Newquay Zoo 1969 opening


This is the first of an occasional and informal monthly blogpost of an item from the Newquay Zoo Archive.

Newquay Zoo celebrates its 50th birthday on 26 May 2019, having opened on this Whit Monday day in 1969.


Today’s post is in honour of the visit to Newquay Zoo on the 17 April 2016 of the Bartlett Society, a society of zoo historians and enthusiasts.

We look forward in forthcoming months to sharing some of the many interesting items stored in our Newquay Zoo archive files.

We also are keen to hear the memories and interesting Newquay Zoo history snippets from past and present  visitors via our comments page.

We have already put together a rough Wikipedia timeline history for Newquay Zoo: Wikipedia history page for Newquay Zoo

The 1969 adverts

The Only Zoo in Cornwall … An attractive selection of wild animals in six acres of landscaped gardens

Looking at these adverts from the Cornish Guardian around our opening in May 1969, announcing the imminent arrival of Newquay Zoo, there are some interesting social history clues and features.

The title Newquay Zoological Gardens has a suitably grand ring to it!

The zoo telephone number is little changed, still a Newquay number ending in Newquay 3342. The Zoo was created by Newquay Urban District Council in 1969, so zoo staff were local council employees (something that remained until 1993/4). 

The 10 am opening time is still familiar, but in for the “everyday for the summer season” only (Easter to September / Autumn). Winter opening began around 1994.

There is no mention of parking charges but “Ample Car Parking Spaces Available” is importantly mentioned in a period when visitors were increasingly more and more likely to arrive by car than the more traditional  coach or railway.

Lions (graphically featured in this 1969 pen and ink sketch) have continued to feature on our Newquay Zoo advertising to this day.

The Curator at the time in 1969 was Peter Lowe, followed shortly after by Norman Marshall. (In 2016 the Curator is my long serving colleague John Meek). You can read more about Peter Lowe designing the zoo in 1968/69 here:

Ticket Prices 1969 and today.

The ‘six acres’ of 1969 is now more like 12 acres with Newquay Zoo’s expansion over the years. Double the Zoo!

I wonder how the entry prices for adults 3/6 and children 1/6 compared with Newquay Zoo today’s prices.

Now that we are a charity as part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust we also reclaim Gift Aid  on entry, helping our onsite and overseas conservation and development work greatly. Conservation work was then in its early days and something not discussed widely in a small council zoo in 1969.

Children under three were free then as now (2016).

Working out comparative costs from 1969 to today is quite tricky. Using the website http://www.measuring, one calculation is that the ‘relative worth’ of £0 3s 6d as an adult entry to Newquay Zoo from 1969 is in 2014 prices (the most recently available date):

£2.57 using the retail price index
£2.39 using the GDP deflator
£4.55 using the average earnings
£5.55 using the per capita GDP
£6.46 using the share of GDP

A bit of a variation from £2.57 to £6.46, depending how you count or account!

Similarly the 1/6 child price comes out as (in 2014 relative worth of the original £0 1s 6d in 1969):

£1.10 using the retail price index
£1.02 using the GDP deflator
£1.95 using the average earnings
£2.38 using the per capita GDP
£2.77 using the share of GDP

Bear in mind that Newquay Zoo today is twice the size at 12 acres to the six acres of 1969. It also has many more facilities than the original small 1969 zoo gardens.

Special Reduced Rates for Parties remain today! There are now plenty of different discounts and group options including the ‘free 7 day return’ type offer promoted by many Cornish attractions.

Take your pick – there are plenty of ways of calculating the current worth of 1969 prices:

We will try to find a reliable comparison of the cost of everyday items from 1969 to today in milk and Mars Bars etc.

For other events of our birth year 1969, the year of Space and Moon landings, the Beatles etc, look at

We hope you enjoy these blog posts – next month another interesting archive item.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo (Education section).


Author: worldwarzoogardener1939

World war zoo gardener and zoo educator at Newquay Zoo Cornwall UK

2 thoughts on “Newquay Zoo 1969 opening”

  1. I remember as a boy of 10 years, being taken along to the zoo, it may have even been the opening or pretty close to it. My great uncle was Albert Millward, who was a member of Newquay Urban District Council, [as it was then] and served as town mayor a couple of times. The memory stood out for me as one of the keepers got bitten whilst feeding a sea lion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David
      Thanks very much for sharing your memories – must have been quite a nasty bite ! – keep a watch on this page and our website for more news of our 50th Birthday Plans for May 2019. Sealions are mentioned in our latest April post, just about to be released.
      Mark Norris


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