into the Bartlett Society (for zoo history research) library / archives held at this zoo. More research for our forthcoming book on wartime zoos and botanic gardens. I’m also talking at a Cornwall College Newquay seminar on the morning of November 30th to many of the FE and HE students at this conservation college next to the zoo.

 So that’s a few dozen people at a time. if you want to reach more, there’s always old (and new) media … the finest of which is wireless.

Radio (or Wireless) and music were important for morale and mood in wartime. The BBC continue this fantastic role today. One of the pick of this week’s listening for me was John Gray on  Radio 4’s Point of View (often a slot for David Attenborough’s Life Stories radio talks) about Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister in 1940. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0150dsv#synopsis

If World War Zoo Gardens had a soundtrack? Its BBC Radio Devon”s every Sunday evening 8pm – 10 pm weekly Swingers&Singers programme (great title). It’s run by David Lowe (on Twitter he’s @ MrNostalja)  and  you can find live on the BBC online website and later on the repeats I-player site.  It’s great to know as I listen to this programme at home with my family that there are thousands of others of all ages tucked up listening to the same programme and its dedications all over the West Country, Britain and beyond. It’s like looking up at the moon and thinking it shines on so many others, the same moon in so many countries. I wonder how mnay people looked at the moon fearfully in wartime as a bombers’ moon. Swingers and Singers is a great source of evocative 1930s, 40s and 50s music. Enjoy!

Happy listening, happy gardening.

Find out more about us on the blog and the Newquay Zoo website. Mark

Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (not) be appearing in our World War Z – oo garden at Newquay Zoo

August 21, 2011

Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (gnot) be appearing in our World War Z-oo  garden  at Newquay Zoo (but only as a gnome, gnot as a zombie slayer)

Don’t be confused. World War Zoo has  a big budget rival and star cast who have been filming in Cornwall and elsewhere in the last few weeks.

World War Z is a blockbuster zombie movie  with Brad Pitt set in an apocalypic future.

World War Zoo gardens is a small budget recreation of a typical wartime Dig For Victory zoo keepers allotment set in the 1940s with a well travelled star cast of … gnomes and vegetables.  

You could argue that both look at dealing with the threats of an uncertain future …. and the garden looks at sustainable options such as local food.

You could argue that getting the ‘look’ right is important in period gardens and zombie  movies – right old posters, right old tools etc.

As for zombies … this is probably my fellow keepers and zoo staff who have led very early morning zoo tours at 5 am and 7am for ‘wild breakfasts’ . We feel quite half dead if not undead by the end of the day … great fun but thankfully that was the last one this year. Until we do halloween tours (see our Newquay Zoo events page). But for now – Zzzzzz….

As for catching a glimpse of ‘Brad’ at the zoo, one of our jolly bearded gnomes now has  g-name! You can see Brad’s jolly beard on the BBC Radio Cornwall footage below. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-14375711

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-14595801

For lots of jolly garden tips, check out the August job lists: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/todo_now/index.php and http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/calendar/August 

http://www.growyourownclub.co.uk

After writing our wartime zoo gardens book, we could write ‘Zombie Gardening’ … you heard it here first. I can see it now on the bookshelves. it makes creepy scarecrows look almost tame.

Of zoos and fire-fighting, today and in wartime …

March 22, 2011

Newquay Zoo Keeper Nicole Howarth doing fire training, Action Fire Protection training, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Newquay Zoo Keeper Nicole Howarth doing fire training, Action Fire Protection training, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Listening to the excellent coverage on BBC Radio Cornwall of the Plymouth / Cornwall Blitz material over the last few days, I was interested to hear that a Saltash or local SE Cornish fire crew had been killed attending the Plymouth Blitz, as this also happened to the Newquay AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) crew despatched to help Plymouth crews on 23 April 1941.

An up-country fire crew was despatched to replace them in Newquay afterwards. It is briefly mentioned in the late Bettye Grey’s book Oh Get On! http://www.narehotel.co.uk/about/book  all about Newquay tourism / life in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I’m told by veteran BBC journalist (reired), Newquay Voice columnist and local boy Chris Blount that Bettye died only a couple of weeks ago but her memories live on in this lively little paperback.

I believe there is a memorial fire bell to the lost crew at Newquay Fire station.

I came across this Newquay fire crew story researching more for the World War Zoo project gardens here at Newquay Zoo. We’re busy preparing for our wartime garden display week in May half term (beginning 28th May for the half term week 2011) which will feature  amongst other areas this aspect of zoos, botanic gardens in wartime and their fire watch / fire training.

Training manual for AFS wartime fire staff, featuring the Coventry made pumps from another blitzed city and the much feared incendiary bomb. (Images: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

 

Fire is still something to be planned for in today’s zoo, with stores of hay and straw. Natural and man-made disasters affecting  zoos and aquariums are not unknown, and many zoo keepers thoughts are with their collegues in Japan at the moment:  http://http://www.waza.org/en/site/pressnews-events/press-releases/zoos-and-aquariums-affected-by-earthquake-and-tsunami-in-japan  gives more details. The response to wartime difficulties in Japanese zoos  is described   in the recently published book by Ms. Mayumi Itoh, Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy: The Silent Victims of World War II, 2010, Palgrave MacMillan, New York (available via Amazon).

No stirrup pump here! Newquay Zoo bird keeper Gary Ward doing modern fire training with Action Fire Protection, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, March 2011

Ironically, the entire Newquay Zoo staff have just done our fire extinguisher and fire awareness training, so it is still something we  think about.

We have for the future ‘wartime zoo’ schools workshops and illustrations for the wartime zoo book and events displays an old stirrup pump (used post war by gardeners for watering and pest control), incendiary bomb and shrapnel, fireman’s tunic, helmet, axe, canvas bucket and other material. All this kit zoo staff would have used in their wartime role or part time work as firemen.  Much of the material will be displayed at our May half term wartime garden week (May 28th to June 5th 2011) – see the Newquay Zoo website for details (blog roll / links opposite) .

The details of the 5 casualties are  from the Commonwealth War Graves site http://www.cwgc.org/search

GUY IVOR CAMERON FEATHERSTONE, Age: 40 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Featherstone, of Green Gables, Pentire, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

ERNEST STANLEY  OLD, Age: 37 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Old, of 9 Trenance Road, Newquay, Cornwall, and of the late J. Old; husband of V. Old, of Endberry House, Berry Road, Newquay. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

BENJAMIN ARTHUR  PHILLIPS, Age: 32 Date of Death: 24/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. C. Phillips husband of Amy Phillips, of 63 Ulalia Road Newquay, Cornwall. Injured 23 April 1941, at Plymouth; died at Prince of Wales Hospital, Greenbank.

 STANLEY VINEER, Age: 38 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Husband of Gladys I. Vineer, of 9 Robartes Road, Newquay, Cornwall. Died at Market Street.

FREDERICK ROBERT ELFORD WHITING, (‘Bob’ Whiting)  Age: 28 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. R. M. Whiting, of Chumley, Porth Way, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

Pathe Newsreel 27 June 1940 ID No. 1290.27 features film  of  a ‘Robert Whiting’ of Newquay making puppet caricatures of topical personalities: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/puppets-2/query/smith

Lest we forget …

POSTSCRIPT

Two weeks ago the Newquay Voice newspaper and columnist Chris Blount produced a whole page feature on the lost 1941 Newquay Fire Crew. I also turned up more information  from Cornwall At War 1939-1945, Peter Hancock, Halsgrove,  2002:

Page 93

“From December 1940 Plymouth became one of the targets for so called Baedeker Raids, cathedral cities listed in the German’s pre-war Baedeker Tourist Guides. These reached their most devastating in March and April 1941. In towns as far away as St. Austell and Newquay people looked to the east to the glow of the blazing city lighting up the night sky. To help deal with the infernos, fire crews were dispatched to Plymouth from stations throughout Cornwall, as well as from the South of England. After a cold journey riding on the sides of the fire tenders, exposed to the elements, the men stayed as long as a week before they were stood down. The crews ate and slept when they could. They were assisted by the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), though they might not have been considered equals. These volunteers, men and women, worked either full time or part time. In Mid 1941 the AFS was combined with the regular fire service to form the National Fire Service under the Fire Services (Emergency Provision) Bill. The problem of incompatible hoses and standpipes was also addressed, as Cornish brigades had found themselves impotent when their hoses would not connect to some Plymouth water mains.”

 “Tragically on 21 April 1941 five volunteer firemen from Newquay were killed, while two others lost limbs. One of the survivors is recorded as saying, ‘It was strange, because nine of us were there and the explosion killed every other one in the line. Each alternate person was all right.” [Quote from the late Albert Trembath, quoted in The Cornish Guardian, 26 April 2001, p.28.]

“On the same night, an underground shelter in Portland Square, Plymouth received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb. 72 people were killed, with only two survivors. Six Saltash AFS men were killed whilst fighting a fire in King Street, Devonport … Between 21-25 April, during what became known as the ‘Five-Night blitz’ on Plymouth, 590 people including 17 firemen were killed. On 23 April 1941 Mount Edgcumbe House was gutted when it was struck by incendiary bombs.  The fire brigades were hampered through a lack of water, as well as by a UXB [Unexploded Bomb] that was reported at the Torpoint Ferry Entrance, causing all traffic to be stopped, proving to be a “serious handicap for Fire Brigades from Cornwall many of whom were stopped at Liskeard and diverted to Saltash”

[Quote from History of Incidents, S.E. Cornwall (Incident No. 61), Cornwall Record Office, Truro.]

An up country fire crew was despatched to replace the AFS crew  in Newquay afterwards. It is briefly mentioned in the late Bettye Grey’s book Oh Get On!  http://www.narehotel.co.uk/about/book  all about Newquay tourism / life in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Bettye Grey’s book excerpt, from pages 91 -92; this is taken from the first hardback edition known as Oh My Dear Life!, 2000, privately published, now available in paperback as: Oh Get On!

“In April 1941 with the blitz at its height the Newquay detachment of the AFS was sent for. By the time they arrived the city was ablaze and they had not even reached the pumps before their fire tender received a direct hit and five Newquay members of the crew were killed … The whole of Newquay grieved for those five brave local chaps. That night 1000 bombs incendiary bombs rained on Plymouth. The whole city burned. In all 17 firemen were killed and the centre of Plymouth had finally been completely destroyed.”

Of Gerald Durrell, wartime gnomes and gardens (and air raid shelters) in zoos … Spain and London latest

March 15, 2011

Our 'missing' wartime gnome sends another postcard home ... from the former air raid shelter tunnels at London Zoo.

Taking shelter at London Zoo September 1939, a sandbagged tunnel under the road (Zoo and Animal magazine, November 1939)

 

Our missing Gnome Guard-ener  from our recreation of a 1940s wartime zoo gardens project sends a message home. ‘Bert’ mysteriously disappeared over a month ago and reappeared first at Paignton Zoo, then has sent another card back from a wartime site at London Zoo:

They used this tunnel as an air raid shelter during World War 2. Unfortunately there wouldn’t have been this bright light then. It would have been cold dark and scary. Just looking at it makes me feel small! Love from your Gnome Guard!”

In our wartime collection of photos, you can see one end of the tunnel sandbagged, a tunnel usually used for moving pedestrians and elephants (which were evacuated to Whipsnade).  In many zoos, empty animal enclosures (London, Bristol, Edinburgh), slit trenches (Whipsnade),  underground aquariums  (Chester) and visiting Birmingham Botanic Gardens last week, underneath their bandstand! Evacuee Peter Pollard was present at Chessington Zoo when the zoo air raid shelters took a direct hit with many casualties – he’s interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall (see website link on our blog roll).   

In the peace of Newquay Zoo, we’ve been busy fencing and smartening up our wartime garden at Newquay Zoo in advance of an expected to be busier than normal  weekend this weekend, 19 and 20th March 2011, for  our Locals weekend – £2 entry (with proof of Cornish address) – see our website www.newquayzoo.org.uk for details.

Hopefully our wartime Gnome Guard-ener will have returned in the next few months for May is proving busy – a talk at Chester Zoo about wartime zoos for members on Saturday 21st May and  a busy May half term week of activities  at Newquay Zoo celebrating both BIAZA’s Love Your Zoo campaign and our Newquay Zoo wartime garden weekend (May 28 – June 5th 2011 http://www.biaza.org.uk 

LATEST POSTCARD RECEIVED 23 March 2011

Have gnome, will travel ... Newquay Zoo's missing wartime Gnome Guard-ener makes it out from Cornwall to Devon and London to Spain! Bioparc Valencia,  March 2011

Have gnome, will travel ... Newquay Zoo's missing wartime Gnome Guard-ener makes it out from Cornwall to Devon and London to Spain! Bioparc Valencia, March 2011

Our roaming gnome has sent a postcard back from Spain – Bioparc Valencia hosted the EZE European Zoo Educators meeting recently, with several British zoo education staff attending. This is probably how Bert got there.

Unusual Bristih visitors in Spain are nothing new. Many unusual British volunteers fought against the ‘fascist’ forces in Spain in 1936, including writer Laurie Lee or observed the fighting  like journalist George Orwell.   

The memory of this civil war time and Franco era is still raw in Spain, as described in Giles Tremletts’ excellent book Ghosts of Spain.  We haven’t yet researched what happened to zoos such as Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War. The bombing of Guernica (famously pictured by Pablo Picasso)  gave British zoo staff planning for the next war a good idea of what to expect from aerial attack.

Whildst this was going on in late 1930s in Spain, not far away the young Gerald Durrell was exploring the animal rich nooks and crannies of the Mediteranean island of Corfu, famously described in My Family and Other Animals.

They also serve, who only sit and read ... Looking a bit like Gerald Durrell, 'Gerald' our replacement wartime Gnome Guard-ener (until the original one returns from his travels, pictured in The Cornish Guardian miniature copy). World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Soon after his return to wartime Britain, Durrell’s time at Whipsnade Zoo in 1945 as a student keeper are described in his other early books. Two mysterious gnomes arrived last week  in our lovely refenced, repaved garden (all work done by zoo builder John Murrell and Mike his garden volunteer). We have a stop-gap Gnome Guard-ener in place until Bert returns, which we have christened “Gerald”.  A slightly more expensive bronze statue of Gerald Durrell can be found at Jersey Zoo.With his cartoonist’s great sense of  humour and his love of travel, we’re sure Gerald would approve of the whole gnome escap-ade, our  wartime garden and its animal enrichment work, not disimilar to the poly tunnel market gardens at Jersey Zoo and now Paignton Zoo.

Postscript to our “Price of Oil, paint, big ships of all nations” – Bombing of the British Chancellor, 10 July 1940.

July 7, 2010

Charles Pears (1873 -1958), painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery http://www.falmouthartgallery.com

David Barnicoat, the Falmouth Harbour pilot and historian spoke to James Churchfield on his BBC Radio Cornwall  breakfast programme today weds 7th July 2010 about the 70th anniversary of the British Chancellor tanker bombing.

You can hear this on Listen Again around about 1:34 to 1:39 hours and minutes in on the Listen Again facility (live for about five days after) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p008m983/James_Churchfield_07_07_2010/

David spoke about the 10 sailors and dock staff killed, the dramatic events at 2.30 p.m. on an otherwise  “lovely sunny day”  and the marking of this anniversary on the Docks on Saturday 10th July 2010 with the sounding of the Docks siren at 2.30 p.m. to mark  the anniversary and commemorate the loss of life and heroic rescue efforts.

David also mentioned the small anniversary gathering of local people held last week  at the Falmouth Art Gallery www.falmouthartgallery.com where the painting of the event is now housed after a long spell on display at the Docks and Harbour offices. The painting is by  Charles Pears, a First and Second World War artist from Yorkshire who lived in the Falmouth area. More of his work hangs in the nearby National Maritime Museum Cornwall http://www.nmmc.org.uk

 You can read more about this story on our previous blog last week ‘The Price of Oil, paint and big ships of all nations’

 The British Chancellor bombing in 1940 and recent Volcanic Ash disruption in 2010 are simple reminders how vulnerable and dependent a maritime nation like Britain is on food and fuel by sea and air, hence the 70th anniversary of the “Dig For Victory” campaign this autumn, marked by our Wartime zoo garden at Newquay Zoo www.newquayzoo.org.uk  and the Imperial War Museum London exhibition Ministry of Food www.food.iwm.org.uk 

Earlier this year BBC Radio Cornwall interviewed a wartime Chessington zoo evacuee, Peter Pollard, http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8539000/8539314.stm

 Listen also to  our recent podcast from the World War Zoo Gardens produced by , download from  World War zoo veg talk June 2010 Newquay Zoo / KernowPod


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