A replica of an original sign which once marked the entrance to Wellingborough’s Zoo Park was installed by the Borough Council of Wellingborough today.
The arched ‘Zoo Park’ sign is located above the former Sheep Street entrance and on the existing brick piers, which still display original information about the zoo, carved into stone plaques.
The sign is part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative Project, which includes town centre heritage trails and heritage information boards. Five such boards will soon be located at various points around Croyland Gardens, giving information about the history of the Zoo Park and its former inhabitants.
Councillior Jon-Paul Carr, Heritage Lead at Wellingborough Council said: “the Zoo Park sign and information boards will highlight an important aspect of the town’s history which many people have memories of.
“The Townscape Heritage Initiative, made possible by the Heritage Lottery fund, is enabling us to preserve and enhance Wellingborough’s history and in addition to the Zoo Park works, we have already restored several traditional shop fronts on Market Street and Silver Street and plans are underway to repair some of the town centre’s key historic buildings.”
The Zoo Park opened in June 1943 when local pet shop owner Mr H J Stevens opened his private collection of exotic animals to the public. He turned the house and grounds of Croyland Abbey, which he lived in at the time, into a zoo including monkeys, lions, panthers, a giant tortoise and a baby elephant.
The Zoo Park closed in 1970, with Croyland Abbey becoming council offices and the private gardens turned into a public park.
Copies of the Heritage Trails are available at the library, museum and the council offices. They can also be found online.