Lions, Tigers & Bears in Hull!
In 1840, the city of Hull was welcomed to the opening of a new and most exotic attraction... the Spring Bank Zoological Gardens! At the northern end of Spring Bank and set out in 7 acres of land, the gardens were home to lions, tigers, kangaroos, eagles, owls and monkeys. Most famously, they also housed polar bears and an elephant. Also to be seen were model replicas of the city of Naples and the Crystal Palace that once stood in Hyde Park, London.
Regular fetes were held in the gardens with refreshments and entertainment, and plays and circuses were staged by local companies.
Although hugely popular and famous throughout Yorkshire, the gardens were sadly too expensive to run. In 1861 the gates closed on the animals for the last time. The gardens had to be auctioned off and the land was sold, eventually becoming a continuation of Hutt and Peel Street.
If you walk down Spring Bank today you can still find evidence of this marvellous piece of Hull’s history. Next time you are down that way see if you can spot the elephant (clue: careful, you might step on him) or a pair of mischievous polar bears (clue: look upwards).
And next time you are in Pearson Park, remember that some of the trees from the gardens were dug up and replanted in the park. That makes them at least 177 years old!
Help us revive the gardens!
Throughout 2017, staff here at the History Centre will be attempting to recreate this fantastic lost world in wool by knitting, crocheting, winding and felting. New additions will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and the website every month, so don’t forget to check back on our progress.
At the end of the year we will be unveiling our zoo in all its woolly glory. Details to follow closer to the time but, come December, we hope to welcome visitors to see the newest inhabitants of Worship Street in their brand new enclosures. It will be free, and because the exhibits are made from wool they won’t bite, smell or make a sound!
Want to have a go yourself?
We want this to be a city wide effort so we welcome contributions from all ages and abilities! You can bring your homemade woolly animals, trees, plants and flowers to join ours for the big-end-of-year reveal – the more the merrier.
Live too far away to join in or don't want to part with your creation? You can submit an e-animal to add to our Facebook gallery.
Download instructions (109kb, PDF) on how to submit an exhibit.
If you have a bit of time on your hands and want a bright and airy space to sit and knit with a cuppa, come and enjoy the History Centre arcade whilst you construct your contribution. Don't forget to tell anyone who might be interested in getting involved! You can do this by downloading our Hull Woolly Zoo flyer (255kb, PDF).