Your Letters

Hello, my name is Robert (Bob) Davies and I used to have an evening job as a securityman/usher, initially at Belle Vue Kings Hall, then after that at the Apollo Theatre, Ardwick.

I enjoyed reading in the Belle Vue Section of your website, of the evening Bing Crosby appeared at Belle Vue and thought you might like to hear my memories of the evening.

On arrival at the theatre, my boss, Pete Collier asked around for someone who didn't smoke.  I volunteered myself and he said "Right Bob, you are to sit by the steps stage left to help Rosemary Clooney and Kathy Crosby on and off stage.  You must stay there all night, don't dare move in case you are needed."  There were about five or six steps on and off stage, and they led to the dressing rooms the 'girls' were using.

The reason they wanted a non-smoker (not easy to find in those days) was that Kathy Crosby had an aversion to cigarettes and could detect their scent, even on clothes.

Anyway, the show started with Bing entering the stage from the rear as described in your article.  However, after a few numbers he left the stage for a short break when Rosemary Clooney came on to sing.  To my astonishment he exited stage left (unplanned) and I helped him down the steps, he then had to sit in my chair for a while and I reminded him that special arrangements had been made for him stage right so that he wouldn't need the steps.

After a couple of numbers by the girls, I helped him back up the steps on to the stage.  This situation repeated itself a number of times in the show when he forgot which side to exit.  Later, backstage, before he left Belle Vue, he shook my hand and thanked me.

I also assisted Kathy Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on and off stage as planned.

At the end of the show, his manager also sought me out to thank me and patted me on the back and said what a good job I had done.

Although at Belle Vue and the Apollo,  I saw most of the major acts of the late seventies and early eighties, this night was the highlight for me, because as a young lad my parents used to take us to the pictures, usually the Cosmo in Gorton, often to see Bing Crosby films.  His world seemed to be unreachable to me, as though he lived on a different planet.  To think that I would meet him and shake hands with him was incredible.  I am only sorry that I didn't get an autograph for my mother as she was a huge fan.

And of course, within three weeks he was gone from us.

Robert Davies
A Gorton Lad
Now exiled in Cornwall



I visited your site some time ago and am amazed at how it has come on. It really is very informative.

I would like to point out however, that the Belle Vue Water Chute is definately still fully operating at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and yes, it is now well tucked away! It has also been renamed the "Vikingar", since it is located next to the BPB Millenium Project (The "Valhalla" ride - apparently the worlds longest dark ride).

If one enters the park at the North gate, walk round to the left, around Playstation: The Ride and it is tucked away to the left of the huge new building which will house Valhalla (located on the site of the old fun house), and next to where the old "Tidal Wave" pirate ship used to be (currently operating at Pleasureland, Southport). It's the huge new structure which masks it.

The Scenic Railway you mention at Great Yarmouth is till operating under the name of "Roller Coaster".

It's also such a shame that non of Britain's big Theme Parks have thought of reconstructing the Belle Vue Bobs. Ok, so Blackpool Pleasure Beach has NO room left whatsoever, Southport Pleasureland is too crammed, but what about somewhere with loads of room such as Alton Towers, or Lightwater Valley? It's a great idea since it would attract people who remember the Bobs from their youth, and people like myself who never got a chance to ride it. There are currently NO coasters whatsoever with such winding drops in the UK. Not even modern woodies such as Megafobia have such a layout!

Anyhow, well done on the site,


I found your Belle Vue site and wondered if this park still exists. If not, i'd like to put a link to it from our Time Portal Museum located at:

I am currently looking for more links to defunct European parks. Do you know of any?

That aside, as ar as I know, The "Bobs" was designed by Canadian Fred Church and erected by Traver Engineering, as you surmised.

Richard Bonner

Managing Director:
The Coaster Enthusiasts of Canada

just letting you know that my old man use to do the security at belle vue,fromm 60s to it shut and he has got lots of photos of belle vue.He thinks you sent him a letter one time for him to send some photos but he lost your address to send them to.I myself use to as a little boy and we always got into everything for nothing ,eg,circus,the wrestling,fair ground,speedwayand all the shows.If you would like anything please let me know.

Hi David,

I enjoyed seeing the pictures of Belle Vue Zoo on your site.

I was born 1966 at Macclesfield / Cheshire and visited the Zoo in the early 1970's, I can remember the Giraffes leaning over the fence as in the picture and also Camels above a boating lake, the narrow guage railway = ( One of the engines is now at the Ravenglass & Eskdale Rly in Cumbria), Shooting The Rapids ride, etc etc. I can also remember that on one of our early 1970's visits whole acres of houses in the surrounding area had been demolised in a giant slum clearance scheme.

Like yourself I found Belle Vue very interesting as a child and unfortunately with the Zoo closing while I was still a young was unable to go back as an adult and see it in a different light.

I did work at the Locomotive depot over the road from the Back Entrance in the mid 1980's at that time the exhibition halls were still open and entry was gained through the Belle Vue archway. I can remember trying to place everything as it was but this was very difficult as it seemed so much smaller ( as things do) and apart from the roadway up to the halls everything else was fenced off.

I was surprised when all of a sudden in late 1985 / early 1986 I came to work and they had demolished the Back Entrance all together, I thought it would have been listed but obviously wasn't, The speedway moved to the Greyhound stadium at a similar time also and the whole area became a Car Auction Lot / Housing Estate.

I often wish I could go back to the Zoo as an adult just to see if it would be as good as it felt when I was a child or just very tacky and depressing and in need of making into a Housing Estate. Either way it's more dangerous to walk along Kirkmanshulme Lane at midnight nowadays than it ever was when the Zoo was open.

Best wishes,

Paul Oldfield

My father used to play double bass and guitar with Bonelli at the dances at Saturday night dances for six years. He stated the musicians nicknamed him Chico. I was able to show him the site and he was able to reminisce about the fire. He stated that Bonelli was quite a character. My father said he was dedicated musician and wanted perfection. He talked about copying the music for a fanfare for an Italian boxer and standing next to the musicians and turning around and the boxer was so huge that all he saw was a huge thigh. He also was there when Manchester City came Back from the Cup final the year Trautmann broke his neck and completed the match. My father related that he stood next to
him at the celebration. As a boy I remember the circus and the speedway. Especially the Frankfurters and onions and the smell of the petrol fumes and dust combined after the race. Nothing like it.
Thankyou again.

Denzil Grimshaw, Salt Lake City, Utah.