Archive for the ‘London Zoo’ Category

Flattened by a flying bomb: Overseer Walter Leney at ZSL London Zoo 25 November 1944

November 27, 2019

We have just passed the 75th anniversary of 25 November 1944, a sad event for the staff of London Zoo.

Walter Leney’s name appears on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial, killed at home by a Flying Bomb in WW2 whilst still employed working for London Zoo.

Overseer William Walter Thomas Leney and his wife Kate were both killed by a V1 flying bomb which fell on their house at Regent’s Park, very near the Zoo where Leney had worked his way up from the lowest rank of Keeper in 1901 to Overseer by 1944.

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Walter Leney’s staff card (ZSL Archives)

Using information from his staff record card in the ZSL archive, we can see how Leney (b.19.10.1879) started life as a Helper on 12 February 1901, promoted to Junior Keeper by 1917, then Senior Keeper by Jan 15 1917.

By this time many of his keeper colleagues who had enlisted had already been killed.

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He entered Army service on September 17 1917 and was demobbed early in June 1918, wounded.

Despite his injuries, Leney had been made a 2nd Class Keeper by 1923, 1st Class Keeper by  1924 and became Acting Overseer by 1927, full Overseer by 1929 in charge of the Small Mammal House. This was the role he held for the next 15 years of his working life to his potential retirement age of 65.

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On the back of his record cards (which chart pay rates and war bonusses) are his addresses – like many keepers living close to the zoo, Princess Road, 116 Gloucester Regent’s Park, then from 1928 onwards King Henry’s  Road, Hampstead NW3.

This was the address where the V1 fell; the CWGC records for him and his wife Kate Jane list him as “of 59 King Henry’s Road. Husband of Kate Jane Leney. Died at 59 King Henry’s Road.”

There are CWGC records as Civilian dead for W. W. T. Leney and wife,%20WALTER%20WILLIAM%20THOMAS,%20KATE%20JANE

Other Zoos like Maidstone Zoo (now closed) were in ‘Bomb Alley’,  the South of England corridor or route followed by many of the Flying Bombs.  Chessington Zoo was unlucky enough to be both bombed during the 1940 Blitz and also hit by a Flying Bomb V1 in 1944 (Newsreel footage here)

London Zoo’s Walter Leney and his wife Kate Leney, remembered 75 years on.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 25  November 2019 




Richard Bartlett WW1 casualty of the famous London Zoo family 23 October 1914

September 2, 2019

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Having no known grave, Richard Bartlett’s name should be up on the walls of this Menin Gate Ypres memorial, home to the last post each evening. Image: CWGC 

Lance Serjeant Richard Bartlett 10029, died in action on 23 October 1914 aged 28, serving with the 1st Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment . He has no known grave and is remembered on Addenda Panel 57 of the Ypres  (Menin Gate ) Memorial.

CWGC lists him as the “Son of the late Clarence Bartlett, of Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, London“.

The war affected not only the staff of London Zoo who joined up (as we have covered in previous London Zoo WW1 blog posts) but also the sons,  grandsons and wider families of zoo staff.

The Bartlett Society was set up by Clinton Keeling to link people with an interest in zoo history together. It is named after Richard Bartlett’s grandfather, Abraham Dee Bartlett,  the great nineteenth-century superintendent of the Zoological Society of London’s gardens at Regent’s Park – a post which Abraham held from 1859 until his death in 1897 at the age of eighty-four.

70 years later  on from Richard’s death, The Bartlett Society, named in honour of Abraham Dee Bartlett, was founded by the late C. H. Keeling on 27th October 1984. It is devoted to promoting the study of zoo history or ‘yesterday’s methods of keeping wild animals’.

Hopefully the following Bartlett family history is correct – I’m sure the Bartlett Society members will correct me if I’m wrong. 

In between a strange career as a publican, Abraham’s son Clarence also lived at the London Zoo or zoological gardens as its deputy superintendent and briefly superintendent on his father’s death.

Born in St. Pancras in  1887, his son Richard enlisted in Preston, which is probably why he enlisted in a Lancashire regiment. Richard is listed with his Lancashire Regiment in the 1911 census at the Bhurtpore Military Barracks, Bhurtpore Barracks, South Tedworth, Hants.

As a result of his prewar soldiering, Richard was able to get overseas quickly in the few weeks after war was declared, whilst many others were still enlisting in recruiting offices.

Richard appears to have been by trade a butcher when he enlisted, a slightly different animal-related career than his famous grandfather. His effects and will went to his brother Joseph.

By reading regimental diaries and histories, we get a glimpse of Richard Bartlett’s war and how he died.

The 1st Battalion were part of the BEF (2nd Brigade in 1st Division) and landed in France on 13th August 1914. The 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment sailed to France on the newly built S.S Agapenor on 12 August 1914.

They embarked at Southampton, but having started to cross over they ran into another ship on the Solent, giving her ‘a nasty bash’. One man was injured. That night they continued their crossing to La Havre.

The Battalion originally comprised regular pre-war soldiers. They were the only LNL battalion at Mons, and subsequently were part of the ‘Great Retreat’. They were present at; Marne, Aisne, Ypres, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Aubers, Loos …  The 1st were the only LNL battalion to qualify for the 1914 Star, the majority of recipients also being awarded the clasp ‘5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914’ for being under-fire at Mons.

On the excellent Loyal Regiment website, there is a diary of a Private in Richard’s battalion: it mentions the day that Bartlett died during


“Thus ended the Langemarck engagement so far as we were concerned. On October 26th, 1914, General Headquarters issued the report, a copy of which appeared in the current account of The Times of November 17th, 1914, as follows:”

26TH OCTOBER, 1914

In the action of the 23rd of October, 1914, the 2nd Infantry Brigade
(less the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment left at Boesinghe) was allotted the task of reinforcing the 1st Infantry Brigade and retaking the trenches along the Bipschoote-Langemarck Road, which had been occupied by the enemy.

In spite of the stubborn resistance offered by the German troops, the object of the engagement was accomplished, but not without many casualties in the Brigade.

By nightfall the trenches previously captured by the Germans had been
reoccupied, about 500 prisoners captured, and fully 1,500 German dead were lying out in front of our trenches.

The Brigadier-General congratulates the 1st Loyal North Lancashire
Regiment, Northampton Regiment, and the 2nd K.R.R.C. (King’s Royal Rifle Corps), but desires specially to commend the fine soldier-like spirit of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which, advancing steadily under heavy shell and rifle fire, and aided by machine-guns, was enabled to form up within a comparatively short distance of the enemy’s trenches.

Fixing bayonets, the battalion then charged, carried the trenches, and occupied them; and to them must be allotted the majority of the prisoners captured.

The Brigadier-General congratulates himself on having in his Brigade a battalion which, after marching the whole of the previous night without food or rest, was able to maintain its splendid record in the past by the determination and self-sacrifice displayed in this action.

The Brigadier-General has received special telegrams of congratulations from both the G.O.C.-in-Chief, 1st Corps, and the G.O.C., 1st Division, and he hopes that in the next engagement in which the Brigade takes part the high reputation which the Brigade already holds may be further added to. Signed B. PAKENHAM, CAPTAIN, Brigade Major 2nd Infantry Brigade.

The area is also covered on

Remembering Richard Bartlett, grandson of Abraham Bartlett, one of those “many casualties in the Brigade” on that day.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, September 2019

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Pilotless Planes 15 June 1944

June 14, 2019

1944 diary

The last section of my D-Day 1944 and zoos blogpost mentioned Vera Richardson’s 1944 Wimbledon Diary:

Diary of Vera Richardson, a late 30s South London woman involved in Civil Defence, 1944 – D-Day, Tuesday 6 June 1944 “D-Day Invasion started. Troops landed at Cherbourg. Went to Clapham & Brixton and to Oberon …”
Note also Vera’s entry for Thursday 15 June 1944: “Germany started sending pilot-less planes” – the first mention in the diary of V1 “doodlebugs”. Vera’s unpublished diary is in my WW2 Home Front Diaries Collection wartime life collection.

The euphoria over the successful Normandy Invasion of June 6th 1944 was quickly dampened by the arrival of V1 flying bombs, doodlebugs or as they were first announced “Pilotless Planes”. Over the next few months Vera notes the damage done by these revenge or vengeance weapons to her home, local church  and her area of Wimbledon in London.

Earlier in February this year I mentioned the 75th anniversary of the  Little Blitz of February 1944:

I shall feature more of the Wimbledon V1 Flying Bomb entries from Vera Richardson’s 1944 Diary over the next few weeks.

Flying Bombs and Zoos

Several zoos were in the south coast and southeast firing line – Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake’s Maidstone Zoo, R.S. Goddard’s Chessington Zoo and Circus (although part of the animal collection was safely evacuated to Paignton Zoo in Devon in 1940) and London Zoo.

Chessington Zoo 1944

You can see Chessington zoo and circus staff clearing up the aftermath of a 1944 flying bomb attack on YouTube

Derek Witney, ex Chessington Zoo staff, thinks he may be in the film as a young lad cleaning up with the other zoo staff and circus performers. The V1 attacks on Chessington Zoo are mentioned in Frank Foster’s Chessington Circus memoir Pink Coat, Spangles and Sawdust:


London Zoo 1944

Thankfully London Zoo was not directly hit by V1 flying bombs but one of their older keeping staff Overseer Walter William Leney (W.W.T. Leney), a 64 year old WW1 veteran, was killed on 25 November  1944 at his Regent’s Park home near London Zoo with his wife.  
London Zoo would also be affected by V1 and V2 bombing, including London Zoo veteran staff member Overseer W.W. T. Leney being killed in 1944 by a flying bomb at home. Nowhere in London or the Southeast was safe, night or day, at work or at home during the flying bomb raids. We shall mark the occasion 75 years on 25th November 1944 / 2019 with a fuller blogpost on Walter Leney.

The ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial:
Leney, William Walter Thomas, ZSL Overseer: Killed by flying bomb 25.11.1944
ZSL London Zoo veteran Keeper and Overseer William Leney at 65, old enough to have served in the First World war, was killed alongside his wife Kate Jane Leney (also 65) at 59 King Henry’s Road (Hampstead, Metropolitan Borough) by flying bomb. W.W.T. Leney and wife died on 25 November 1944. Several flying bombs are recorded as having fallen around the London Zoo area, close neighbour of RAF Regent’s Park

Walter Leney is recorded on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial.

I understand a little of the dread of flying bombs as I grew up in southeast areas ravaged by flying bombs, including a crater in the woods at the back of my childhood  house, a V1 attack also seen in the blast pattern of replaced tiles in roofs along our street still visible 40 years later. My late Dad’s South London  home was almost destroyed as a child by a V1 which clipped a factory chimney and fell to earth in a different direction.

The  V1 Flying Bomb  menace – Remembered by ordinary people 75 years on.

.Blog posted on 14 June 2019 by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.


Remembering Charles Dare ZSL London Zoo died WW1 10 September 1918

September 10, 2018



Charles Dare is remembered on the ZSL Staff War memorial at London Zoo. 

10.9.1918        Charles William Dare    County of London Regt             ZSL  Helper,
originally enlisted as 2965 or 610564  19th London Regiment, he served also as Private 245116,  2nd (City of London) Battalion  (Royal Fusiliers).

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Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

He  was killed on active service,  aged 20 and is listed on the  Vis-en-Artois memorial, one of 9580 killed in this area in the “Advance to Victory”  having no known grave.

c w dare medal card ww1

Charles had been in France with the London Regiment since June 1917. On this medal roll entry and elsewhere he is Presumed Dead or D.P. on 10th September 1918, presumably because his body was never found. This is why he is remembered on the Vis En Artois Memorial, rather than having an individual grave or headstone.

c w dare medal roll entry ww1
Charles Dare was killed during period of the 100 days of the  “Advance to Victory”  (August to November / Armistice  1918).

August 8th marked the beginning of the Battle of Amiens was known as the ‘Black Day’ of the German Army; on the 15th, British troops crossed the Ancre river and on the 30th, the Somme river.

Advances carried on throughout September 1918, when Charles Dare was killed. The Armistice came two months after Charles Dare’s  death on the 11th November 1918.

Family background
Charles Dare was born and lived in St. Pancras in  1898 and enlisted in Camden Town.

He had an older sister, Lilian E Dare, two years older, also born in St. Pancras.

His father Charles J Dare was a distiller’s clerk from Hereford, aged 38 in 1901 living at 16 Eton Street, St. Pancras parish / borough (London 1901 census RG 13/133). they stilllived there in 1911, not that far from Regents Park and the Zoo. His mother Mary A Dare, 37,  was born in Lugwardine,  Hereford.
A Helper in ZSL staff terms is a junior or trainee member of staff before they become a Junior then Senior Keeper.

cw dare register ww1


Charles Dare married an Emily Catherine Holloway (1897-1944) of Kentish Town, early in 1918. According to the UK Register of Soldiers Effects, they had a daughter Gladys born 10th March 1918 or 1919.

Charles’ widow Emily Dare remarried an Arthur Scraggs in 1930 but was sadly killed as a civilian by enemy action (presumably an air raid casualty) during the “Baby Blitz” on London WW2 at her home 179 Grafton Road, London on 19 February 1944. 187 planes of the Luftwaffe bombed London on this day as part of Operation Steinbock. It was the heaviest bombing of the British capital since May 1941.

You can read more about the other ZSL London Zoo casualties of WW1 remembered on the ZSL Staff War Memorial here:

Remembered on the centenary of his death – Charles William Dare, ZSL Helper (Keeper), died WW1 10 September 1918.

Blog  posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 10 September 2018.

The Blitz begins 7 September 1940

September 7, 2018


ZSL 1940 p2

The Times article republished and illustrated in War Illustrated November 15th 1940

The Blitz, during which Nazi Germany bombed London and other English cities in nighttime raids, lasted from Sept. 7, 1940, to May 1941.

The raids killed around 43,000 British civilians and left widespread destruction.

ZSL London Zoo was in the firing line for the first time in over twenty years since Zeppelin airship and airplane bombing of London in WW1.

Long existing zoos such as Belle Vue (Manchester) and Bristol Zoo  had to put ARP (Air Raid Precautions) in place in 1939, along with newer 1930s zoos such as Chessington Zoo and Belfast Zoo.

ZSL 1940 p1

Some animal propaganda (ZSL chimps with tin hats) in  War Illustrated November 15th 1940

” The Zoo is in fact a microcosm of London …” 

Chessington Zoo

Chessington Zoo was bombed on 2 October 1940 and several staff family members were killed.

Lovely Chessington Zoo home movie 1940 footage, a grand day out presumably before the October 1940 bombing

LR Brightwell's wartime panda poster London Zoo 1942

LR Brightwell’s wartime panda poster for London Zoo 1942, encouraging zoo visitors and pandas to return  once the 1940/1 Blitz had quietened down. The “Off the Ration” exhibition encouraged Dig for Victory allotments like our World War Zoo Gardens but also encouraging zoo visitors  grow your own food animals (rabbits, chickens, pigs). 

Zoo Blitz Resources for Schools

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

Interesting Year 6 cross-curricular topic map for WW2 – Blitz and Battle of Britain (now defunct 2014/15 Inspire Curriculum, Cornwall)  

The 1944/45 Blitz

Later in the war (1944/45) Chessington Zoo  was hit by a Flying Bomb – as mentioned in our blog post

You can see Chessington zoo and circus staff clearing up the aftermath on YouTube 

London Zoo would also be affected by V1 and V2 bombing, including London Zoo veteran staff member Overseer W.W. T. Leney being killed in 1944 by a flying bomb at home. Nowhere in London or the Southeast was safe, night or day, at work or at home during the flying bomb raids. We shall mark the occasion 75 years on later next year on 25th November 1944 / 2019 with a fuller blogpost on Walter Leney.

The ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial:

Leney, William Walter Thomas, ZSL Overseer: Killed by flying bomb 25.11.1944

ZSL London Zoo veteran Keeper and Overseer William Leney at 65, old enough to have served in the First World war, was killed alongside his wife Kate Jane Leney (also 65) at 59 King Henry’s Road (Hampstead, Metropolitan Borough) by flying bomb. W.W.T.  Leney and wife died on 25 November 1944. Several flying bombs are recorded as having fallen around the London Zoo area, close neighbour of RAF Regent’s Park.

Studying the Blitz and Wartime Life? 

For more details about our schools wartime zoo / wartime life workshops for primary and secondary schools at Newquay Zoo, contact us via

berlin elephant front

The last elephant left at the damaged Elephant house Berlin Zoo in 1943/44 after the Allied Air raids (Image source: Mark Norris, private collection from defunct press archive0.

Similar Allied air raids on German cities and industrial targets  caused extensive damage to German zoos in city and railway areas, as personally and vividly described  in zoo Director Lutz Heck’s Berlin Zoo memoir Animals – My Adventure. This will be the subject of a future blogpost as we approach the 75th anniversary of these raids in 1943 / 2018 and 1944 / 2019.

Remembering all those affected by the Blitz and air raids, 1940 /41 and 1944/45. 

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 7th September 1940 / 2018.

100 Days and the Black Day of the German Army 8th August 1918

August 8, 2018

Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Amiens, known as the “Black Day of the German Army“. It was the  beginning of the end, the 100 Days Offensive that would see the end of trench warfare, retreat and ultimately the Armistice on November 11th 1918.

It has seemed a “long war” since we started centenary posts in August 2014 for each of the zoo or botanic gardens staff killed in WW1.

The 100 Days may seem the start of the end but several more zoo and botanic garden staff would die before November 11th.

Private Joseph Hayhurst, of Kew Gardens, 7th September 1918  

Hayhurst died serving as G/31695, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment, formerly 24251, KOSB King’s Own Scottish Borderers (Border Regiment), died 7 September 1918, aged 33. He is buried at the Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhuile, Aisne, France.

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Nova Jones, William Dexter’s granddaughter, inspects his name and that of fellow keepers like Charles Dare on the restored panels at the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial, 2014 (Image: Mark Norris) 

Charles William Dare, ZSL London Zoo, 10 September 1918

Dare was a young keeper or ZSL ‘Helper’ , London Zoo. Died serving with County of London Regiment, 245116, London Regt (Royal Fusiliers), remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial having no known grave, 10 September 1918



RBG Kew Gardens staff WW1 memorial 

Private Sidney George Comer, of Kew Gardens, 22 September 1918.

(Formerly Killerton Gardens, Devon  and Boconnoc, Cornwall.) Comer died serving with the US Machine Gun Corps and Tank Corps, US Army.

Comer died of pneumonia, presumably as part of the influenza pandemic that swept the world at the end of WW1, also killing Belle Vue Zoo’s Norman Jennison. 

Robert Service, Kew Gardens, 28th September 1918
Gunner Robert Service, 1257927, 4th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, died 28th September 1918. He is buried at Grave Reference I. D. 18, Bourlon Wood Cemetery.

Private James George Craythorne, Belle Vue Zoo, 20 October 1918

Craythorne died serving with 1/6 Manchester Regiment, killed  ironically in the fighting for Belle Vue Farm, buried at Belle Vue (Farm) Cemetery, France. One of several generations of Craythornes who worked at Belle Vue Zoo Manchester.

Captain Norman L Jennison, MC (Military Cross), Belle Vue Zoo, 30 October 1918

Jennsion died serving with 6th Manchester Regiment (Territorials), dying of flu, Italian Front, Genoa, Italy. Norman Jennison was the son of Angelo Jennison, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned and ran Belle Vue Zoo Manchester.

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Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image:

warmem2 Belle Vue today

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead.

But not quite the End …

When fighting has ceased, sadly more names are added to staff memorials from 1919 on into the mid 1920s, Dying from the Effects of War Service” as the battered Belle Vue Zoo war memorial in Gorton puts it. We will schedule a blog post on the centenary of each of these passings.


Our ribbon of poppies and more edible flowers in our World War Zoo gardens allotment, Newquay Zoo, Summer 2018. 

Our ribbon of poppies is fading and seeding itself for next year.


Our  keepers’ memorial plaque, Newquay Zoo, Autumn 2015

No doubt this collection of names from Britain and its Empire is mirrored by the names of many lost French, German, Austrian and other zoo keepers and botanic gardens staff worldwide killed or wounded in WW1. Our World War Zoo garden and its ribbon of poppies quietly and colourfully remembers  all of them, their colleagues and families.


Cabbages and Poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens, allotment, Summer 2018. 

Blog Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 8th August 1918





Zoo Visitor, 38: Mass Observation London Zoo Visitor Research 1938

July 25, 2018

Mass Obs Questions ZAM 1138

The Questions! Animal and Zoo Magazine  October 1938. Does “The Zoo” refer just to London Zoo?

Why do people visit zoos? What do people do when they visit zoos?

Zoo Visitor Research is not such a young science or marketing method, judging by this Questionnaire in Zoo and Animal Magazine,  October 1938.

The Zoo and You 1938 questionnaire was created by Tom Harrisson and team at Mass Observation, which became well known for its civilian diaries (including Housewife, 49) and surveys of Home Front opinion in Britain in World War 2.

Mass Observation was headed by anthropologist and ornithologist Tom Harrisson, who had previously written for Zoo and Animal Magazine  about animals and people in exotic countries (see postscript at end of blog).

The Mass Observation 1938 questions asked were:

  1. How often do you go to  the Zoo and what is your favourite time of year?
  2. What animals do you like best?
  3. Do you have a pre-arranged plan?
  4. Do you use the Guide or the maps provided in each House?
  5. Describe what you think you get out of a visit.
  6. Who do you go with?

Sadly only the answers of the winner with “the most interesting set of facts” appears to have been published.

mass obs answers ZAM 0139

The Half a Guinea’s worth of  Winning Answer!  Zoo and Animal Magazine, January 1939

I found most surprising the section where Miss Joseph, obviously a keen photographer, said that you  can make an “appointment  with a keeper to call back and  have an animal out.”

“The animals I like best are the ones the keepers allow me to have out of their cages.”

Somewhere in the ZSL Library Archive at London Zoo or at the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex, maybe a horde or box file of slowly browning paper question slips might still rest, full of everyday information about everyday zoo visits c. late 1938, eighty years ago.

I wonder if the information was ever used for planning or whether the outbreak of war eight months later in September 1939 got in the way.  War certainly changed the life of Tom Harrisson and the Mass Observation team and their many diarists.

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1940s Guide Map of London Zoo (note Camel House “damaged by enemy action”). You can follow Miss Joseph’s favourite route from the South Gate / Entrance c. 1938.

I wonder how a modern zoo visitor to London Zoo or my home zoo of Newquay Zoo might answer these questions today?

These days, such visitor behaviour research might still involve questionnaires, familiar from many market research projects. However it may also involve discreetly watching zoo visitor behaviour and dwell time in a certain area such as a new animal enclosure (to answer for example the thorny question “Does anyone actually read zoo animal information signs?”)

Mass Observation’s 1938 Question 3 “Do you have a pre-arranged plan?” or route of visit was an interesting question in modern terms.

Recently  an unusual research project by Michelle Gurney for Paignton Zoo / Newquay Zoo / Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust  (WWCT) Research involved satellite tagging a range of willing visitors (free cup of tea as a reward!) Afterwards it was possible to look at the GIS map plotting of how the visitors used the Paignton or Newquay Zoo area and which bits or animals were most visited, which least visited.

Amazing stuff, all very useful for looking afresh at your zoo site and visitors.

Zoo Visitor Research, at least 80 years young!

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 25 July 2018.

Postscript:  Tom Harrison, “Birds, Cannibals and I

Here is an example of one of Tom Harrisson’s early articles for Zoo and Animal Magazine, Volume 1 No, 3, August 1936:

article 836 1  article 836 ZAM 2

article 836 ZAM 3

article 836 ZAM 4




International Women’s Day March 8th – Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover

March 8, 2018

my home Cover

WLA Land Girl on front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 price 9d (Author’s collection/WWZG) Note the length of service armband.  

It were never that glamorous! A rather fluffy and idealised portrait of life for a WLA Land Girl is shown on the front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 (price 9d).

Life for the women of the Women’s Land Army was often very different, especially in winter.

Land Girls served in wartime zoos,  such as the team running the ‘Off the Ration’ Exhibition at London Zoo, set up with the Ministry of Information etc, to show householders how to look after simple food animals – pigs, rabbits, chickens.

This linked to a simple model wartime farm and garden which was established, as at Kew Gardens, to give gardening and livestock advice to members of the public and visitors.  Some Whipsnade Zoo paddocks were also ploughed up (by horse and elephant!) to be farmed for the war effort.

land army greatcoat labelThe quite small sized Land Girls woollen overcoat is quite a popular but surprisingly heavy fashion item for visiting schoolgirls to try on during our World War Zoo schools wartime workshop at Newquay Zoo


wartime clothing

Women’s Land Army greatcoat (second from right)in our original wartime clothing section.


Marking International Women’s Day March 8th and the activities of extraordinary ordinary women such as the Women’s Land Army in WW1 and WW2 with this colourful  Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 8 March 2018



7 March 1918 air raids on London

March 7, 2018

Continuing the story of the WW1 air raids on London from an unpublished diary:

7 March 1918: Air Raid at 11.20. In bed.
It looks like Edith Spencer, London clerk and one of the many women who were given working opportunities during WW1, was often back in the family home in a now demolished Manse in Watford each night.

You can read more about Edith and see her diary entries  here:

This daily commute to and from Watford may have been a clever move by Edith to avoid the London air raids  as she missed the threat of injury in the air raid undertaken by 3 ‘Giants’, large German bomber airplanes that replaced the Zeppelin airship bombers. 2 other Giants raided other coastal areas.

WW1 air raid expert Ian Castle records the activities of the night here on his excellent website:

This 7 – 8 March 1918 raid  left 23 killed, 39 injured in the St. John’s Wood and Clapham Common area. A single 1000 kilogram bomb at Maida Vale was responsible for 12 of those killed and 33 injured. Damage to property in 1914 prices was £42,655.



(Wikipedia image source)


One of those killed on 7 /8 March 2018 was an American, the first American citizen to be killed in an air raid on Britain, a lyricist called Lena Ford who wrote the words for Ivor Novello’s First World War wartime hit song “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.

An imaginative but  fact based retelling or reconstruction of the events of the 7 / 8  March 1918 raid by Julian Futter can be found here:

This area featured by Julian Futter is not that far south from Regents Park and London Zoo, so you can imagine the impact that aerial bombing, the barking of nearby Anti Aircraft guns or ‘Archies’  and searchlights would have had on some of the more sensitive animals by day or night.

Special precautions had already been put in place to counter air raid damage in the form of First Aid posts and special reinforcement or coverings for the enclosures of poisonous animals such as in the reptile house.

Remembering all those affected or involved in the air raid of 7-8 March 1918 on its 100th anniversary. 

Blogposted (scheduled post) by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 7 March 2018




6 February 2018 Centenary of British women gaining the vote

February 6, 2018



military miss PC

An irreverent comic postcard view of women’s contribution in WW1 to the war effort (Author’s collection)


The focus of the First World War centenary partnership for 1918 / 2018 is the contribution that women played in the First World War.

Their work in wartime was partly what finally made Parliament agree to give some British women (over 30) and men over 21 the vote.

Tuesday 6 February 2018 is the centenary of women being granted the vote for the first time in Britain.
The Representation of People Act 1918 was an important law because it allowed women to vote for the very first time. It also allowed all men over the age of 21 to vote too.
This act was the first to include practically all men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men and 8.4 million women.
The contribution made during World War One by men and women who didn’t have the right to even vote was an important reason for the law changing.
In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918 and women voted in the general election for the very first time on 14th December 1918 that year.
“Women over 30 years old received the vote if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency.”

Researching this in a local Cornish village a few miles away from Newquay Zoo, I noticed that the outbreak of war in 1914 saw the suspension of what was becoming a violent political nationwide campaign of ‘domestic terrorism’ (sabotage, arson, breaking windows), arrest, force-feeding and release under the Cat and Mouse Act. Kew Gardens suffered its tea room being burnt down by militant Suffragettes.

The headline grabbing WSPU publicity campaign of window breaking was dropped so that women could contribute to the war effort, filling many men’s jobs to free them up for the forces.

Women found themselves working as keepers in zoos like Miss Saunders or Evelyn Cheeseman, gardeners in botanic gardens such as Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, clerks like Edith Spencer (in our previous WW1 air raid posts) and a whole host of new jobs.

Miss Saunders working at London Zoo is pictured at


A whole host of jobs opened up from dangerous munitions work to nursing and ambulance driving. A surprisingly large number of women were killed working on the Home Front, serving overseas and by the Flu epidemic of 1918 / 1919.

Fittingly there will be a year long focus on the role women played in World War 1, culminating in some women being able to vote in the December 1918 for the first time and also be elected as MPS.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project (Newquay Zoo) on Tuesday 6 February 2018, the centenary of women being granted the vote for the first time in Britain.

Material also crossposted from the Devoran War Memorial Project Cornwall.





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