Friday 21 March 2014

Belle Vue book published 90 years too late!

To coincide with the Manchester Histories Festival, we are excited to announce the publication of a new ebook on the history of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens.

Written nearly ninety years ago by George Jennison, grandson of the founder John Jennison, but remaining unpublished until now, the book has been edited and annotated by Zoe Willock as part of her history degree at MMU. The book was written when the Jennison family gave up its concern in the famous zoo and amusement park, and was intended to represent the official history of the site, but George Jennison insisted that publication be delayed for at least twenty-five years to avoid upsetting his family.

The book is a tribute to Zoe’s hard work and dedication to her subject, and is beautifully illustrated with material from the Belle Vue collection at Chetham’s Library as well as from other repositories. The full title of the work is The Making and Growth of the Famous Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester, and the History of its Competitors: A Century of Lancashire Open-Air Amusements 1825-1925.

See the pdf here.

Friday 14 March 2014

The mysterious monkey lady

Does anyone know who this glamorous lady with three adorable monkeys is? The photo was taken at Belle Vue in Manchester in - probably - the 1940s, and is from the collection of Brian Selby, who has kindly loaned us his collection so that we can include it in our digitisation project. Email us at if you know!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Creative Threads

We'll be taking part in the Manchester Histories Festival 'Creative Threads' day on Sunday 23rd March, and you're all invited! This is a brilliant opportunity to travel round the city visiting Manchester's small heritage venues on a hop-on, hop-off bus, taking in some free entertainment along the way.

We'll be hosting our lovely friend, volunteer and talented folk singer Jen Reid, who'll be talking about and singing some of the ballads from the collection, and there are many other exciting events taking place around the city. Find out more here.

Friday 7 March 2014

Gimme shelter

The Manchester Histories Festival is fast approaching, with Belle Vue very much in the spotlight, and it's great to see so much interest and involvement. We will of course be delving much deeper into the Belle Vue archive during the next year or two thanks to our generous grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, but meanwhile we offer you this fabulous image from August 1964 of the crowd at the Rolling Stones concert at the New Elizabethan Hall.