As a follow-up to my last post, here’s a cine film taken by my father of a family visit to Riber Zoo on 30th August 1969. The castle building appears to be in a state of complete ruin – very different to how it appears now. By today’s standards, the zoo seems rather too cramped for the animals. The safety precautions for visitors also seemed lax, as evidenced by my brother sat on one of the enclosure walls at about 25 seconds in. There’s also a makeshift “These animals are very dangerous” sign 72 seconds in. However, the only thing I really remember about this visit was the unpleasant smell of the place.
The visit took place as we were caravanning nearby at the Derbyshire Caravan Club’s Bank Holiday rally. Here’s the information sheet from the event. This has survived because my father kept a detailed log book of all of the caravan outings we had as a family between 1967 and 1976.
And finally, no log book entry would be complete without his own notes. I especially like the note of the routes taken to and from the rally. There’s also a very short cine clip of the hot air balloon seen at Crich in the archive.
In 1974, Stapleford Hall near Melton Mowbray was home to the 2nd Lord Gretton and his family. The park was at its peak as a tourist attraction, with the grounds containing a lion reserve, miniature railway and two scale model cruise liners.
The Derbyshire Caravan Club centre held a rally there that September. I’ve recently digitised a short sequence of cine film that shows the railway and ships in operation during that weekend.
The White Heron arriving into the station, delivering its passengers to the model cruise liners.
The lake had a working lighthouse.
The Northern Star setting sail for a cruise of the lake.
Today, the hall is a hotel, the lion reserve is long gone and the scale model cruise liners are no more. However, the miniature railway is miraculously intact and is open to the public twice a year. In 2017 these events are scheduled for 10th & 11th June and the long bank holiday weekend at the end of August.
Recently rediscovered at my parent’s house. Finding these plaques brought back memories of listening to Friday Night is Music Night on a battery-powered radio and endless card games. I also remember with some fondness the (sometimes rather strange) competitions the rally organisers ran over these weekends, dodging cow-pats and thistles in the fields where the caravans congregated and the faintly sinister “round the flag” gathering on a Sunday afternoon before everyone hitched up their ‘vans and headed for home.
Update: 8th October 2013
The Caravan Club is still around and has recently refreshed its website, which is definitely worth exploring. It’s also good to see that the Derbyshire Centre is still going strong.