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The Mottershead family move to Oakfield Estate

By Chester Zoo

At the centre of the nine acre estate was the magnificent Oakfield House built by a wealthy tea merchant and former Lord mayor of Chester Benjamin Chafers Roberts.

By the time the Mottershead family had grown, George and Elizabeth had a second daughter June, born in 1926. Once they moved into the house they began their exciting plans to build their new zoo.

The first enclosures were built in the stable yard. And a polar bear moved in!

The locals were absolutely horrified, imagining the animals were going to escape and rampage through their peaceful neighbourhood. Indeed there was so much opposition from the locals that an official enquiry was ordered. The Mottersheads had to hire a very expensive barrister and the case for and against the zoo was painfully played out in public. Eventually the Ministry of Health granted permission for the zoo to open in April 1931 but the family had narrowly missed the chance of opening for the busy Easter period and had to wait until June to welcome their first visitors.

See more: Mottershead Family