Belle Vue Zoological Gardens was a large zoo, amusement park, exhibition hall complex and speedway stadium in Gorton, Manchester which opened in 1836 and entertained the masses of the city and its surrounding area for a century and a half.
The venue began as gardens for “genteel” people to stroll in but amusement park rides were added from the 1870s onwards and grew in such numbers that by the early twentieth century, the site was advertised as the "showground of the world”. Firework displays began in 1852 and a Christmas Fair from 1922. The King’s Hall opened in 1910 and hosted such diverse events as the Halle Orchestra, rock groups, circuses and professional wrestling. The zoo, which was begun by the founder of the gardens, John Jennison, was at one time the third largest in the country.
At its peak, Belle Vue occupied 165 acres and attracted over two million visitors a year but competition, fires, vandalism and financial losses started to sound the death knell for the resort from the 1960s onwards. The zoo closed in 1977 and the amusement park in 1980. The land was sold in 1982, and the site finally cleared in 1987 mainly for residential housing and industrial buildings. All that remains of Belle Vue today is a greyhound racing stadium and a snooker hall built in the stadium's car park.
The park was a key choice for a day out for many of Coronation Street’s residents in its heyday and even into its latter days. Elsie Tanner and Florrie Lindley attended a function there on Easter Monday 1962 and in June 1965 Elsie went again, this time in the company of Len Fairclough. A heart-stopping moment occurred for the Barlows in May 1969 when Edith Tatlock lost her two grandchildren Peter and Susan there but they were found by a Mrs Allendale and returned safely home.
Billy Walker took his girlfriend Lorna Shawcross there for the day in June 1971 while Elsie’s grandson Paul Cheveski was given the treat of a day there in March 1972, the last known visit by anyone in the street to the attraction.
- A waxwork display of characters from the programme was opened at Belle Vue in 1962. The TV Times issue of 21st to 27th October pictured Arthur Leslie, Margot Bryant and Violet Carson visiting them.
- The gardens was used for a major photoshoot in 1970 for pictures of the cast - dressed in character - visiting the park for use in the 1000th Episode TV Times Souvenir.