Posts Tagged ‘WAAF’

Hush -hush! Visit a Top Secret wartime radar base in Cornwall.

July 15, 2010

WAAF servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at a Chain Home Station like RAF Drytree, declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

‘WAAF’ returns to Goonhilly RAF Dry Tree …

GoonhillyEco-trail Day

25 July 2010   The Lizard NNR National Nature Reserve

Our collegues at Ntaural England have fabulous free event to attend:

“Let us bring the inhabitants and history of the heathland to life with our Eco-Trail Challenge.

Plant bingo, making your own paint brush and painting using natural inks, a bird diner and living history you will have a brilliant day of discovery and adventure around the heath and the historical Ministry of Defence Second World War buildings.”

The main WWII stuff is taking place in the Happidrome where there  will be  a storyteller doing a 15 minute piece in costume  throughout the day on the history and natural history of the site.

Atmospheric stuff, a radio receiver lit up in background and someone dressed as a WAAF or WREN, just like the ones from the photograph  and poster from our World War Zoo gardens archive on display.

There will be code cracking challenges, art, bird spotting and storytelling. The event is aimed at children and families as part of the Discovering Places Events (part of the UK countdown to the 2012 Olympics)

Wartime, gardening and outdoor events we're involved in - we've loaned an image and information from our archive of WAAFs in an underground radar station to the Discovering Places Day, Lizard NNR Goonhilly 25th July. Come and meet us as a wartime zoo garden on tour at Trelawney Garden Centre near Wadebridge in Cornwall, along with our minibeasts on 31 July and 1st August 2010.

This is also the opening of the new easy access path providing wheelchair and buggy access allowing everyone to enjoy the incredible wild heath area that characterises the Lizard Peninsula.

Suitable for families there will be something for all ages to enjoy, trail activities all accessible by wheelchairs.

Time: Sunday, 25th July, the trail will be open 11am until 3pm

Meet: Goonhilly Downs Car Park off the B3293 just after Goonhilly Earth Station when coming from Helston

Booking: No need to book just turn up, last opportunity to start trail is at 3pm. For more information contact Claire Scott Community Outreach Adviser at The Lizard NNR, Natural England 01326 240808

Free parking and toilets available (including disabled). This event is free!


There’s a beautiful leaflet about  the history and natural history of the site featuring our photo too. Having worked in the Lizard area, I’ve spotted the anti-glider defences form 1939/40 stone cairns for erecting tall posts to keep this vulnerable area safe from invasion.

RAF Treyew on the cliffs near Newquay Zoo is another example of a Chain Home station Radar complex, now derelict on private farmland but just visible from the road. There’s more about these stations and other wartime underground sites for Home Guard auxilliary units and Observer Corps at the Subterranea Britannica website on  such stations.


Biggles does Double Trench Digging, Biggles Does Gardening … and other strange discoveries.

October 29, 2009

We’ve picked the first leaves of Pak Choi from the Wartime Garden at Newquay Zoo, ready and fresh for our Junior Keeper today to scatter feed as enrichment for our very rare Sulawesi Macaque monkeys.

You can read more about our award-winning Junior Keeper and adult Keeper for a Day scheme on the Newquay Zoo website

World War Zoo garden items Oct 09 026

W.E.Johns garden article "The Passing Show" January 1940 issue Our Garden magazine

We’ve had some good comments on the World War Zoo project blog and emails from fellow zoo gardeners, so please pass on our garden blog address. The more people read it, the more strange things we will uncover.

Discoveries such as this wartime gardening magazine, with features on gardening in the early months of the war (probably hastily rewritten as most magazines have several months in hand as we found out today). The gardening article is written by no less than Captain W.E. Johns, author of the famous Biggles flying stories (recently reissued) with such daring-do titles as Biggles Defies the Swastika. These would wile away the long hours in the Anderson Shelter or for keepers on night-time  fire watch.

Maybe Biggles does Double Trench Digging never made it further than the waste bin of history.   W.E. Johns (a former pilot) also wrote Worrals of the WAAF to inspire girls with air stories. But I never knew about his other life as a gardener …

We have acquired steadily at Newquay Zoo a small archive of wartime gardening and cookery books to help us with our modern recreation of a wartime zoo keepers’ garden, so we will share with you some of the tips and recipes over the next few months. You can buy powdered eggs still from the 1940s Society website, to attain that truly authentic (and revolting) flavour! (Revolting, according to our visitors at the garden launch weekend in August). Home cooking and ‘grow your own’ food together, history you can eat!

World War Zoo Pak Choi and  garden archive items Oct 09 016

Our first Pak Choi fresh picked at Newquay Zoo for endangered macaque monkeys alongside a wartime gardening magazine from our Newquay Zoo archive

Excitingly we have had our first article about the wartime garden accepted in the BGEN Botanic Gardens Education Network and Botanic Gardens Conservation International BGCI magazine Roots for 2010, so we have a few weeks to get this together for a January copy deadline and then wait a few months for this to appear.

Maybe some exciting Biggles style passages would be welcome?

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