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The Elephant Trail

Hull Elephant Trail
The Elephant Trail

I have always been interested in history especially local history and over the years I’ve learnt a lot about Hull and the East Riding. But until now I had no idea that in the mid 19th century there were elephants amongst other exotic animals living in Hull. In 1840 the Hull Zoological Gardens were opened and was situated at the bottom of Spring Bank, where Princes Avenue and Springbank West meet. There were 7 acres of ornamental gardens with two lakes and a zoo with a variety of exotic animals including tigers, wolves, pelicans, polar bears, monkey’s, kangaroos, hippo’s and elephants. The elephants were housed at the top of Spring Bank, (where the Travel Lodge is now). Every morning the keepers would walk the elephants down Spring Bank to their enclosure at the zoo. Apparently on their way, there was a bakery where they made ginger bread amongst other breads and cakes and one of the female elephants couldn’t resist the smell wafting from the bakery, so she would break free from the other elephants and squeeze herself into the open doorway and steal some of the cakes and biscuits. I can imagine it must of been a pretty awesome sight for anyone walking down Spring Bank at the time.

Then in the early 2000’s, a local artist and residents decided to design ‘The Elephant Trail‘. The trail starts at the top of Spring Bank, where the Travel Lodge is, to Albany Street down Spring Bank. It consists of a collection of paving stones which have carvings of elephants on them, which were designed by local school children. Down Albany Street there is a statue of a hippo called Bucheet, who was very popular at the zoo, with the words River Horse engraved on the front, this apparently is where one of the entrances to the zoo was. There are also wire sculptures of bears hanging from the street lights. So now I know how The Polar Bear and the Zoological pubs got their names from.

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