Looking back to when our town had a zoo

TODAY our nostalgic lookback to Knaresborough's past sees a return to the 1960s. In the summer of 1965, exactly 40 years ago, the opening of Knaresborough Zoo made all the headlines but there were plenty of other things going on in the summer months of those 'swinging sixties.'


A plan to establish a zoological gardens at Knaresborough, first conceived two years ago by a visiting zoologist, Mr Milborrow, came to fruition yesterday with the opening of Knaresborough Zoological Gardens at Conyngham Hall.

The zoo is situated in a wooded glade near the hall and the animals and birds are housed in large wire cages that allow them as much freedom and is consistent with the safety of the public.

The exhibits are many and varied and range from a baby elephant to reptiles, from lions to bats. One of the zoo’s rarest exhibits is a ‘Cock of the rock’, a brilliantly coloured South American bird. It is believed to be the only one of its kind in the North of England.

At present in the bird section are two swans and a number of seagulls. These latter are victims of vandalism on the coasts of Britain, and as they will never be able to fend for themselves are cared for at the zoo. The swans are also patients, but it is hoped they will soon recover sufficiently to be set free to swim on the Nidd.

Among the other animals are bears, deer, llamas, racoons, birds of prey, and a large selection of exotic birds and birds of the parrot family. There are cranes, soft-billed birds, and for the children, a special corner with miniature ponies.

Cave paintings

A stone panel at the entrance is to be decorated with copies of early cave paintings in which animals played so great a part because the hunting of some animals and the fear of others was so much a part of existence in those far-off days. Mr Milborrow is to do the painting himself.

A important feature of the zoo is that it is fulfils the dual function of providing for some people’s leisure and for other people’s employment.

Plans are afoot to provide accommodation for seals and polar bears and these animals will be added to the zoo as soon as the work is completed. Mr Milborrow hopes that when the gardens do extend down to the river there will be room for many larger animals.

The layout has been interpreted by Messrs Moore and Mallett from Mr Milborrow’s original drawings.


During the first four days (Thursday to Sunday), since the Zoological Gardens opened in Knaresborough, 4,000 people visited them.

The weather has not affected the number of visitors. Even Monday proved no deterrent; a large number of people wandered around in the torrential rain.

Mr E Milborrow told a staff reporter on Tuesday that he hopes soon to introduce more animals. One new cage has been erected since the opening last Thursday and another is in the planning stage.

Mr Milborrow may also, at a future date, introduce modern animal sculpture, for decorative purposes.


Three nurses from Harrogate and District General Hospital had a difficult time choosing three winners in each group in the annual baby show at Knaresborough Community Hall on Saturday. The judges were Mrs Mavis Casey, Miss Mary Rose and Miss Lucy Fleming.

There was a good entry of 27. Prizes and certificates of merit were awarded in the three classes. Results were:

Three to six months: 1, Yvonne Gibson, 7a Stockwell Road; 2, Paul Bradley, 2 Goods Yard Cottages; 3, Helen Rogers, 11, Meadow Road.

Seven to 12 months: 1, John Stockill, 31, Stockwell Avenue; 2, Katherine James; 3, Phillipa Hewitson.

Thirteen to 18 months: 1, Philip Smith, 20a Finkle Street; 2, Michael Nottingham, 5a, Stockdale Close; 3, Diane Lofthouse, 26 Castle Ings Road.


On Monday evening, members of Knaresborough Urban Council spent several minutes sorting out what they took to be a contradiction in a minute of the Housing Committee which agreed that notice to quit should be served on tenants who did not within one month greatly improve the appearance of their Council house gardens.

The minute also stated that further consideration should be given to the subject when the Housing Committee met in September.

It was finally explained that there was really no contradiction.

The final notices requiring improved gardening from the tenants would be timed so that the formal resolution of notice to quit would be due when the September meeting took place. The object was to avoid having to start up the subject all over again in September and to ensure that some action was taken in the meantime.

Of 34 tenants originally written to, eight had done either very little or nothing at all. It is the eight ”do nothing” tenants who are now under observation and pressure.


Welcoming Knaresborough General Purposes Committee’s recommendation that joint representations with the Road Safety Committee should be made to the Ministry of Transport about the dangers of the Allerton Park junctions of the A59 with the Great North Road, Coun P J Hopkinson said at Monday’s meeting of the Knaresborough Urban Council that he hoped this latest move in the campaign to get safety measures set up there would receive the fullest possible publicity and that the Ministry would do something.

The need, it is stressed, is for a flyover at this very dangerous spot and meanwhile for the provision of ‘Dangerous Junction’ signs on the main road to induce traffic to slow down in that area. Since May 1961, 60 accidents have occurred, and there have been three fatalities, according to the Road Safety Committee’s statistics.