Southport - Zoological Gardens

Scarbrick New Road : PR8 1RX Southport - Zoological Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland Southport - Zoological Gardens : Image credit Wiki Commons
In 1868, William Blundell built the Alexandria Hotel on Scarbrick New Road and opened a 13 acre pleasure garden called Kew Gardens (Kew farm was nearby). The gardens were developed and renamed Southport Zoological Gardens around 1880. On the 12 acre site there were gardens, a pavilion, a lake with gondolas as well as birds and animals. The gardens were connected by a horse tram service to central Southport.

Bicycle racing at Southport Zoological Gardens started in 1881 and the Athletic News of June 1st reported "Mr Fish has laid out a splendid cinder path, nearly a quarter of a mile in circumference." The General Manager Mr Fish was previously at Raikes Hall in Blackpool and the Pomona Palace in Manchester. The gardens advertised a series of bicycle handicap races at Whitsun 1881; on Wednesday a 1 mile race, on Thursday a 2 miles race, followed by a 3 miles race on Friday and a 10 miles race on Saturday. Tommy Edge, who went on to be a champion rider, won three races at these meetings.

The next meeting was on August Bank Holiday Monday and there were two bicycle handicap races over 1 and 5 miles. The Athletic News commented that riders could also take part in the races at the Southport Winter Gardens on the same day.

Racing continued through 1882, but this was to be the last year in the short life of the track. The competition for bicycle racing in Southport at this time was from the Winter Gardens and Cemetery Road tracks and the Winter Gardens, having a more central location, seemed to have won out commercially.

There was a fire at the gardens in 1908, which caused considerable damage and resulted in the death of two elephants, a rhino, zebra and two camels. Visitor numbers declined after the fire and when the tram service stopped in 1912, the gardens wound down, closing by the end of the First World War.


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Maps    : National Library of Scotland