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United Kingdom Aston Lower Grounds Menagerie , Aston , Birmingham , West Midlands (1886 -1892 approx)

Discussion in 'Zoo History' started by zoowhosewho, 29 Dec 2019.

  1. zoowhosewho

    zoowhosewho Well-Known Member

    22 Mar 2019

    This establishment was opened upon the demise of the Aquarium and Pleasure Gardens on the same spot in 1886 …
    When I began researching this Animal Menagerie I was rather excited and confused as it was upon the site of the current Aston Villa Football Club Grounds… The team that I have supported since I was a young lad … I know before you all say it poor me …
    But anyway back to the Menagerie…So where does it all begin … Aston Hall which was and still is a beautiful building just a stones throw from what is now more commonly known as Villa Park … Sir Thomas Holte had the Hall built as his home (incidentally for those that know their football the Holte End is still one of the famous stands at the Villa Ground (named more after the Hotel that bore the name of Sir Thomas Holte although the Hotel and now Pub would have been named after Sir Holte) … upon his death his grandson inherited the Hall and then upon his death the house and grounds were taken on by Birmingham Corporation on 12th February 1858 Henry George Quilter was appointed clerk of the works of the "Peoples Park" … Queen Victoria officially opened the Park on 15th June 1858 …Aston Hall and Park Company Ltd arranged the visit of Queen Victoria ... However due to promises of funds from the public the park was not particularly successful .. in 1861 there was a public riot at the park when visitors could not get in and they turned their anger onto the Police and forced the turnstiles and broke down fences and set fire to them ... Later in 1863 a female tight rope walker fell and died during her act ... Queen Victoria made a complaint and the case was taken up by The Secretary of State ..that was the beginning of the end of the Aston Hall and Park Company Ltd and they were liquidated in February 1864 ...
    Birmingham Corporation took over the site again and now split the Hall and some land they granted a lease to Henry George Quilter for 31 Acres of land known as Aston Lower Grounds ... By 1871 the Gardens were beautiful , contained Cricket Grounds , 2 lakes covering 5 acres for fishing and boating ... A Roller Skate rink was added in 1875 .... The Gardens still failed to make money and in 1878 Mr Quilter relinquished control and the Aston Lower Grounds Company took over and the first thing they did was to Appoint Mr Quilter as Managing Director …
    In 1879 an Aquarium was added and Assembly Rooms were built ... .In 1884 the Gardens were repossessed and back in control of the Birmingham Corporation Mr Quilter was replaced as they appointed Mr (later to be Sir) George Reeves Smith JNR to be in charge ( Mr Reeves Smith had worked in Brighton Aquarium) ... In 1885 an Aviary was built against the wall of the Holte Hotel By 1886 the Aquarium failed…and immediately a Menagerie was set up …
    In the Menagerie collection there was a Foreign Bird Aviary, Monkey House, Bengal tiger , Panther , Jaguar , Puma , Lion, Polar Bear and pit , 5 Elephants , Zebras , Brown Bear , Camel and Kangaroo ... in 1888 an Elephant by the name of Jumbo was poisoned and killed … by an ex employee… The Menagerie was effectively closed by 1892 ...
    Aston Villa FC took over the lease of the grounds in 1892 and by 1897 were playing Football in their stadium …. Sir George Reeves Smith (1863-1941) went on to Manage the Berkeley Hotel in Piccadilly in 1893 and then the Savoy Hotel until the day he died.. Mr Quilter passed away in 1893 ... also in 1886 Cycle tracks, Athletics tracks and Football pitches were added ...there was also a Horse Racecourse
    Officially the ground of Aston Villa Football Club is still Aston Lower Grounds but the name was adopted as Villa Park in the early 1900’s … So another Menagerie airbrushed from the Zoological world …

    1st graphic is the Menagerie in 1887 , 2nd Image is Aston Hall ( such a beautiful building well worth seeng) , 3rd image advert for Queen Victoria opening of the Park in 1858
    Arek, sooty mangabey and Terry Thomas like this.
  2. Terry Thomas

    Terry Thomas Well-Known Member Premium Member

    5 Mar 2018