Archive for the ‘Cornwall’ Category

The Somme, the Ennor family, Living Memory and our local CWGC headstones in Newquay

October 19, 2016

imageLiving Memory is a project with CWGC to mark the 141 days of the Somme campaign and encourage people across communities and schools to connect with local CWGC burials and cemeteries in their areas.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/cwgc-projects/living-memory.aspx

In 2016 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in partnership with Big Ideas Company are asking the public in the British Isles to re-connect with the war dead buried in their own communities. CWGC has 200 large sites in the UK, almost all in big city cemeteries and linked to the hospitals: the majority of these men either died of their wounds in hospital or (in 1918-19) died in the influenza epidemic. In total CWGC graves in the UK are located in over 12,000 locations. They must not be forgotten.

As part of the WW1 Centenary partnership, the World War Zoo Gardens project (Newquay Zoo) has been looking at how the First World War impacted on zoos and botanic gardens, following on from looking at the impact of the Second World War on the food problems, staffing and other challenges of surviving wartime.

In my local work town of Newquay where our wartime garden project is based as part of Newquay Zoo, there are several cemeteries with a scatter of distinctive CWGC headstones. Many of them are WW2 air crew from local airfields.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/2102977/NEWQUAY%20(FAIRPARK)%20CEMETERY      Newquay Fairpark Cemetery WW2 casualties

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/36994/NEWQUAY%20NEW%20CEMETERY Newquay Crantock Street or New Cemetery WW1 casualties

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/4003934/NEWQUAY,%20URBAN%20DISTRICT Newquay registered / related WW2 civilian deaths

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/37026/NEWQUAY%20(ST.%20COLUMB%20MINOR)%20CEMETERY  Newquay St. Columb Minor Cemetery – mostly WW2 casualties

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/37025/ST.%20COLUMB%20MAJOR%20CEMETERY  Newquay St Columb Major Cemetery – WW1 and WW2 casulaties containing the (Somme related?) casualty James Mangan.

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Amongst these cemeteries are   several interesting clusters of WW1 graves which tell an interesting story about how the soldiers and civilians of Britain were fed and supplied  in the First World War.

At Newquay New Cemetery the WW1 graves cover several local servicemen who died of wounds at home during or after the war, as well as some of the crew of SS War Grange, a Merchant Navy ship torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Newquay coast in May 1918.

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SS War Grange torpedoed off Newquay 1918

 

I was surprised to learn that Rationing began in WW1 as did an early form of “Dig for Victory.” Both had been introduced to deal with the U Boat sinking of merchant shipping and the effects on the British food and war materials supply. A similar Royal Navy blockade was beginning to cripple the food supply and raw materials for war production of Germany and her Allies.

I will cover more about the mixed range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds of the SS War Grange (1918) and SS Falaba (1915) casualties including a stewardess  Louisa Tearle SS Falaba 1915 http://www.tearle.org.uk/tag/louisa/ and a donkeyman Abdul Mahjid from the SS War Grange, in a separate blogpost.

The Tearle website (above) shows the Newquay New Cemetery and her distinctive slate grey headstone, different from the white portalnd stone used by CWGC elsewhere.

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Living Memory and the 141 days of the Somme

Buried in the Newquay (Crantock Street) New Cemetery alongside these sailors  is a local Somme casualty, one of two Ennor  brothers from Newquay who died in the First World War.

Private Reginald Charles Ennor, DCLI / 7th London Regiment

Reginald Charles Ennor of Newquay, who died in hospital on 10 October 1916, was buried at home, unlike many of the Somme casualties.

Reginald served with the 7th City of London Battalion Regiment as Service No:6468. but was formerly enlisted as 24601, 9 th D.C.L.I. Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry  (the  local regiment).

Reginald’s regiment the 7th Battalion The London Regiment (nicknamed the ‘Shiny Seventh’ ) landed in France in March 1915 as part of the 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division. They first saw action at Festubert in May 1915, and took part in major battles at Loos in September 1915, Vimy in May 1916 and High Wood in September 1916.

By the time of this Somme attack on the Butte de Warlencourt in October 1916, Reginald Ennor would be dying of wounds at home in Britain.

The 47th Division’s attack at High Wood, 15 September 1916
In late July 1916 the 1/7th London Battalion marched south to begin training to enter the ongoing Somme offensive. The battalion practised on positions marked out by flags, and adopted identification stripes on their arms: A Company blue, B Co green, C Co red and D Co yellow. On 15 September, 47th Division attacked High Wood to cover the left flank of the tank-led attack of the adjacent divisions on Flers.

The first objective for 140 Bde was a line clear of High Wood (the Switch Line), the second was the Starfish Line on the forward slope, and then the strong Flers Line. The 1/7th and 1/15th were to open the attack, after which the 1/8th would pass through to capture the Starfish Line and finally the 1/6th would pass through and continue to the Flers Line.

The 1/7th advanced rapidly behind a creeping barrage and took over 100 prisoners, but suffered severe casualties in taking the Switch Line and consolidating just in front of it. The battalion was relieved on the evening of 17 September and moved forward to relieve the 1/8th in the Starfish Line, where they were counter-attacked and bombarded for two days. (Wikipedia entry)

By the time the 7th Londons left the line on 20 September, the ‘Shiny Seventh’ were caked in mud and had suffered over 300 casualties including Reginald Ennor on or around the 18th September. The regiment was awarded the battle honour Flers-Courcelette.

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High Wood Battle map (Wikipedia source)

Reginald Ennor was 27, an apprentice to a builder in 1911 and the son of architect John Ennor Jnr and Maria Ennor of 61 Lower Rd., Newquay. He died of wounds in the Military Hospital, Leeds on 10 October 2016.

His medal record roll suggests his service in France was from 16 June to 18 September 1916 including the High Wood attack as part of the Somme battles.  He died of wounds in a Leeds hospital back in Britain on 10 October 2016, hence his burial in the Uk, in  his home town amongst friends and family.

UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War SDGW, 1914-1919 lists Reginald as:

Reginald Charles Ennor
Birth Place: Newquay
Residence: Newquay
Death Date: 10 Oct 1916
Enlistment Place: Newquay
Rank: Private
Regiment: London Regiment
Battalion: 7th (City of London) Battalion
Regimental Number: 6468
Type of Casualty: Died of wounds
Comments: Formerly 24601, 9th D.C.L.I.

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Sapper Joseph Hooper Ennor of the Royal Engineers

His brother, Sapper Joseph Hooper Ennor of the Royal Engineers also died on 12 Febraury 1920, having received a silver wound badge (Silver Badge Number: B 146218) from 1917 to 1919 and is buried nearby. His Discharge Unit is listed as the  Royal Engineers I.W & D and Regimental Number as  WR347183, Rank: Sapper, the equivalent to an Army Private.

In 1911 Joseph was listed as  “Clerk To surveyor Urban Council.” This same Newquay Urban District Council helped survey and build Newquay Zoo almost 60 years later.

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Joseph Hooper Ennor on findagrave.com

The Ennor Family and Newquay’s History

The Ennor family helped to build Newquay as we  see it today.

The Ennor Family http://www.newquayvoice.co.uk/news/6/article/2322/ Roger Jenkin Newquay’s Founding Families article in Newquay Voice online 3 March 2004.

‘Mr J. Ennor Junior ‘. On the appropriate page his address is ‘Quay Road’. Architect and surveyor. He was John Ennor the Third, for the First – his grandfather – had been drowned when supervising the foundations of the South Quay for Squire Richard Lomax in 1831. His son – the next but one entry – ‘Mr J. Ennor Senior’, being John Ennor the second 1828 – 1912 – was the most prominent and prolific of his family being largely responsible for the building of old Newquay.

So many were his interests that one cannot do them full justice here. He was responsible for renewing the leases of two of the old fish cellars; he was the owner of no less than 18 local vessels; between 1877 and December 1890 he built 90 houses in the town; he had the first steam yacht in the bay; he was an original member of the Local Board and he erected the railway station buildings which were finished in 1877 and demolished circa 1990. A grandson, Hubert, built Ennors Road in the 1920s.

In a separate Roger Jenkin article it mentioned “On February 10, 1888, John Ennor completed the row of terraced houses, which stand to this day namely Trevose Place. The Rose fish cellars themselves were sited where the back gardens of those houses are.”

Both Ennor brothers are listed on Newquay’s large memorial overlooking the sea.

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The brothers Ennor on the WW1 list amongst many familiar Newquay names above Newquay’s lost WW2 fire crew from the 1941 Plymouth Blitz (Old, Vineer, Whiting) Source: http://www.89ww1heroes.blogspot.com

The 1911 England Census gives clues to the whole Ennor  family and the two brothers, just before the First World War:

Reginald Ennor

Address: 2 Harbour Terrace, Newquay
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Apprentice To Builder
Registration district: St Columb

Household Members:
John Ennor Junr 56
Maria Ennor 55
George Hubert Ennor 27
Joseph Hooper Ennor  22
Reginald Charles Ennor 20
Florie Caroline Ennor 16
Elsie Ennor 14
Mabel Louise Ennor 12
Jane Hugo 39 (servant?)

Beyond Living Memory

Even once the Living Memory project is over, we should remember these people.

So if you are in Newquay on holiday or living locally, strolling around, why not pop into one of these local cemeteries especially around Remembrance time and pay your respects to these men and women? You could also do so closer to home, if you check out the CWGC website for your nearest site.

I know when I get a spare moment I will pop up and visit Newquay New Cemetery or Crantock Street Cemetery  in remembrance.

Remembering Reginald Ennor and the other casualties of the 141 days of the Somme buried with their CWGC headstones in cemeteries across the UK.

#LivingMemory   http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/cwgc-projects/living-memory.aspx

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

 

 

Remembering D-Day 6th June 1944

June 6, 2016

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29th Lets Go! Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

6th June 1944 was an important date in World War Two, the Normandy Landings and especially poignant in our three zoos’ local areas of Cornwall, Devon and the South West Coast.

Thousands of American, British and Allied Servicemen left our local basecamps, airfields and coastal areas where they had trained for the shores of Normandy, many of them never to return.

Since 2009 we have posted several blogposts on D-Day and our sister zoo,  Paignton Zoo . Thousands of young Americans were camped over the Clennon Gorge part of Paignton Zoo ready for embarkation onto landing craft  next to our other sister zoo, Living Coasts.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/d-day-1944-and-the-disappearing-peacocks-and-ducks-of-wartime-paignton-zoo

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/please-do-not-eat-the-peacocks-when-visiting-the-zoo/

 

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D Day Embarkation Hard next to our sister zoo Living Coasts, Torquay.  

Hundreds of American servicemen perished off the coast of Slapton Sands, a battle training area, where our founder Herbert Whitley had purchased the now peaceful Slapton Ley as a field reserve.

 

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/d-day-and-a-curious-1944-matchbox-diary/

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Operation Tiger dated entries , 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Recently I spotted several other local D-Day links in Weymouth on my zoo travels:

DDay weymouth photo

 

Weymouth DDay statuethhhDDay weymouth insriptionweymouth DDay wreathsth weymouth DDay inscription

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Weymouth D-Day plaque of thanks from US troops.

As well as the Weymouth memorial, I noticed a new D-Day plaque in 2014 at Lyme Regis whilst fossil hunting there. We use the ammonites and other Jurassic Coast  fossils in dinosaur and extinction workshops at Newquay Zoo.

Falmouth about 25 miles from Newquay Zoo also has a D-Day memorial shelter as  thanks from US troops stationed across Cornwall

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Falmouth D-Day memorial shelter, near Gyllyngvase Beach / Pendennis Castle. 2016.

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Compass plaque, Falmouth D-day memorial shelter.

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D-Day remembered 6th June 1944 / 2016 across our three zoo sites and  the Southwest.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 6th June 2016.

Happy Centenary to the Inspiring Women of the W.I.

September 16, 2015

16 September 1915 is the centenary of the Women’s Institute in Britain, the anniversary of the first W.I. meeting on Anglesey in Wales.

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.

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.

Although the W.I. has its origins in Canada in 1897, the W.I. spread quickly throughout the First World War and the 1920s.

http://www.thewi.org.uk/centenary has a fabulous timeline well illustrated with photos.

In WW2 it became very important alongside the WVS / WRVS in food production, salvage and fundraising but most importantly, a supportive and friendly social network for women and their community in times of peace and war. This wartime role was most recently written up in the brilliantly titled book Jambusters.

Lady Denman who oversaw the food and farming efforts of the early W.I. throughout WW1 would go on to lead the Land Girls of the Women’s Land Army in WW2. A inspiring woman, to misquote the new W.I. Slogan.

As part of my work at Newquay Zoo (where the World War Zoo Gardens project allotment garden is based) I have been lucky enough to have visited and talked about the zoo and recently our wartime garden to many W.I. groups all over  Cornwall over the last 20 years.

lerryn WI

I still proudly have the poster from Lerryn W.I. probably using up old poster stock which declared that ‘Lerryn WI’ were hosting a talk about ‘Newquay Zoo by Mark Norris’ under which was printed ‘A Modern Voice for  Women’. I’ve been called many things in my time but this is a title or an accolade I feel I don’t rightly deserve! I still have the poster proudly in my scrapbook,  after years on my office wall, raising many a smile from passing staff.

I feel proud and privileged to have spent lots of time with the W.I., enjoyed their hospitality, drunk their tea, eaten the occasional cake or two, warily judged many competitions and listened to their many interesting life stories along with rousing renditions of ‘Jerusalem’.

Their care for each other, especially through ill health, advancing years and bereavement, have always been apparent to myself as a visitor listening in to their ‘business’ whilst setting up projectors and the like. Long may it continue …

Never to be underestimated or taken for granted, the W.I. Branches in some areas will be celebrating their 100th birthday, others have merged or quietly vanished as was the case in the one I researched in wartime recently.

On our sister blog looking at a Cornish village in wartime, helping to research its war memorial, I have been through the 1940s wartime newspapers for a flavour of jam making and inspiring, uplifting and useful talks in wartime:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/devoran-w-i-in-wartime-as-reported-in-cornish-newspapers/

Fascinating to read of the many wartime talks and fundraising efforts from just one village W.I. that  stands in for hundreds of others.

Whilst this W.I. branch may be gone but not forgotten, I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing the W.I. another happy hundred years.

Posted on behalf of the World War Zoo Gardens project

by Mark Norris, “A Modern  Voice for  Women” 🙂

Remembering Merchant Navy day 3 September from a zoo keeper’s perspective

September 3, 2015

mercahnt navy the common task punch3 September is Merchant Navy Day.

The Punch cartoon “The Common Task” chosen above  from my collection symbolises the past and future challenge of food security. Here the Dig for Victory Gardener is as important as the Merchant Navy, whose lives in convoys were at risk to bring food and other precious resources to our island and worldwide  during both World Wars.

This “Common Task” was a common theme in many gardening publications during both world wars.

"Let your shopping help our shipping" was one propaganda message about saving food - grow your own is another, promoted by a typical piece of advertising from a wartime gardening magazine (from the World War Zoo gardening collection / archive at Newquay Zoo).

“Let your shopping help our shipping” was one propaganda message about saving food – grow your own is another, promoted by a typical piece of advertising from a wartime gardening magazine (from the World War Zoo gardening collection / archive at Newquay Zoo).

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3 September has honoured the brave men and women of the UK amongst many nations who kept our island nation afloat during both World Wars. It also celebrates our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat.

london zoo infographic ww1

“A year’s food for London Zoo” infographic from an unknown magazine by W.B. Robinson 1920s/ 30s (Image Source: Mark Norris, private collection)

In wartime this involved not only human food but many of the foods that zoo animals would need, if they could not be home-grown. This is a past and future challenge we have been researching through our World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo.

This year Seafarers UK is campaigning for the Red Ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, to be flown on 3 September on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs. More than 400 Local Authorities have been asked to get involved.

I saw the Red Ensign flying outside the Truro Harbour Commissioner’s office on my travels this morning.

Like many coastal communities, many Cornish ports and harbours lost many sailors and fishermen in both world wars, with the knock-on effect on families, communities and incomes for generations.

The names of many of those lost at sea are remembered on the huge Tower Hill memorial in London which I visited last year whilst doing a talk at Kew Gardens.

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WW2 section Tower HIll memorial representing the 24,000 missing Merchant Navy sailors and fishermen (Image: mark Norris)

Statues on the  WW2 section Tower HIll memorial represent the 24,000 missing Merchant Navy sailors and fishermen “who have no grave but the sea” named on its panels. There is more about the memorial on the CWGC website.

You can see pictures of this memorial, its statues and the impact on just one Cornish creekside village that I have also been researching through the names on its war memorial:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/lost-devoran-sailors-on-the-merchant-navy-memorial-tower-hill/

Remembering the many brave men and women and their families of the Merchant Navy today, 3 September, past and present.

Remembering the British Chancellor and the bombing of Falmouth Docks 10 July 1940

July 9, 2015

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 www.falmouthartgallery.com

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

It is 5 years since we last posted on our blog about the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the British Chancellor and Falmouth Docks on 10 July 1940.

Now on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz on Britain’s towns, cities and ports, it is interesting to reread the ‘last post’ and postscript from 2010:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/postscript-to-our-price-of-oil-paint-big-ships-of-all-nations-bombing-of-the-british-chancellor-10-july-1940/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/the-price-of-oil-paint-and-big-ships-of-all-nations-from-the-ark-to-the-supertanker-german-invasions-budgets-the-world-cup-and-the-wartime-zoo-keeper’s-vegetable-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

I remember hearing David Barnicoat speak in 2010 on BBC Radio Cornwall about the 10 sailors and dock staff killed, the dramatic events at 2.30 /3.30 p.m. on an otherwise “lovely sunny day” and the marking of this anniversary on Falmouth Docks on Saturday 10th July 2010 with the sounding of the Docks siren to mark the 2010 anniversary and commemorate the loss of life and heroic rescue effort.

Read also an account of the rescue here http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fpboating/8258392.Deadly_raid_remembered/?ref=rss

Remembering the ten sailors and men  killed during this bombing, Falmouth, 10 July 1940.

Local civilians on board SS British Chancellor  or at Falmouth docks:

George Eric Bastian, aged 40

Walter Samuel Knott, 48

Charles Palin

Henry Arthur Pellow, 40

Samuel Prouse, aged 64

Leonard John Tallack

Merchant Navy crew of SS British Chancellor, mostly buried in Falmouth Cemetery:

3rd Engineering Officer John Carr, 26 (buried in Sunderland)

2nd Engineering Officer William Joseph Crocker, 36 (of Portsmouth)

Chief Engineering Officer Charles Halley Lennox, 56 (of Glasgow)

3rd Engineering Officer Philip George Lucas Samuels, 26

Further family information on CWGC.org records can be found for most of these men.

Remembered.

 

 

 

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.

Our Zoo: Chester Zoo and the drama of zoo history

September 5, 2014

I have been looking forward to watching this autumn BBC’s “Our Zoo” about the  early days of Chester Zoo, with some excellent links to past and future on the Chester Zoo website –
http://www.chesterzoo.org/global/about-us/our-zoo-bbc-drama

Researching zoo history is often a “Cinderella” subject, many people wondering why it’s worth it (outside of the zoo history enthusiasts of the Bartlett Society – see blogroll links) and rarely makes it to mainstream television!

Back in May 2011 I spent an interesting couple of days tracking down wartime concrete at Chester Zoo, during a zoo history conference. Here is an edited blog post I wrote at the time tracing an intriguing bit of Chester Zoo’s history and on the way discovered four wartime hippos in Budapest.

Mr. Mottershead, founder of Chester Zoo – memorial plaque near Oakfield House, Chester Zoo (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

May 2011, Chester Zoo: We weren’t sure whether to called this post Zoo Do You Think You Are? (after the BBC TV Family history series), thanks to a quick quip from Richard Gibson at Chester Zoo or maybe  Zoo Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler? (to the theme tune of Dad’s Army) in view of the wartime concrete, Home Guard and Zoo family history connections I was tracking down.

Family history is big business now on the internet and on television, genealogy being the social or leisure side of genetics. Genetics is now the everyday business of zoo breeding programmes. Looking back at baby photos past for a glimpse of a familiar adult expression or looking at your children for a fleeting recognition of family faces, it’s something we all do over time. Like gardening, it’s probably age-related, primal and territorial. My family, my birth place, my tribe. So why should it be any different for zoos to look back at where they came from? Can we catch a glimpse of the future from a look at their past? This is partly what I’ve been researching through the World War Zoo Gardens project.

Chester Zoo history symposium 20 May 2011 from the SHNH website

What are zoos for? How should zoos work together? Why should zoos keep an archive of past events and what should they do with this material? These were some of the many questions raised by the May 2011 Symposium on Zoo history / Zoo future hosted at Chester Zoo “From Royal Menageries to Biodiversity Conservation”http://www.chesterzoo.org/ and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Zoo and  a joint celebration of the work of several societies together. The Bartlett Society (www.zoohistory.co.uk), World Association of Zoos and Aquariums   (WAZA) www.waza.org , Linnaean Society and celebrating its 75th birthday, the Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) www.shnh.org The proceedings or symposium was recently published in 2014. It reflected the World of Zoos and Aquariums as it was attended by delegates from Britain, Ireland, Europe, North America and South East Asia / Australasia.

Only 91 animals remained amongst the ruins of wartime Berlin Zoo by 1945 from an old German / US archive press photo (World War Zoo gardens collection at Newquay Zoo)

Dr. Miklos Persenyi, Director General at Budapest Zoo in Hungary showed some beautiful slides of how the once war ravaged zoo in Hungary has been restored, even the 1960s buildings are being ‘restored’ to match the striking Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture of the early 20th Century. Miklos joked that he is employed by the Budapest Tourist Bureau, as the zoo, botanic garden and ‘cultural centre’ that it has become looks well worth a visit. After my short presentation on wartime zoos which mentioned Berlin Zoo being left with 91 animals after air raids and street fighting, Miklos quietly capped this with his story of the 15 animals left alive at Budapest zoo after the freezing winter months of 1944 when the Zoo and city of Budapest became a besieged town and battlefield between the Germans and the Russians. Amazingly, whilst the local people eat anything they could to survive, four or five of these surviving animals were Hippopotami (or Hippopotamuses). These plant eaters survived in the warm waters of the thermal springs there, alongside a handful of ‘singing birds’. The people of Budapest rebuilt their zoo after the war, whilst bombsites of local buildings and churches near the zoo were unofficially commandeered to grow crops for people and animals  http://www.zoobudapest.com/english Miklos has been involved in the writing of an interesting and beautifully illustrated history of Budapest Zoo, with a version in English well worth tracking down.

This comment by Miklos about the last fifteen animals left in Budapest Zoo and the efforts to rebuild it by gave some important human detail to the broad sweep of zoo history, of different groups and associations which eventually became the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) in a reunified Europe after the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism / end of the Cold War c. 1989  Equally moving was the long slow progression to today’s World Association of Zoos and Aquariums from its late Victorian beginning in Germany, through wartime disruptions, revolutions  to today’s worldwide organisation “United for Conservation” at last! It was long time coming.

One of the Symposium concerns was the lack of original zoo history research being done into the past life of zoos, as often what we read is simply a regurgitation of the same old sources. The published proceedings (available through Chester Zoo’s marketing department) are a good example of this new research.

Newquay Zoo’s wartime roaming ‘gnome gaurd-ener’ in front of some original wartime concrete pillars with a historic past, Chester Zoo May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Chester Zoo the conference host is home itself to an interesting wartime story. As part of my World War Zoo gardens project at Newquay Zoo, I have been researching what happened in wartime zoos, with an eye to what lessons we can learn from surviving our wartime past for the management of zoos through future challenges. This work is often hamstrung by the lack of (accessible) archives in many zoos. Not so Chester Zoo which has an excellent and accessible archive, partly scanned and the Chester Zoo News (1930s-1980s) available to buy on CD-Rom from their library!

These magazines must have refreshed memories and dates with lots of detail in June Mottershead’s vividly remembered account Reared in Chester Zoo (written with Janice Madden, Ark Books, 2009) of growing up at Chester Zoo, helping out as it was built by her father and as it struggled to survived through the slump and wartime shortages of the 1930s and 1940s to her marriage to Keeper Fred Williams.

Chester Zoo history timeline banners, Chester Zoo, 2011

This story of George Mottershead and family is well told in banner panels for each decade of the zoo’s 80 years, over near the ‘new’ 1950s Aquarium and the modern Cedar House which houses the library and archive.

My guide for that day in 2011, the then Head of Discovery and Learning archivist Stephen McKeown told me that the concrete pillars of the aquarium were hand-cast by June and Fred, often working into the night by lamplight. So like George Mottershead, they literally did build their zoo by hand. Sadly the original Chester Zoo Aquarist, Yorkshireman Peter Falwasser died of wounds on active service in North Africa, 1942. Before his death, Peter wrote excitedly to Chester Zoo colleagues of all the wildlife and especially fish he was seeing in the Middle East and wondered how to get them back to Chester Zoo. So this new aquarium  in the 1950s was maybe a quiet sort of memorial to ‘gentle’ Peter Falwasser, as June describes him.

In 2013 I received scans from the Chester Zoo archive of letters from and to Peter Falwassser, which I turned into the following blog post, Last Wartime Letters:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/last-wartime-letters-of-peter-falwasser-chester-zoo-aquarist-1916-1942/

Sometimes research does a little back-flip of name recognition in an unexpected place, a little cross-over between themes. Strangely following another wartime gardening lead into 1940s and 50s garden  books linked to Theo Stephens’ little garden magazine, My Garden, I havecome across  a late 1940s garden article that may well have been written by Peter’s older sister Christine Rosetta ( b. 1905, Cawthorne, Yorkshire). She may have been the  C.R. Falwasser, a gardener and writer,  who wrote the article in My Garden’s Bedside Book (1951?)  called “I Swept the Leaves” mentioning “But when you hire yourself during wartime and become part of a staff …” by the 1950s she pops up in the phone book in horticulture at Alltnacree, Connell, Argyll.  Strange coincidence.  I wonder if she would have got on with the Mottershead family of Market Gardeners, including Grandad Albert, Chester Zoo’s first Head Gardener, who fed the animals and people of Chester Zoo in wartime.

Inside June’s Pavilion, Chester Zoo May 2011

A quick trip downstairs to the public toilets in Oakfield House today takes you to the site of the ‘old’ or first wartime Aquarium and air raid shelters for staff,  based in the cellars and former kitchens of Oakfield House. This listed red brick building was the big house or mansion of the estate that became Chester Zoo in the 1930s. It was in poor condition after serving as a VAD convalescent home for officers in the First World War as many such houses did around Europe. This must have had strong associations for Private George Mottershead, who  apparently spent several years recovering after the war in a wheelchair.

Looking at the 1930s map by George Williams inside June’s book, it is still possible to glimpse a little of the original zoo, especially starting from the red brick house and stables block, used extensively for temporary animal houses in the first decade or so. Lion scratches and a small plaque by the stables archway give a clue to what once happened here, the nucleus of what has today grown to become Chester Zoo.

The roar of big cats can still be heard across the path from the old temporary ‘pen’, the site of George Mottershead’s lion enclosure that he started to hand-build in 1937 but was delayed by wartime, only finished in 1947. Scratch marks in the brickwork of the stable block, reputedly made by lions, are marked by a simple plaque.

A link to the Chester Zoo lions of the wartime past – within roar of the present. Chester Zoo Stables and Courtyard gateway, May 2011

The stables and courtyard of the big house of another era are closed to the public but very visible from public walkways, the stables now house the works depot and offices.

History in the Chester area is never far away – usually just inches under your feet. The Romans had a garrison town (Deva) here, into whose near-complete buried amphitheatre in town were dug the air-raid shelters for June’s school. Behind Oakfield House, recreated Roman Gardens and new glasshouses now lie where food was once grown in the kitchen gardens and conservatory area by June’s  ‘ Grandfather’ Albert, George Mottershead’s father.

This glasshouse like those in many zoos was a victim of wartime shrapnel, in this case probably anti-aircraft or ack-ack ‘flak’ from nearby AA guns firing at enemy raiders heading for the towns and ports of the Northwest. Friendly fire like this also killed a Coypu, one of the only direct wartime casualties amongst the animals from enemy action (many other zoo animals like penguins slowly declined from wartime substitute feeding). Here in these vanished glasshouses and kitchen gardens, food was once grown for the mansion and for the early zoo. The Mottersheads were nurserymen and market gardeners, originally in the Sale area. ‘Grandad’ Mottershead working well into old age and through wartime to provide food for his son’s zoo animals.

Three of June’s Mottershead uncles and step-uncles from this gardening family were killed in the First World War, two others on her mother’s side, whilst her father George was so badly wounded on the Somme that it took him years to teach himself to walk again. Albert and Stanley Mottershead’s  names are on the Sale War Memorial, recently researched by George Cogswell and pictured here. This could so easily have been George Mottershead. no George, no Chester Zoo.

George Mottershead in uniform with wife Elizabeth, World War One, one of mnay family photos in the new June’s Pavilion, Chester Zoo

Family photographs of these friendly ghosts can be found in June’s book but also mounted on the walls of the newly opened June’s Pavilion catering area near Oakfield House, next to the Growzone conservatories for today’s Chester Zoo gardeners. Zoos, like armies, march on their stomachs and good food is very important to the human and other animals at the zoo. It is often the make or break of a zoo visit and probably one of the harder things to get right for everyone. I learnt this lesson on day one of zoo management at Newquay Zoo, the afternoon spent with sleeves rolled up and rubber gloves in the sink partly alongside Pete the Ops Manager washing up and KP-ing in the Newquay Zoo café during an afternoon rush and shortage of café staff. So I understand how important June, her sister Muriel, her mother Elizabeth and Grandmother Lucy like all the women in her family were in feeding zoo staff, evacuees and zoo visitors as well as zoo animals before and during the war. [Note: 2014, This is something that comes across strongly in the BBC series Our Zoo broadcast in Autumn 2014 and I interviews with June Williams.]

It is very fitting to have ‘June’s Pavilion’ as not a museum or a memorial but something practical, and fun – a family eating place with family photographs on the wall. George Mottershead in First World war uniform with Elizabeth and baby Muriel, Grandad Mottershead, June and Fred, all look down, alongside many other of the army of Chester Zoo staff of the past, over another generation of zoo visitors tucking in to food before heading off to look and learn about more animals.

Having read June’s account in hindsight and the detailed newsletters month by month during uncertain times gives you chance to relive the early years, month by month, almost to glimpse through the windows of Oakfield House and spot familiar ghosts on the lawn.

Next to Oakfield House beside the lawn in its own small garden stands a small simple memorial plaque to George Mottershead, erected by the zoo members and staff after he died in 1978. George looks out of the photo back towards the stables and the windows of Oakfield House which must have seen so many stories, from the gentry and hunting at the big house to wounded soldiers of his own war, wartime evacuees in the next war, refugee elephants and their mahouts, a place of family weddings and still a venue for an excellent quiet lunch in the panelled dining room.

After the war, things did not become easier straight away. There was still food rationing and materials for building were in short supply.

Round the back of the Europe on the Edge aviary, once the 1940s polar bear enclosure can be seen wartime surplus concrete tank traps built into pillars, a clever bit of wartime / austerity salvage, Chester Zoo, May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Britain had to feed itself, the displaced millions of Europeand repair huge numbers of bombed factories, schools and houses around the country. A short walk away from Oakfield House, you can still glimpse one of George’s practical bits of post-war salvage. Fred Williams, June’s husband, as Clerk of Works carried on this salvage tradition.

At the rear of what was once built as the Polar Bear enclosure can be seen some at first rather plain and ugly concrete pillars. Ironically now part of the Europe on the Edge Aviary, these pillars started life for a very different purpose – heavy concrete road blocks and tank traps from the desperate days of improvisation by the Army and Home Guard against invasion by the armies of Hitler’s Germany after softening up by Goering’s eagles of the Luftwaffe.

The round shapes of these concrete blocks can be seen clearly in Frith picture postcards featured in a recent zoo postcards book by  Alan Ashby (www.izes.co.uk). These pillars  are an unlikely memorial to a past generation, though thankfully June is still (2011/2014very much with us, still interested in the zoo they built and the recently opened June’s new Pavilion.

Stephen McKeown spoke in 2011 about further ideas for developing family history on the way to our Chester Zoo members talk at the Russell Allen lecture theatre at Chester zoo (named after Maud Russell Allen, an early council member or benefactor in the 1930s and 1940s). Chester are thinking about developing the guided or self-guided history tour – so watch the Chester Zoo website for details [including on the Our Zoo BBC related events].

BBC clip about June at wartime Chester Zoo: http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6700000/newsid_6706300/6706315.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm&news=1&bbcws=1

Since 2011, I have been sent by Chester Zoo Archive  the scans of many letters to and from George Mottershead to (the late) ex Cheter Zoo staff member Peter Lowe, who became the first curator and designer of my home zoo, Newquay Zoo, something worth a blog post in future. So George Mottershead surviving the Somme to open his own zoo helped indirectly in the early history of my own zoo at Newquay Zoo.  You can read more about our wartime garden project at Newquay Zoo on our blog, contact me via the comments page or check out our zoo website pages about World War Zoo on www.newquayzoo.org.uk

The new World War Zoo gardens sign at Newquay Zoo, 2011

Trengwainton’s Wartime Garden Project, Cornwall

May 2, 2014

I was really pleased to finally make it to Trengwainton Gardens at Penzance in Cornwall to see their wartime garden project this week. I was scouting out locations for our possible World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden display at Trengwainton’s 1940s wartime garden weekend “Hoorah for the Home Front” on Sunday 11th May 2014.

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton's wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton’s wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I came across this project several years ago when I was researching our own Wartime garden at Newquay Zoo and exchanged 1940s plant variety notes with one of the Project consultants, Paul Bonnington.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton have recreated an Anderson shelter, something I wanted to do in the first plans for the Newquay Zoo version of a wartime allotment in 2009. Many months later trawling eBay for original ‘heritage rust’ available from as little as 99p (if you travel to the other side of the country to dig up and dismantle it for the owners), I decided against the idea.
Instead I sent Paul the shelter plans and dimensions from original 1940s ARP publications and woodworking magazines. Trengwainton have recreated one in full shiny glory, not yet covered in a protective and productive coating of soil and produce. People at the time were worried that the shiny metal would be too easily visible from the air, hence the edible camouflage that soon appeared on top.

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014
Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

In several Land Girl autobiographies and histories (such as the oral history account produced by the Penzance / West Cornwall based Hypatia Trust) Trengwainton is mentioned. Land Girls from all over Britain trained, lived and worked at gardens like Trengwainton.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Propaganda posters of WLA Land Girls aside, the less glamorous side of wartime gardening has been ‘recreated’ in this working garden such as compost heaps. Just as we use produce from the Newquay Zoo version to feed our animals (and occasionally in the cafe), Trengwainton uses produce from its several sections of walled gardens (built apparently, no one knows why, to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark) in its tearooms.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

I look forward to joining the events and gardens team there and other re-enactors from the Southwest WW2 reenactment society in celebrating “the spirit and ingenuity” of the 1940s on the 11th May 2014, with a small display of our wartime garden materials that we use with schools (see previous blog post). You can find out more about the Trengwainton garden and events: Www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trengwainton-garden  There are photos of past 40s weekends there in local news coverage. 

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Our Wartime garden project co-opts Newquay Zoo’s free-ranging chickens as and when required for displays. Trengwainton has built coops in the orchard for several beautiful Buff Orpington hens and chicks, a great sound effect background noise to the garden project.

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

 

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Trengwainton's orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton’s orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

 

Unusual 'aeroplane' weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Unusual ‘aeroplane’ weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton's history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton’s history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Another clever idea (similar to something I am working on at Newquay Zoo) is their display potting shed, full of period items.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project,  Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Rose hips were (after research into their Vitamin C content at Kew) gathered as a source of Vitamin C during wartime, often by WIs and schoolchildren keen to make some pocket money.

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

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

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I hope you enjoy these glimpses of Trengwainton’s Wartime garden project and get the chance to visit.

I might even meet some of you at their 1940s event on Sunday the 11th May 2014 which we hope to attend with our display; if I get the chance to photograph the event, I’ll post some further pictures here.

Pedople asked for views of the walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton so here are a few more shots:

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

 

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Posted by: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall. Contact via http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk

Happy 2nd birthday World War Zoo gardens

August 31, 2011

 Happy birthday to carrots, and cabbages and rhubarb chard …

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

Today we mark the second anniversary of our wartime zoo keepers garden at Newquay Zoo.  It was officially launched on the weekend of 31st August 2009 to link with the 7oth anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.

We’ve just reached overnight 20,001 visits on this blog (some of whom were wondering why on earth a wartime garden in a zoo in Cornwall came up on their search engine!) We know many people have enjoyed reading this because of the comments we get through the blog comments and our Newquay Zoo website.

You could of course trace back through two years of blog posts archived on this site to see what we have done. Or maybe a few photographs would do the job.

Digging up the Lion House lawns , July 2009: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

From this bare patch of lawn in Summer 2009, through winter snow in 2009 and 2010, to bigger space in Summer 2011.

Armistice day in the Wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, November 2010

The wartime garden under snow at Newquay Zoo, winter December 2010

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011New fencing and enlarged space, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the past two busy years we have:
1. grown lots of useful unsprayed / organic veg, herbs and fruit for some of our very rare animals (and occasionally our visitors through the zoo’s Cafe Lemur). Visitors tell me how nice the strawberries are that they have sneaked out through the fences!
 
2. researched the family history stories of many of the lost generation of zoo staff killed in the first and second world war in British zoos (see the November 2010 blog posts) and this work continues …
 
3. made a podcast about vegetables (see our Newquay Zoo website)  http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/news/world-war-zoo.htm and set up a Facebook page for our World War Zoo vegetables, until Facebook realised that veg aren’t ‘real’ people and closed it down! 🙂
 
4. had our roving gnome gaurd-ener vanish from the zoo and send postacrds gn-home from zoos across Britain and Spain.  He came back several months later in May 2011
 
5. visited garden centres, open gardens, garden societies, Women’s Institutes, Zoo history conferences at Chester Zoo and others to talk about the project and display our growing collection of wartime objects. 
 
6. launched schools workshops using our image and object collection on how zoos and ordinary people survived the challenges of World War Two http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/education/world-war-zoo-1.htm
 
7. publihsed several articles about zoos and their staff in wartime in magazines
 
8. had thousands of people do our wartime zoo trail around Newquay Zoo
 
9. Linked up with the Imperial War Musuem’s exhibitions on  rationing in 2010 (they now have a brilliant exhibition for 2011 on classic wartime stories for children) and with the BBC’s digital online museum for their  History of the World in 100 objects . See blogroll right for links  
 
10. Met lots of like minded people and wartime gardening enthusiasts  through the RHS, Garden Organic and other forums, along with the new Victory garden project at National Trust Trengwainton Gardens. They’re opening their allotments up forOpen Heritage Day on Saturday 10th September 2011 if you want to pop along to Penzance and see  for free!  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/heritageopendays
 
So what next for 2011/12 …
 
a. We’re off to go and plant cabbages (to match the carrots and catch crop lettuce, leaf salad etc which are already sprouting) for early Spring crops;
 
b. We’re working on an article on zoos in wartime for Britain at War magazine, along with some gardening articles for magazines for 2012;
 
c. We’ve got lots to do on the wartime zoo and botanic gardens book. Our research and talks have taken us to Birmingham and Chester, we have London and Paignton  zoo archives to visit next;
 
d. We continue to work editing several  home front diaries from around the UK for general readers and schools use  to be published 2012;
 
E. We want to be more involved in the Growing Schools Gardens network  in 2012;
 
f.  We’re planning in time for Armistice / Remembrance Sunday 2011 dedicating a  memorial stone for the front of the garden , itself a peaceful memorial to zoo staff and animals of all nationalities affected by war since 1914.
 
g. We’re off to talk about the World War Zoo gardens project to other British and Irish zoos at the national BIAZA ACE meeting at Twycross Zoo  in November 2011. We’d like lots of other zoos to unearth and use their history but also unturf their lawns and plant veg for their animals. We’ve got our garden up for a BIAZA planting and landscape display award for the first time, so fingers crossed for this recognition.  
 
But best of all are the informal ‘over the garden fence’ chats  about the animals, growing their food and the successes and failures of  our garden plot that we’ve had with hundreds of zoo visitors of all ages and garden sizes from young families growing veg at home, children growing at school in the gardens, to former Land Army girls who are still gardening in their eighties and nineties … and the occasional group of visiting naturists (that’s nudists, not naturalists, and that’s another story!)
 
And we’ll keep on blogging and Twittering, chatting over the virtual garden fence … 
 
We’ll post here when our new Website section / Facebook site is up and running. Even vegetables can have friends on Facebook … 
 
So Happy Birthday to us ! And Happy gardening and happy reading to you, and we look forward to you one day visiting in person our wandering gnomes, wondrous cabbages and seemingly ever hungry zoo animals of our World War Zoo gardens project at Newquay Zoo …
 
Keep in touch via our comments page.
 
 

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.


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