Plans to keep memory of Wellingborough Zoo alive on the site where it once stood

The entrance to the zoo
The entrance to the zoo

The days when Wellingborough had a zoo might be long gone, but this project could help preserve the memories for years to come.

Wellingborough’s Zoo Park opened in June 1943 when Mr H J Stevens, a local pet shop owner, opened his private collection of exotic animals to the public.

Wellingborough Zoo

Wellingborough Zoo

He turned the house and grounds of Croyland Abbey, where he lived at the time, into a zoo park with animals including monkeys, lions, panthers, penguins and a baby elephant.

And while the zoo closed its doors in December 1970, a project could see its history remembered on the site where it once stood.

Plans have been submitted for five timber information boards to be located across Croyland Gardens in Wellingborough, along with a steel replica of the original zoo park entrance sign over the entrance arch.

Documents submitted as part of the planning application state: “The overall aim is to reinstate a replica of the original zoo park entrance sign to reinforce the historical social significance of the site within the town, without compromising the site itself or the surrounding buildings.

Youngsters meeting the animals at Wellingborough Zoo

Youngsters meeting the animals at Wellingborough Zoo

“The information boards are to inform and educate the visitors to Croyland Gardens of its past use and to link this significance back to the heritage trail around the town.

“The proposals seek to make a positive contribution to the area and its immediate surroundings, with the use of traditional materials.”

If approved, the information boards will carry facts about the zoo, such as the original entry price being seven pence.

Pictures of the animals, including Simba the lion who was a much loved pet of Mr Stevens and his family and was often seen in the town, including visits to the pub, would also be included.

Another picture from Wellingborough Zoo

Another picture from Wellingborough Zoo

The plans, which have been submitted by Paul Burnett of Wellingborough Council, will be considered by the authority’s planning committee.