Your Letters


Hi David

What a good web site well done it brings back many good memories. I am a Brass Band Fan and run the web pages for The United norwest Coop Milnrow Band who used to compete at Belle View under the village name of Milnrow Band.
We are making a history of our Brass Band and would welcome copies of any information on our band you might come across .
P.S. When are you updating this portion of your site in the
entertainment section.




I work for a community development organisation based in Miles Platting called Manchester Community Information Network. Our work is particularly related to the internet and we are involved in a number of community web sites, including, and

I have just been having a look through your own web site and have been really interested in finding out about the history of Belle View. I was wondering if it would be OK for me to link to your site on eastserve? There is a section on eastserve called 'Memories of East Manchester' through which people can post their memories of the area. Perhaps you would be interested in having a look. It would be great if your site could be included here as an interesting insight into times gone by and a memory jogger for local people.

Many thanks for your help.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Kind regards,

Claire Raven
Community Information Development Worker
Manchester Community Information Network


I found your site absolutely fascinating. Having as a kid enjoyed the zoo, amusements, circus and especially the speedway, I find it sad that the area
became a housing development. Your information provided a lot of early background that I didn't know. Keep up the good work!

It would be greatly appreciated if you could add my father to your mailing list. He doesn't have web access but would most definitiely enjoy any
historical information about Belle Vue. His details:

Allan Millward
21 Chatsworth Road

Hi Dave,

My name is lorraine. I used to go to the top ten club-in fact I was one of the dancers there. Yes, one of the six belles(arrggh). It was a magical time, all the stars we met. We took some home to my mams for tea after bandcall on sunday afternoon. My dads face when he saw arthur brown! We daced with them all. We saw the small faces/the herd/stones/animals/jimi hendrix/little stevie wonder/the jackson five and so on. There were 3 djs, jimmy saville, dave booth and dave eager. I'm still in touch with afew of the old gang but wonder if anyone else is out there? I was known as lol back then. I'm still giddy, not grown up yet. Great 2 see a belle vue page-people just don't realise what an affect and influence it had on our lives back then......


Good morning, I just had to say what a gem of a site ,I lived just the other side of the outerwall on Kirkmansulme Lane between 1949 and 1962 so spent a lot of time in Belle Vue, especially lookin and riding the steam railway and the bobs,Im now in my fifties,so to see this brings all the good times back,Im especially interested in seeing the steam locomotives again and plan to visit ALL of them next year,what started out as a search for a couple of books on Belle Vue for my Dad ,as unearthed a wealth of info ,thank you David for putting together a fascinating insight into what was In my opinion the forrunner of todays theme parks,perhaps tame by todays standards but neverthe less,it was still fascinating at the time,

thanks again,
Antony Bielby.

My name is Belinda Norris. I came across your website in serach of my Jennison ancestors. William Jennison married Anne Garbutt 22 April 1834 at St Oversitten, Yorkshire. They had 4 children: Charles Just Jennison, Alfred Jennison, Jane Jennison, Fanny Jennison. I was wondering if you have ever come across these names before? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Belinda Norris

Hi David,

Incredible site!! I used to work with my pal Macca Emery in the sideshow
"The Abominable Snowman" and the "Brooklyn Clowns" pre 1971(ish) Spent all
summer hols & week-ends there. I am a Gorton lad, visit my website: BV is on there as well.

Austin Knight
Comedian & After Dinner Speaker

Dear David Boardman

I have just had a look around your excellent website and enjoyed it very much. We have added it to the Miscellaneous Links page of Joyland (the online bookstore for amusement park books). You or your visitors might be interested to know that Joyland Books stocks the largest selection of Belle Vue books and videos on the Internet. If you were able to link back to Joyland, that would be very much appreciated. Keep up the good work!


Nick Laister
Joyland Books

Gary, Ann & Isabel Radice

Hello David
A wonderful site it brought the memories flooding
back.Family days out in the 50s,then out with the gang in the 60s for the Speedway.We lived in Wythenshaw,and got the bus to Moss Side,then caught the 53 to Belle Vue.
Happy days,I remember the Scenic Railway,The Catapiller,
and so much more,my favourite for some stange reason was
the Flea Circus!
All the best

Frank Riley
Weston Super Mare
North Somerset

Hi David!

Yours is a truly great web site..although I never went to the park, one of my biggest coaster regrets in life as I approach the dreaded big four oh! is that I never got to ride the Bobs..I heard that Geoffrey Thompson was offered it at Southport but room was of a premium...a great shame!!

Somehow my pictures of Vikingar look better on your site than my own!!: bits of the beach <> (a tribute to Blackpool Pleasure Beach)..but hey, that's showbiz!!..feel free to use any pictures that you may want from my site although, other than Vikingar, how they would fit in with Belle Vue is anyone's guess!!..oh, and I've linked your site on the blackpool ride bits <> section of the site.

Keep up the good work,


Lovely website. Its great to see the pictures and reading everyones e-mails. In the sixties I lived across the road from BV in Greenwood House flats on Kirkmanshulme Lane (across the road from Central Grammer which I used to attend)(my primary school was Stanley Grove). In the late 60's while I was at college I worked in BV at weekends. You could either work for BV itself or get a job with one of the privately owned rides. I did both in my time there. Working on the Water Chute. Bobs and Scenic Railway for BV. I also worked for the Wadbrooks (whom I saw that Steve Barton mentioned) amongst other things they ran the Dodgems and Waltzer. What would BV be worth now if it was a going concern ??? Like one persons e-mail said, 'it deserved better than being turned into a car sales pitch and a few houses'.

Best wishes
Steve Hardie


I have just logged on the Belle Vue site and must congratulate you for a fascinating insight into the zoo and other activities. My links with Belle Vue are that my father was on of the founder members of the Belle Vue Aquarist Society along with Gerald Iles and others I believe not long after the last war. Being society members we had free passes (little red books similar to the old driving licences) and living close by on St. Johns Road Longsight, we used to visit the zoo most weekends, me mother being an avid animal lover. We quite often were allowed "backstage" of the animal enclosures. Every year, a large exhibition was held with aquarist societies from all over having stands with displays, typically with tanks of fish set in excostic surroundings.

Gerald Iles was a friend of the family and he took one of our kittens (Smokey) which he had for many years and took it when he moved to Montreal zoo. We used to receive cards from him usually with a picture of Smokey attached. My most vivid recollection of the fireworks was as yours 'The Storming of Quebec'. I could just about see and hear the fireworks from my bedroom window. I also went to speedway for several seasons when Ron Johnson, Ken Sharples and later Peter Craven were riding. We would wear a hat, scarf coat and goggles and stand by the fence on a corner to get "sprayed". I remember the stadium being full every week, and crazy nights. My first visit to the track was Jack Parker's last night I seem to remember.

My last links with Belle Vue are that I played with Shep's Banjo Boys at the Lake Hotel and the Golden Garter and used to rehearse in one of the old buildings near to the Hyde Road entrance. I do have some photos of various things at Belle Vue and can download them for your information if you wish. I am 56 and hold many happy memories of Belle Vue. Thanks.

Charlie Bentley

I've just seen your Belle Vue site! My father was Hobo Toby - principal
clown at Belle Vue Circus in the 50's - he opened the circus shadowing
George Lockhart and conducted the opening overture! I have many many memories of the place. In the summer he rode the Globe of Death in the Funfair - I grew up in the circus and have lots of photographs. Interested in getting in touch?

Regards Laurence Staig

Dear David,

I thought I'd drop a line to say how I'd enjoyed reading your web site on Belle Vue.My mum worked in the zoo when she left school & used to tell me & my brother all sorts of tales of the place. I know she has a photo somewhere that appeared in the Daily Mirror with her & an owl from the Zoo.

I grew up in Bury, but we used to go to the Amusement Park & Zoo on a regular basis. In about 1974 my mum started taking us to the Speedway, whilst my Dad went ballroom dancing at the CIS in Manchester. Looking back you'd have thought it would have been the other way around, but my Dad didn't like sport.

The Speedway was a magical place for 2 young boys, the noise ,the smell, the crowds, the muck. Saturday night wouldn't be Saturday night if you didn't go home covered in muck. We'd try & hide behind the Programme clipboard to protect ourselves but you'd still get plastered in it. I remember sitting on the steps of the stand of the 3rd bend staring over at the plastic seats in the stand at the start-line, wishing I could be sat with the wealthy supporters.

I went to Hyde Rd until it closed & then saw one meeting at Kirky Lane, the place just didn't have the same atmosphere. I then drifted off into other things & almost forgot about Belle Vue altogether. It wasn't until one Saturday in summer 2000,that is was reading the Manchester Evening News that i saw an advert for Speedway on the Sunday. I bundled my wife & son in the car & headed for Kirky Lane telling them tales of this magical place where I'd spent my Saturday nights as a child. When we got there, we were greeted by what can only be described as a dump. One on the stands had gone & the place just looked as if it were derelict, my family were less than impressed. I however have continued to go & support the Aces at home & when possible away. With home crowds of about 1500 people instead of the 4000 plus I guess they used to get, it still seems that Belle Vue is on the decline after all these years. Whenever I mention to anyone that I go to the Speedway at Belle Vue the standard replies are "I didn't even know it was still going" & " I used to go there". It just seems that Belle Vue has got lost in time & just needs somebody with enthusiasm & money to dust it off & bring it out of the closet, I know without the zoo, amusement park, ballrooms & wrestling it would never be same but I'd like to think that someone would like to breath life into what's left.

I hope these ramblings don't send you to sleep, I just thought the memories of a child brought up at Belle Vue may be of interest.
Yours Sincerely.
Neil Edgar

Dear David,
I have just discovered your website and found it most interesting. George Jennison - the last one -was married to a Gabrielle Ducoroy, a French lady. Gabrielle was the sister of my Grandfather, Eugene Emil Ducoroy. There was also another Jennison, Angelo, whom I think was a cousin of George`s. He married my Grandmother`s sister (Grandmother was called Edith and she married Eugene). All very complicated! I do not have many memories of Belle Vue. We lived in Burnage. But my Mother, Jeanne, was born and bred in Longsight. She is 89 now, but still remembers having free rides on all the amusements, being one of the family, and being told by one of the attendants to "go away. You`ve had enough free rides now!" I will copy out parts of your website and show them to Mother.
Best wishes,

T & E.Parry,
Llandudno, North Wales,

I used to go with my school (St James R C Boys) Pendleton Salford every June 29th. One year about 1952 I fell into the main boating lake headfirst. I was a non swimmer. would any record have been kept of this event.? About 1957 I used to go dancing in the 3 ballrooms with a bar in-between each ballroom. It was very sad to see the zoo close. I remember the Baboons looking very hungry.

Happy memories!!

John Nilan


I live in Melbourne Australia, and I was visiting the Virtual Manchester website when I found a link to Belle vue. I gew up in Longsight/West Gorton
and then Middleton. We lived for a number of years in Coalburn Street which was on the other side of the car park for Belle vue ( I remember when the
car park was built) we used to watch the fireworks display from the upstairs windows every Saturday night, it was magic. Later when we moved to Middleton, my great Aunt still lived in Coalburn Street so the contact continued and I worked part time in the Cloakroom of the New Elizabethan Ballrom in 1967/68. we had a great bunch of people working there and the job was fun! We also saw some really good groups at the Top Ten Club (we worked
Friday,Saturday and Sunday nights) and there was a bus direct to Langley after the ballroom closed on each of those nights as indeed there were
busses to several locations. Thanks for the happy memories being recalled.

Carole Lloyd-Flanders (formerly Brennan)

Hello David

I have logged on your site many times since finding it some months ago and have been meaning to write for some time.

I grew up in Sale, Cheshire, in the 1950/60s and have many happy memories of Belle Vue. Sadly I have very few photos but those I do have I would be happy to send you and you are welcome to use them in the website if you would like to! I will dig them out.

I was at Belle Vue the day the funhouse burned down in October 1963 (I only know the date because I found a photo of it in a book recently). I was there with my parents and although I was only 5 at the time I do remember the fire engines rushing in and all the mayhem etc. Earlier that day I had wanted to go in and I remember them taking me to the entrance and walking up a sort of slope, but it was dark and I can recall being absolutely terrified and screaming to come out!! That same day it burned down and I always thought I had known somehow that something was about to happen, I was so scared (looking back as an adult I was probably just scared of the dark!!).

My favourite place was the Indian Grotto, it always seemed huge and mysterious to me as a child, although in reality it was probably very small!

I now live in Preston, which is about 30 miles from Manchester and, as you know, Belle Vue is no more (apart from yet another bland housing estate). I have been past several times and always feel sad that it does not exist anymore and the fun I and thousands of people have had is gone forever.

Bye for now

Mari Buckley (Miss)

It was a pleasure visiting Belle Vue, I have many good memories, my Grandmother worked there in the restaurant.....
I had a ride on the BOBS for nothing because my friend decided not to at the last minute....



great site it takes me back to when i worked at Belle Vue in the 70s I lived in the Belle Vue area and went to school on Hyde Road in nearby Ardwick. I used to work after school and weekends in the zoo shop. when you worked there you obtained a pass which enabled you free access to all the park my mates used to let me on the rides for free and we used to get in the concerts to see all the top stars of the day Rod Stewart, Elton John etc. we also used to go in the ballroom to the disco called the Scooby Doo.

Thanks again

Dear Mr Boardman,

I'm trying to piece together my father's family history, and in doing so have obtained a copy of my grandmother's 1926 marriage certificate on which her registered address is given as ...

Edith Faulkner
Longsight Entrance, Belle Vue.

I have been using your fantastic site to learn more about the Longsight area, but cannot see how any residential houses could have the address of Longsight Entrance, Belle Vue. Are you aware of any housing in the area which might have had this address around 1926. There is no house number given.

As this is an intriguing address, any insight you could give me would be very valuable.

Thanks in advance - and thanks for a wonderful local history site.

Regards, Denise Kleine


Thanks for your site. I have lived away from Manchester for 15 years or so now but recently Belle Vue came up in conversation with some London Youngsters well under 30 at least and they didn't believe that Manchester had a zoo.

Good site and thanks again

Kevin Doona
PC Solutions and Support Ltd

Many thanks for your excellent website.

I am a Mancunian now living in Victoria. Australia.

I was brought up in Rusholme, just a short ride on the 53 to Belle Vue and spent many, many happy days there. Boxing Day was our traditional family day to BV and the circus. I can remember the fireworks and the old Elizabethan before the fire ( I am 51)

I later worked in the Lake Hotel and New Elizabethan Ballroom and spent many happy nights there, firstly selling cokes then operating the stage lighting. With the money I made, I saved up to buy a saxophone and then joined a local group. We played in the New Eliabethan and later the Top Ten Club - revolving around on the stage with Jimmy Saville. A good feeling, I can assure you, for a local lad.

This may sound a little odd but one of my favourite "reads" is The Belle Vue story by Robert Nicholls - I must have read it six or seven times and, after reading your site to-night - will probably start it again tomorrow.

I am very interested in the local music scene around 68 to 72 and am working on a personal site which I hope will add further to the readily available history of our lives. It has worked a little for me, with contacts already from old friends living as far afield as Canada, USA and, of course, the UK. This marvellous internet bridges not only distance but time.

Thanks once again for your site - I am off to read about Longsight now. I used to train spot at the sheds!

Paul Mlynarz

Wow what memories, I happened upon your site whilst browsing. The pictures brought back memories of 40 years ago when I was a ten year old. That day trip to Belle Vue made a lasting impression on me. I particularly remember the boat rides and the water chute. I intend to search the family photo album for more reminders of that day. Well done and thanks.

Jeff Cheetham,
102 Marjorie Road
Chaddesden, Derby

Hi David

Just been browsing your excellent Belle Vue site, very good! Unfortunately I never made it to Belle Vue myself but I do have some further info on the Steam Railway which you may find of some interest. Four different steam locomotives worked at Belle Vue over the years:

"Railway Queen" built in 1921. Worked at Belle Vue between 1928 and 1977. It then went to the railway at Rhyl for 10 years before going on static display at James Pringle Weavers at Llanfair PG, Anglesey, North Wales. It can still be seen there today.

"George the Fifth" built in 1911. Worked at Belle Vue between 1938 and 1965. Previously ran at the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend. On leaving Belle Vue it was restored back to running order and went to operate at Steamtown Railway Museum in Carnforth, Lancashire. It ran there until last year when it was sold to a buyer in the USA.

"Synolda" built in 1912. Worked at Belle Vue between 1939 and ??. Also ran at the Kursaal Amusement Park before coming to Belle Vue. Left Belle Vue at unknown date. Now kept on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in Cumbria and kept in fully restored condition.

"Joan" built 1920. Worked at Belle Vue between 1970 and 1977. Spent the previous 50 years running on the Marine Lake Railway at Rhyl. Upon leaving Belle Vue it went back to Rhyl again. It can be still be seen running there today, still happily pulling holidaymakers around the Marine Lake track.

On the subject of the rides, the small steel Pinfari coaster at Belle Vue ('The Jet Stream') moved to Rhyl Amusement Park upon closure. The last time I was in Rhyl (early 1990s) it was still there. The water chute obviously went to Blackpool but I believe it's since been scrapped. Identical water chutes were also installed at Margate, Porthcawl and Great Yarmouth.

I hope this helps!


Re: Belle Vue and Longsight Web Sites

Browsing both sites very interesting. My Father worked at Belle Vue for approximately 17 yrs up to the early 70's Mother worked at Longsight railway for about the same period of time. I have attached a photograph of the boats on the fireworks lake. The tall gentleman who is stood almost directly inline with the left of the two minarets on the rockery is my Father - Kenneth Mathew Knowles, there is a lady to his left.

Apart from the boats he also ran the Helter Skelter which was sited to the left and behind the rockery in the photograph. I will try and locate some more photographs and see if my Father can remember any details you might be interested in.

We remember Syd Lane, Raymond Legge and several other BV notables.

We have lived just outside Melbourne Australia since the late 70's so we have lost touch, although I have been back to Manchester several times, mainly for work, the last time being in early 1999.

Thanks for making the effort to put together the site and best wishes for the future. Please feel free to reply, which would be appreciated.

Best regards
Albert Knowles
Mount Martha Victoria

Many thanks for bringing back so many fond memories of my childhood most of which was spent at Belle Vue.

D J Vasquez

Just found your Belle Vue speedway tribute site - very good - brought back lots of memories. I started going there in '58. (In case you are unaware, the photo titled "Smell those fumes..." is of Dick Fisher and Soren Sjosten.)

Alan Beard

Hello David,

Have visited your WONDERFUL site, and the memories came flooding back to me. Born in Bradford, not far from Belle Vue, I could not get to sleep on a Saturday night, as Sunday was to be spent at Belle Vue with mum and dad, brother and sister. From 9-00am. We were asking our parents "Is it time to go yet" sandwiches and flask in carrier bag, we set off. Caught the number 53 bus, and 10 or 15 minutes later arrived at entrance, If it were a nice sunny day we would walk there this being in the 50`s/60`s. See all the animals, had our picnic, then into the amusement park, all us kids crying when it was time to go home, but there was always next week.

Loved going to the Speedway on my own in the 60`s,Stockcars was my favourite, after going into the fun park. Was a member of THE TOP TEN CLUB from 1964 til 1969 great dancing to the pop groups of the 60`s and Jimmy Saville was a great d.j. could you find more articles of this club?

Family moved from Bradford in 1976,we now live in Abbey Hey, not too far from the old site of Belle Vue. I`m aged 52 now, but the memory of Belle Vue will always remind me of my childhood days.

Thanks again David, and look forward to more additions to your site.

Kindest Regards


Dear David,

I really had a pleasant surprise here in Washington DC discovering your excellent web site about Belle Vue, on my wife's computer. I was born in 1950 in Crumpsall Hospital and lived at 7 Belle Vue Street, next door to West Gorton Library and right opposite the Gorton Brook Hotel, until 1960. It was a great treat for me to go to Belle Vue as a kid. My family had an allotment on a plot near where they built the ambulance station and on summer Saturday evenings I used to hear the roar of the speedway when we went to dig up up vegetables for Sunday dinner, but didn't get to see it until I was 16. The allotment was hangover from WWII. As a school kid at St Francis, Gorton and later St Gregory's Ardwick Green, I often got let into the zoo for free. When I was older I was a keen Motor cyclist and followed the Aces avidly.

Keep up the good work

Steve Doherty

Hello David

What a wonderful sight. Have you got or will you be doing a page for the Brass Bands?? I am very interested. I have a grgrgrandfather that was
single cornet player for the Rifle Volunteers Clayton-le-Moor Brass Band. In 1883 they won the competition or several prizes one of which was an
electro-plated cornet. Wondered if you had any photos, or could put me on to anyone that might have further records or information.

Thank you


Hi David,

I was Sales Manager at Belle Vue from April 1976 to July 1978. Those were traumatic times at Belle Vue and the pressures of the "bottom line" and the
parks value to (or more realistically) drain on the profit figures of THF Leisure Ltd., had become more important than maintenance, providing what the
public required or offering Manchester and the North West a playground worthy of the locality.

I have many reminiscences of my time there and would be happy to contribute what I can.

For now, I can solve the mystery of the circus tent on Redgate Lane car park.

If you look closely at the Atkinson van, you will be able to discern the words "Gerry Cottles Circus".

In 1977, Gerry Cottle came to an agreement with Chris Hind, General Manager, to erect his new tent on the site to test it prior to shipping it to the Middle East, where it was to be used for a tour.

The erection also served the purpose of evaluating a tent as a possible replacement for Kings Hall which, apart from horrendous maintenance costs, caused continual headaches in regard to fire precautions.

I remember a couple of excellent evenings in the company of Gerry Cottle and, if my memory is correct, it was this tent that got his daughters
established as circus performers in their own right.

Best wishes,

Phil Blinkhorn

Dear David

i have spent many hours looking around your belle vue site and would just like to say how much i have enjoyed it. is there a picture of the main entrance on hyde road in the 60s or 70s ? as a teenager i worked for slack & cox which was situated on redgate lane not far from belle vue, have you heard of it or do you have any pictures of it?

thanks again

james moloney 


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