by Roger Edwards, Special Projects Officer, Glasgow Zoopark, December
Constructing the new zoo
photograph of the old main
gate on the Hamilton Road shows the roof of the Swiss chalet lodge
with its urns. Sydney Benson labelled the picture
The main gate at Calderpark Estate, Broomhouse. Joiners and
painters have been busy erecting notice boards and erecting new
gates. Work on the erection of the enclosure is expected to commence
is no indication when this picture was taken and because of the
frustrating delays over construction of the Zoo it could date from
any period between 1939 and 1946 - mid 1940s seems most likely.
the first turf took place on 31st May 1946. Work started at Calderpark
on 3rd June. The annual report for that year says that:
'only ex-servicemen were engaged - seven, including a foreman
- and the enclosing of the park was their first task. . . . About
30 acres have now been enclosed and roads and paths have been cut
and laid. The quantity ofroad
material used to date is nearly 2,000 tons. It must be appreciated
that this work had to be completed before the building of enclosures
and dens could be started. By mid-October the first enclosure was
finished. This is in area about seven acres, and includes the loch
The deckhouse from a boat was placed in position on 2nd September
1946 and three days later it was duly inspected (see note
). On 3rd September road material for the main drive was delivered
from Glasgow Corporation; this photograph is labelled looking east
east near compound
working on the road
photograph taken on the same day shows men
working on the road, along with pipe laying and the first cage. On
28th September 1946, the Earl of Dumfries and A. McNab Chassels were
photographed on the site of the Children's Zoo (see note
). The next day they inspected a bulldozer cutting road at river on
west,near golf course. An undated photograph shows Lord Dumfries
and Mr Chassels inspecting a fence constructed from tank track (see
Earl of Dumfries and A. McNab Chassels on
the site of the Children's Zoo
constructed from tank track
Earl of Dumfries and A. McNab Chassels inspecteing
a bulldozer cutting road at river on west,near golf course.
annual report goes on to say that the first animals included eight
Soay sheep, two donkeys, two Anglo-Nubian goats, two white swans,
two ducks and one black swan. On 28th October 1946, Mr A. McNab Chassels
(vice-president) was photographed with donkeys, goats and a horse.
The two women have not been identified; the older one appears in other
photographs and may be Mrs Chassels perhaps with a personality of
the day. On 2nd January, 1947, the first aviary erected with A.R.P.(air
raid precautions) doors was photographed, donkey and sheep in the
foreground. This would appear to be near where the tree porcupine
enclosure now is.
A. McNab Chassels (vice-president) with
donkeys, goats and a horse.
first aviary erected with A.R.P.(air raid precautions) doors was
photographed, donkey in the foreground.
18th January, Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake was photographed looking
at the now enlarged
aviary and resident white peacock, and also with Mr Chassels looking
at the Anglo-Nubian goats. Sir Garrard also donated animals, including
a rare blue-eyed royal
cream pony (see note ). The
Society was still run from an office in Bothwell Street, as shown
in a photograph of Sydney Benson and his secretary, Miss Marjorie
Fraser, dated 25th April 1947 (see note ).
Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake looking
at the now enlarged
aviary and resident white peacock.
looking at the Anglo-Nubian goats.
Garrard also donated animals, including a rare blue-eyed royal
Benson and his secretary, Miss Marjorie Fraser
same day the keeper Mr
William Cunningham was photographed at Calderpark (see note
). We have a photograph of the BBC's Kathleen Garscadden (Aunty Kathleen
) dated 28th May 1947. The significance of this picture is not clear,
but it does show Tom H. Gillespie (founder director of Edinburgh Zoo,
in spectacles), Gilbert Fisher (father of Jerry Fisher who was director
of Glasgow Zoo for a spell), and James Douglas Home (see note
BBC's Kathleen Garscadden (Aunty Kathleen )
Tom H. Gillespie (founder director of Edinburgh Zoo, in spectacles),
Gilbert Fisher (father of Jerry Fisher who was director of Glasgow
Zoo for a spell), and James Douglas Home
members of the Society's
Council were photographed at Calderpark on Sunday 27th April 1947
- from left: James Morton, Strachan Kerr, Dr James Johnstone (vice-president),
two unknown, A. McNab Chassels (vice-president), Sydney Benson (director-secretary)
and Colonel T.H. Scott.
10th June 1947 vice-president A. McNab Chassels and the president,
now titled the Marquis of Bute, were photographed in front of what
eventually became the lion
dens. A second photograph of these dens is dated 2nd
July 1947 .
A. McNab Chassels and the president, now titled the Marquis of Bute,
in front of what eventually became the lion
These notes come primarily from a taped interview with W.R.S. MacKenzie
(Society President) and others in July 1987.
Deckhouse . The party inspecting the deckhouse on 5th September
1946 includes (from left) the Earl of Dumfries (president); Dr James
Johnstone (vice-president); Sir Garrard Trywhitt-Drake; A. McNab
Chassels (vice-president in bow tie); Dr Sneddon with pipe; Tom
Gillespie (director of Edinburgh Zoo, hatless with glasses).
could not get new building materials in 1946 because of the demand
for rebuilding after bombing, so you had to buy second-hand materials.
The deckhouse was the first workman's bothy. There were seven men
employed by the Zoo, all ex-servicemen, and they did everything.
From these second-hand materials they built the Zoo - it really
was an achievement.
Old Children's Zoo
. This is probably the area now occupied by the Barbary Sheep enclosure.
The ground drops away to the far side of the road, and there was
a rough drive, the route of the carriageway to the old Calderpark
Tank track fence
. This could be a boundary fence between the North Calder River
and where the Axis deer now are (in the 1990s to become the bird
of prey arena). Richard O'Grady identified it as the boundary at
the Broomhouse Hall.
Royal Cream Pony . Caption on photograph: Many animals, which have
been presented to the Society, are being given temporary homes.
Here is a rare blue-eyed royal cream pony, at present with Mr A.
McNab Chassels (vice-president). It was given by Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake,
Maidstone. The zoo at Edinburgh is also keeping a few till Glasgow
is ready for them.
Miss Marjorie Fraser : Caption on photograph : Glasgow
Zoo Story: In their office, 11 Bothwell St, Glasgow, Director-Secretary
Mr S.H. Benson and his secretary, Miss Marjorie Fraser, the Society's
first employee, refer to a letter from their filing cabinet, the
Society's first furniture.
Mr William Cunningham : Caption on photograph: Glasgow
Zoo Story: Mr William Cunningham, Baillieston, who looks after the
animals at Calderpark, gives 'Jock' the Australian black swan, the
'once over' after the severe weather. Jock is quite fierce and will
allow no one to approach except Mr Cunningham, but to him he comes
like a pet dog, 'begs' and wants to be fondled. The swan was
a donation from the Hon. Kenneth Weir.
Kathleen Garscadden , known as Aunty Kathleen of the BBC
was one of the fabulous characters of Scottish broadcasting; radio
was her forte. Anybody in Scottish entertainment first appeared
in Children's Hour under Aunty Kathleen. I don't recognise the children,
but the men are: Tom H. Gillespie, the founder of Edinburgh Zoo
and their first director is the one in spectacles, was known as
the Zoo Man; Gilbert Fisher, known as Hut Man, became director of
Edinburgh Zoo for quite a number of years; James Douglas Home, known
as Bird Man, is on the left. For years the BBC did not have a proper
recording of the hoot of a tawny owl in the middle of the night;
they now do have it in their archives and Douglas Home did it -
with his hands. It is the one they use to this day, on every owl
recording they have ever done!
Lion Dens This is the beginnings of the lion cages, which were
progressively developed. The outside run, which has the holding
cages, but twice the size, was exposed to the open air. This outside
run was very, very much smaller than the enclosure we have today.
[ The date written on the photograph, 2nd July 1947, is probably
a mistake as the Zoo opened just seven days later].