Newquay Ladies Circle tree grown up

The Front Lawn and our original Cafe. Post 1969 / early 1970s Newquay tourism brochure – our tree would be off to the centre left of the bush planting.  (Newquay Zoo archive)

We’ve been doing some work on opening up our cafe space this month, which is still centred around the rectangular wooden block you see pictured here.

I was looking at this colour guidebook picture to get an idea of how our front lawn looked when first planted by Ernie Littlefield, the Council Head Gardener or Parks Superintendent.

This front lawn is now quite different, home to a Tortoise House, a Birds of Brazil Macaw Aviary and the Bird Hide covered viewing and eating area, as well as the Volunteer Pavilion and Red Panda enclosure.

Before this building over the years,  the front lawn (seen in early guide maps below) was mostly an open grassy  space near our cafe set aside for picnics.

Several paths run across it, some opened up by the zoo, others informally created by visitors taking a shortcut.

In the middle of one of these paths now stands a celebration tree to mark the Newquay Ladies Circle 21  years of friendship and service  1957 to 1978.

The Newquay Ladies Circle?

The tree site near the Monkey Walk enclosures.
Dedication plaque Newquay Ladies Circle 21st anniversary 1978 tree

Originally this tree must have stood on the lawn, set back from rather than in the middle of the path.

Every tree and dog has its day. It is nice to think that in its planting year, 1978, this was a celebration tree of hope and thanksgiving. As you can now see, it is now wrapped with lights and lit up as part of our winter and Christmas illuminations.

I wonder if the Newquay Ladies Circle still exists?

I wonder if anyone remembers watching the planting of this tree?

In my younger days I  spent many evenings and afternoons driving around Cornwall with a slide projector, giving many talks about Newquay Zoo to  community groups  but cannot recall this Ladies Circle group. Some of the groups I used to visit such as the Newquay Townswomen’s  Guild appear to have quietly faded away with age and years, though the Guild survives in Redruth, Devon and around the UK.

Maybe the Newquay Ladies Circle had gone the same way?

Not so – type in Ladies Circle on a search engine and you will find a modern website

Ladies Circle is a modern, vibrant club for women just like you! With hundreds of members aged 18 to 45 across Great Britain and Ireland, we want to offer the best opportunity for young women to connect with each other, have a great time, and give something back. (Ladies Circle website source)

Part of the Round Table family, the Ladies Circle celebrated its 80th anniversary  year in 2016, having “come a long way from its inception as a club for the wives of Round Tablers.”

A National Movement

The first group, Bournemouth No. 1 Circle, first met in 1932 as a social group for the wives of Round Tablers. … Eight more circles followed in 1936 in Manchester, Hastings, Liverpool, Doncaster, Middlesborough, Wolverhampton and Southampton, and soon after the national association was formed, under the guidance of first president, Win Hussey.

Then World War II hit, and Ladies Circle struggled to keep going. But it did survive, thanks to Edina Headon who kept the movement going and, leading from 1939 to 1948, is to this day Ladies Circle’s longest serving National President.

(Ladies Circle website source)

There is an explanation of the  Ladies Circle 21 years tree planting at Newquay Zoo

In 1947 Ladies Circle went international, with Great Britain & Ireland helping to set up Circles in Denmark and Sweden.

This led to the founding of the Ladies Circle International organisation in 1958 to bring together Circlers from across the globe.

Later that year, to celebrate 21 years of Ladies Circle, the national executive decided to adopt Imperial Cancer Research as the Ladies Circle national charity.

The first donation was £6,607, and we continued to support the charity as our national cause up until 2013 – which itself has modernised and is now known as Cancer Research UK – raising hundreds of thousands of pounds. Clubs now focus on raising funds for their own local causes. (Ladies Circle website source)

The Ladies Circle  now reaches 37 countries round the world, outward looking and international, just like a modern zoo!

So did the Newquay Ladies Circle still exist?

I eagerly checked the Circle Finder page

Sadly the Newquay branch is no longer listed. However  in Cornwall some Ladies Circle branches survive nearby in St Austell, Looe and Liskeard and Launceston with more branches in the Cornwall – Devon border at Okehampton, Bideford and near our sister Paignton Zoo in Torquay.

So whilst nobody from Newquay turned up on the Ladies Circle 80th anniversary in 2016 to celebrate this tree, the Circle continues to grow worldwide. Hopefully a happy tree!

There must be some ‘tree’ and ‘branch’ puns and metaphors in there somewhere too.

The Newquay Ladies Circle tree near The Bird Hide viewing area into the Birds of Brazil Macaw aviary, replacing the original more open sided African Hut party and schools eating hut. This picnic area now has AstroTurf outside to deal with heavy traffic in wet months.


The Tortoise House to the left of the Ladies Circle Tree
The Tortoise House to the left of our Ladies Circle tree

The early Route Map in the early to mid Seventies marks this lawn area as a Picnic Site., no. 25.


The earliest map (1969/70) records our tree site as Picnic Area no. 13 near the grand sounding Zoological Cafe.

1969 70 NZ map

I shall photograph this celebration tree in summer when its leaves are out to work out what sort of a tree it is.

The Newquay Ladies Circle 21st anniversary Tree at Newquay Zoo – another random bit of Newquay Zoo history researched in my lunchtime as we head towards our 50th anniversary in May 2019.

Blogposted / brought to you by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blog, 31 January 2017 .


Author: worldwarzoogardener1939

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

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