STANLEY, in north-west Durham, once had its own zoo. It was established in the grounds of Harperley Hall, midway between Stanley and Annfield Plain, in 1966. It is believed to have been one of the first enterprises of animal trainer Martin Lacey, who became well known for running circuses and for training the tigers used in the 1970s adverts for Esso – "put a tiger in your tank".

However, he and his dancing bear only lasted a couple of years at Stanley Zoo. In 1968, it was taken over by Flamingo Park Zoo of Malton in North Yorkshire – now known as Flamingoland – and it was renamed Pelican Park Zoo. Out went the dancing bear and in came Major the tame young lion – he had been hand-reared by the curator at Flamingo Park Zoo and now moved north to Stanley to become the star attraction.

It was hoped that the zoo would draw 150,000 visitors a year – its proximity to the conurbation of Tyneside was presumably why it opened in this out-of-the-way location.

It clearly didn't work because it closed in December 1971. Perhaps the final nail in its coffin was the drive-through lion safari park just down the road at Lambton Castle which was due to open in 1972 – we'll look in the archive and see if we have any pictures of that for another week.

In the meantime, if you have any memories of, or can shed any light on, Stanley Zoo, please email