Miscellaneous Items about Halifax Zoo

Jeffrey Knowles has kindly transcribed a large number of items from national newspapers which mention Halifax Zoo and the amusements offered and enjoyed there.

The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 7th May 1909]1

Pranks of an Elephant

While Salterhebble people were sleeping peacefully this morning, Nigger, the elephant at the Zoo at Chevin Edge, was having a merry time.

She got a bag of cement and converted herself into a white elephant. The keeper cautioned her and left her, apparently subdued, with a companion dromedary. All went well during the day. At night, she was fed on a quarter of a hundredweight of hay, slaked with 12 to 15 gallons of water. She then went to sleep.

At about 3 am, this morning a tremendous row was heard but no-one knew from whence the noise came.

At 6.30 am, a gardener found traces of the elephant's feet all over the grounds. He called a keeper, a black man, who lives near and he was soon on the scene. Nigger had broke away from his fastenings – a stout iron chain fastened round one of his hind legs and attached to an iron bar driven 3 ft into the ground. He then broke a 2 ft thick wooden door, breaking parts to matchwood. After leaving her huge feet marks all over the flower beds, she fortunately did not interfere with the lions, bears, wolves, etc.

In the morning she was found asleep on the lawn in front of the mansion. There were traces she had been to the front gate, and the keeper can not understand why she did not pull this down. Nigger, who is 17 years old and weighs 2 tons is a very quiet creature. When the keeper arrived on the scene, Nigger followed him home. He then belaboured her with a stout stick which he keeps purposely whenever she becomes too playful, as on other occasions It would appear that the newspaper reported did not know whether Nigger was male or female


The Leeds Mercury [Thursday 3rd June 1909]2

Halifax Zoo

The Halifax Zoo with its capital menagerie and numerous associated attractions has straightway jumped into popularity.

Though only opened on Saturday, it had up to Tuesday night received the patronage of 42,259 persons, and yesterday the visitors were again numerous. The success attained has far exceeded the more sanguine anticipations of the promoters


The Halifax Evening Courier [Saturday 5th June 1909]3

Zoo's Rosy Prospects
More Animals Arrive – a Deer Park – a Children's Day

Halifax Zoo is now open.

New additions are being introduced almost daily.

We are advised that the lift to convey visitors from the Salterhebble road up to the level of the Zoo grounds is in the hands of the contractors


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 2nd July 1909]29

Lady Attacked by Boar

An exciting and unpleasant incident occurred at Halifax Zoo yesterday.

Somebody tells us that someone had been teasing the animal which caused the trouble, that it in consequence jumped over the rails of its den while there were a good many people around. The animal did not, as pretty widely reported, get out of the zoo grounds.

They were teasing the wolves last night, and if they could have got out they would have done

someone said.

We asked if anyone had been injured by the boar, and we were told that one lady had been bitten on the leg. The lady declined to give her name, but she is the sister of Mrs Midgley of Third Avenue, Halifax, and she came to Halifax on a visit last night accompanied by Mrs Midgley and the latter's child. The lady was with Mrs Midgley, looking at the guinea pigs when the boar sprang over the fence from a neighbouring den and seized the lady, sinking its two sharp teeth into her flesh. She was felled by the weight of the animal but strove to drive it off with her umbrella. A young man from Boothtown dashed up and, seizing the animal by the ears, dragged it away. The lady was taken to Mrs Midgley's home in Manor Drive where she was treated by Dr Alderman


The Halifax Evening Courier [Monday 12th July 1909]28

The cigar-shaped structure has a carriage and driving apparatus amidst crossed bamboos beneath. It is 80 feet by 30 feet and the propeller, making 250 revolutions a minute, is driven by a six hp petrol motor. The weight of the framework, motor, etc. is in the region of 400lbs.

The airship is believed to be the same that Messrs Spencer exhibited a few years ago at the Victoria Hall, Halifax. It has made some half a dozen flights, one of the latest missions being to carry a suffragette over the Houses of Parliament.

The envelope is filled with 40,000 cubic feet of coal gas


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 16th July 1909]4

Local Workshop's Tug of War Competition (Teams of Six)

To be held to-morrow, Saturday.

First Prize value £6
Second Prize value £4
Third Prize 10s.

Entry forms from Mr Halliday, Zoo, Halifax


The Halifax Evening Courier [Tuesday 10th August 1909]25

Double Parachute Descent
A Thrilling Spectacle

There was an eagerly-awaited event at Halifax Zoo yesterday before a crowd of 18,000 people. There was an ascent of a balloon and the subsequent parachute jump.

During early afternoon the great cigar-shaped envelope which people have so long associated with the airship was being filled with gas in the special enclosure. This continued until 4 o'clock when it was deflated.

To those watching the process, and there were many, the happening caused mild surprise. They had probably had misgivings whether the ascent into the clouds could be made.

The management had advertised the parachute descent, and they determined this must take place if at all possible. It appears that the balloon was late arriving from London, and rather than disappoint the people, the aeronauts were going to ascend by the cigar-shaped balloon attached to the airship. The arrival of the proper paraphernalia was the reason for the deflation of the balloon. About 7 o'clock, Black Dyke band took up a position in the enclosure. At last, Mr Boult was seen to hail from the crowd a group of men, and these it transpired were to hold the balloon down while Mr Henry Spencer and Lieut Goodden attached themselves to their respective parachutes. The intrepid aeronauts waved and bade goodby to the people, who responded with applause.

The order was shouted "Let go" and immediately this was done, up shot the balloon. Up it shot to a great height.

When the men looked mere specks to the people below, Lieut Goodden was seen to leave the balloon. Down he sped – like a stone – for some distance, and then in full sight of all below his parachute was seen to open. This checked his progress and he had a slow passage back to earth. On the balloon being relieved of his weight, it shot up another 1,000 feet with its passenger. Mr Henry Spencer then detached himself and he came to earth in exactly the same manner as Lieut Goodden.

Both sailed nicely towards Elland Upper Edge and landed in a field by Hawkyard's Brickworks. The balloon landed between Elland Upper Edge and Elland Edge roads.

Mr Spencer said Lieut Goodden jumped at 5,000 feet and he himself at 6,000 feet. He said he had never before had such a pleasant jump and the weather conditions were ideal. The two aeronauts then mingled with the crowds. It was the first time Lieut Goodden had made a parachute descent


The Halifax Evening Courier [Wednesday 11th August 1909]26

The following day, the Halifax Evening Courier gave a little more information

Lieut Goodden dropped all the way in full view. For a time, he hovered over the mansion and eventually landed in a field on the Exley side owned by Mr Waterhouse.

Mr Spencer was not so fortunate with his landing. It is rather singular that he should be carried Elland way. Perhaps it was that going higher and descending later, he struck a different current of air. Be that as it may, he was carried out to Park Nook Wood where he landed on top of a tree. His parachute got entangled amongst the branches and he eventually fell through the trees, but fortunately without injury, not even a scratch.

He announced to the crowd that his flight that night was his 500th. On Saturday, he intends to go two miles high


The Halifax Evening Courier [Thursday 12th August 1909]5

In connection with a trip taken by Mr W. Smith of Elland and Captain Spencer in his airship last night, there is an unrecorded incident with an interesting sequel.

When in mid-air the instrument for denoting height attained was handed to a passenger, with instructions to put it in a bag nearby.

This was done.

Later Captain Spencer threw a bag overboard, and later still inquired for the instrument in question.

The passenger said he had put it away in accordance with instructions, and it was then found that the bag and the instrument had departed overboard.

The passenger (of Scotch descent) said

Why, we don't want that instrument to go down with do we?

Captain Spencer, however, looked at the matter from the

bang went another sixpence

point of view, the instrument being worth some pounds.

Fortunately on Tuesday evening the instrument was returned to its owner, having been found at Elland Edge


The Halifax Evening Courier [Saturday 14th August 1909]6

An inquiry has been made asking the Zoo authorities when they are going to make access to the Zoo easier.

On inquiry, we are told then the proposed revolving staircase is not to be installed.

One correspondent said that it would be appreciated if half a dozen benches were placed in Exley Bank.

We are informed that the management has secured the original steam motor car. It is proposed to run this round the grounds, passengers paying a small sum, for the privilege. It is a very antiquated piece of mechanism


The Halifax Evening Courier [Monday 16th August 1909]7

Boat Trip to the Zoo

To the Zoo by boat is a decided novelty, but an outing of the kind is announced for next Saturday. The boat will leave the wharf at Hebden Bridge and should wend its way to Salterhebble and return with its tourists in the evening


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 3rd September 1909]8

Reynard Swims The Canal

This morning officials of the Halifax Zoo had a unique experience, a foxhunt. One of the keepers turned up early this morning and found that one of the white foxes had escaped. It was not until some time later, that the animal was found crouching under a tree in the direction of Greetland. Then an exciting chase began.

One member of the hunting party said that the fox behaved in an aggressive fashion, lying down submissively until they were almost on top of it and then running away like greased lightning. Reaching the river Calder, it plunged in. The Zoo hunters jumped in after it.

Reaching the other side, the fox waited until the breathless pursuers reached the bank , and then plunged in and swam back again. It then ran pell mell towards Greetland, where it was finally captured. A rich steak apiece from the catering department was given to all the hunters


The Halifax Evening Courier [Thursday 28th September 1909]9

The Zoo

This week four magnificent white polar bears will be added to the Zoo's already splendid collection


The Leeds Mercury [Monday 27th December 1909]10

Halifax Zoo
Flying Meeting at Enormous Expense

  • Bleriot Monoplane which flew at Blackpool
  • Handysydes Biplane which flew at London
  • Pickersgill's Monoplane

To ensure flying when possible, £1 per minute will be paid to each aviator


The Brighouse News [Wednesday 8th June 1910]11

Residents of the district need not sit out on the roofs tomorrow scanning the firmament to witness the passage of the flying man, because it is now announced that Mr Grahame-White has decided that he will not, after all, risk flying from London to Halifax in view of any possible mishap to his machine which would interfere with his Zoo engagement. He may, however, endeavour to return to the Metropolis after the termination of his visit to Halifax by air. We understand that over £1,200 has already been paid in connection with Mr White's visit by the management of the Zoo

The Yorkshire Post [Monday 13th June 1910]12

Mr Grahame-White – Remarkable Feats At Halifax

Mr Grahame-White, the young English aviator, accomplished half a dozen remarkable feats at Halifax on Saturday.

Having waited on Friday for suitable weather conditions when he did not go up, Mr White arrived at Halifax Racecourse on a beautiful calm day. Being early in the day it was a pity that there were so few people there when he essayed his first and best feat of the day. Out of the shed the great machine was trundled by his youthful mechanics, and into the driving seat Mr White stepped, attired in brown overalls. The promoters had offered him an additional £250 if he flew to the Halifax Zoo and back, a distance of some half a dozen miles. The bait was tempting but the young airman realised that the wind must be dead calm before he could, with any degree of safety, essay a voyage over such broken country as Halifax, with its hills and valleys, its mills, and it's great workshops. If anything went wrong there was no open space to alight on. He said he would go up and then decide what to do. The propeller blades were soon whizzing, the engine was panting, and in a second or two the frail-looking machine was gliding along the greensward, moving gracefully skywards under perfect control. Leaving the golf links the machine rose height over the Wheatley valley until it reached an altitude of about 500 feet. The plane disappeared for a moment behind the golf club-house and appeared over the grandstand at a much greater height. He's off people shouted. Crows and sparrows fluttered about in confusion, as if in fear of capture by this terrible thing which was rivalling them in flight. Off went Mr White, passing over the Octagon Tower and his machine disappearing from sight. The crowd at the Zoo, which overlooks Salterhebble valley, were afforded a splendid sight. Soaring above the Zoo, the engine's pulsations could plainly be heard and the crowd broke into rapturous cheers. They thought Mr White would alight but he did not do so, executing a splendid curve and heading back towards the Racecourse. The machine soared over the [Crossley Orphanage], forging its way through the air as if it were a thousand pound motor car on some perfect stretch of roadway. The precise time of landing was three o'clock and that made the complete journey to the Halifax Zoo and back in 13 minutes – a really marvellous performance. In reply to questions he said that when he got over buildings there were awful air currents and his hand trembled with the strain of holding the lever so long


The Leeds Mercury [Monday 20th June 1910]13

On Saturday Mr Grahame-White crashed in his plane at Brooklands Aerodrome when the Gnome engine failed and the plane was completely wrecked.

His passenger was Lady Abdy but there were no serious injuries


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 8th July 1910]14

Mr Graham-White and Alleged Furious Driving

Mr Grahame-White, the famous aviator, should have appeared at Bradford West Riding Police Court yesterday to answer a summons for driving a motor car to the danger of the public but a telegram was received asking the magistrates to decide the case in his absence.

PC Peaker said he was on duty at Drighlington tramway terminus when he heard a motor horn and immediately afterwards a motor car dashed past him at a rate of about 30 miles an hour.

When spoken to the following day and told he would be reported for being a danger to the public, Mr White replied

Is that all?

A witness Stephen Burnett, said he saw

the car fly up the road at 40 to 50 miles an hour

Witness Seth Lambert said a car passed him

in a flash of lightning

and remarked at the time

Yond chap would beat Graham White at flying

PC Peaker said

It might be him

A fine of £10 was imposed with costs


The Stage [Thursday 4th August 1910]24

This place of entertainment, instruction, and amusement, which has been in existence for practically two years, is fast developing into a very important factor in the calculations for amusement in Halifax and district.

In the open-air theatre there is Fred Lino's Merry Makers and also in the open-air is Hodgini's circus, Miniature Railway, Electric theatre, Shooting jungle, Captive balloon, bands, dancing, fireworks, etc.

Mr F. McKill is the enterprising manager of a very pleasantly situated and popular place of entertainment


The Halifax Evening Courier [Saturday 21st August 1910]15

Today's Horse Parade

The special attraction associated with Halifax Zoo this afternoon was a horse parade.

Due to the unsettled weather the horses were mustered in Francis Street where the judging took place before the procession to the Zoo at Chevin Edge.

There were long delays in the judging and there was much grumbling about this.

The procession was via King Cross Street which attracted more attention and taking part in the procession was Nigger the Zoo elephant which was the centre of as much interest as anything.

About 19 horses took part in the procession


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 19th May 1911]27

Wanted 50 Waitresses

Whit Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

Apply: Mr G. P. Wilkinson
Catering Department
Halifax Zoo

The Halifax Evening Courier [Thursday 21st December 1911]22

Mauled by Bears
Boy's Terrible Ordeal at Halifax Zoo
Claim for Damages
Exciting Story at Halifax County Court

His Honour Judge Longstaffe today heard a sequel to a startling incident at the Halifax Zoo.

Donald Haigh, the 11-year-old son of Edward Haigh of 21 Westbourne Terrace, Salterhebble, Halifax, sued Halifax Zoo through his father.

The boy sustained serious injuries while at the Zoo with his mother and four younger children. The children had bought some small things from a stall to feed the animals with. When they were about to go home they had to pass the cage containing four polar bears. The mother and younger children were at the side, and Donald, with his brother Arthur, was in front. The cage was not like most cages where animals are kept. It was not raised above the ground so as to be reasonably safe. The cage was on the ground with bars to the front, three inches apart. There was, therefore, ample room for an animal like a bear to put it's paws through the bars which came within three inches of the ground.

In front of the cage was a horizontal bar, and that was the only protection, about 24 inches away from the cage at a height of about 3 ft 6 ins from the ground. There was nothing to warn a child and nothing to prevent a child from getting under the bar and getting nearer to the cage.

The boy noticed a piece of bread lying on the ground just outside the cage, and like 99 boys out of 100 he thought he would pick it up and give it to the bears. He stooped down to do so, and then one of the bears put its paw out and got hold of the boy's arm and pulled it right to the side of the cage, and another bear came and bit him also. There was no keeper there, and it was not until the boy had been got clear that a keeper came.

The boy was seriously injured. His right arm would be permanently affected. Before the accident he was a very intelligent boy, but as a result of the accident he had sustained very severe shock. Medical evidence would be forthcoming that the boy suffered from that unfortunate ailment St Vitus' dance and had become nervous and irritable. He woke up one night on one occasion and rushed downstairs saying the lions were after him.

The boy said

The bear pulled the bread and my hand as well, and started eating my hand

His mother came to help him.

He remained in hospital for six weeks and then, for a further six weeks had to attend the hospital to have his wounds dressed.

The boy's father Edward Haigh said his son had wanted to enter the Civil Service but no doubt his present physical condition would disqualify him.

His Honour

What right have you to say that?

I have made enquiries

Of whom?

Of a friend who is in the Civil service

You apply to the Civil Service Commissioners and see what they tell you

Other witnesses were PC Rothwell, Dr Mackay, Dr J. Crossley Wright and Alfred McKill, managing director of Halifax Zoo Limited.

Fred Hinds, head keeper at the zoo, said the polar bears could possibly get their hands out between the bars six or seven inches. There were seven men working under the witness and they walked about the grounds from cage to cage stopping people from teasing the animals and getting inside the barrier. He had not seen any person get underneath the barriers but he had seen people leaning over them.

[Hinds was] asked

I suppose it is a bare guess that the bears can put their paws out six or seven inches, it might be eleven or twelve inches?

I should not like to hold a bear's paw to measure it


Sarah Ellen Town of 15 Merrybank Street, Sandholme, Todmorden, a visitor to the Zoo, saw the boy about an hour before the incident leaning over the bar. She said to him

My word, if you are not careful you may go home without boots or a foot if one gets hold of you

The lad replied

I do not think so. I shall be plenty sharp enough for them

John Aaron, a coloured underkeeper said he warned the boy ten minutes before the incident, when he was inside the barrier.

(Proceeding)  The boy was awarded £140 damages and costs


The Yorkshire Evening Post [Monday 29th July 1912]23

Order Made for Winding Up of Company
Petitioner a Director and Shareholder

At Halifax County Court, Judge Longstaff heard a petition for the winding up of Halifax Zoo and Amusement Park (Limited).

The petitioner was Mr Joshua Henry Taylor of Lyndhurst Villas, Halifax, a director and shareholder of the company, who alleged that £235 was owing to him by the company.

The application was supported on behalf of Donald Haigh, a Salterhebble boy, who secured judgment against the company he received having been clawed by a Polar bear whilst standing close to its cage at the Zoo.

The petition was opposed on behalf of a number of creditors and shareholders, whose financial interests in the Zoo were said to far outweigh those of the petitionary creditor.

His Honour made an order for the winding up of the company


The Leeds Mercury [Wednesday 18th June 1913]16

Grizzly Affords Stern Chase at Halifax

Two bears, a large Russian and a big grizzly, yesterday afternoon escaped from their cage at Halifax Zoo while their keeper was inside, and made off into the grounds.

An alarm was raised, the zoo staff gave chase, and the Russian was recaptured as it was about to emerge through the zoo entrance gates into the open country.

The other bear had made better headway, and led the pursuers down Exley Bank, through Siddal, and into Elland Woods before they could get up with it.

It was with great difficulty that it was then induced to surrender to the keeper


The Leeds Mercury [Saturday 2nd August 1913]17

Halifax Zoo Attractions

The management of the Halifax Zoo and Amusement Park have made elaborate arrangements for dealing with the large crowds which are sure to visit this popular resort on Bank Holiday and the week following, which is Halifax Wakes.

The King Cross Prize Band is engaged for next Monday and the band of HM Border regiment for Monday and Tuesday following.

There are many more new features in addition to the numerous fixed attractions which have made the Halifax Zoo famous.

The splendid collection of strange animals and rare and beautiful birds in the well arranged cages are always to be seen and admired, and an attraction which should not be missed is the baby lions, which were born a few weeks ago in the Zoo grounds.

The amusements are on a lavish scale, and ensure a full day's pleasure.

Refreshments may be obtained in the mansion or at the kiosks.

The Halifax Zoo can be highly recommended for an enjoyable outing


The Barnsley Chronicle [Saturday 3rd August 1914]18

The Order made by Judge Longstaffe to wind up the Halifax Zoo and Amusement Park may very possibly lead to a misapprehension.

It is a company which, as at present constituted, will cease to end, not the zoo.

So far as the zoo is concerned, His Honour's decision will make no difference whatever.

Since April 1911, as was stated in court, the debenture holders and not the company have had the control of the popular Exley grounds.

The programme for Halifax Wakes is in hand and things will remain as they are, and will be welcomed by the great bulk of Halifax people


The Leeds Mercury [Saturday 22nd July 1916]19

Halifax Zoo

Animals in fine condition.

Just the place for children.

Under new Local Management


The Halifax Guardian [Saturday 13th April 1918]20

Halifax Zoo & Amusement Park, Chevin Edge, Halifax

Sale by Auction on 1st and 2nd May 1918.

Instructions to dismantle, catalogue and sell the whole of the Wooden Erections together with the Valuable Theatre and Mansion Furnishings and the contents of the Greenhouses, etc. which are to be sold by auction


The Halifax Evening Courier [Friday 3rd May 1918]21

Auction at the Zoo

The dismantling of the Zoo, Salterhebble, has this week brought the miscellaneous effects under the hammer.

Sale included Floor boards, Ladders, Copper geysers, Stuffed birds and animals, Buffalo's head, Bar table, cutlery, chairs and orchestra organ (No live animals were sold at this sale) 


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 18:46 / 1st June 2021 / 46336

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