In its short lifespan, Maidstone Zoo became Kent’s biggest attraction. Images celebrating visits from the biggest stars of the day have been shared by Kent Photo Archive and Maidstone Museum, Now Cobtree Country park in Aylesford.
The Zoo was founded by Maidstone’s legendary Mayor, Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake, at Cobtree Park in 1934. It was opened by circus owner of the day Bertram Mills and featured exotic animals such as lions, elephants and polar bears
Since its launch, it slowly became one of the biggest tourist attraction of the area, drawing stars of the day to make public appearances.
The Story of Maidstone Zoo by Vickie Harris (Daughter of Ronald White)
Maidstone Zoo at Cobtree Park was the creation of Hugh Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake, who was a remarkable man by any standard: Zoologist, Writer, Artist, Business Man, 12 times Mayor of Maidstone, and finally High Sheriff of Kent.
His Zoo gave pleasure to hundreds of thousands of people over a period of more than a quarter of a century, and is today remembered with affection by many, some young when Tyrwhitt-Drake opened it, others young when he closed it, and others again who worked in it. (Vickie Harris)
In 1994, after years of research and help from the Late Lady Edna Tyrwitt-Drake, those who worked for the Zoo, those with memories of the Zoo, Libraries, Newspapers and others, the book “The Story of Maidstone Zoo” by Vickie Harris was produced.
This popular book “The Story of Maidstone Zoo” has been out of print for some time but is now been made available to read on a computer. This CD-ROM contains a large number of additional pictures not used in the original book, and is available here http://www.ronaldwhite.co.uk/Pages/MaidstoneZoo.aspx
It finally shut down in 1959.
A short film was also recorded and can be watched here: