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Largs Zoo

largs zoo
bathing station

Amazing as it sounds Largs did have a very popular Zoo up until 1968. It was based at the Old bathing station on the prom which was built in 1926 and provided changing facilities for brave Clyde swimmers. Much later when the facilities became less popular a local man called Frank Roche hired the southern half of the bathing station which was a long two level building leading down to the beach.

There were three monkeys named Hing, Doon and Bimbo. Various tropical birds and a huge tortoise called Odd Job which was claimed was over 100 years old. At the Zoo exit there was a sign which said "The most dangerous animal in the world" It was hung over a mirror.

In 1965 one of the zoo's monkeys called Bimbo escaped. Apparently this was a common occurrence and Bimbo became very good at planning and executing regular escapes. On this occasion Bimbo did a runner along the Prom after someone opened the exit door. A few brave zoo visitors chased after Bimbo and caught up with him shortly after. Obviously Bimbo was not very chuffed at his capture as he proceeded bite one of his capturers on the leg.

Poor Frank Roche was charged after the incident for not properly securing a dangerous animal. He was fined £2. It is not known what punishment poor old Bimbo received. As it turned out Bimbo had previous form. A year earlier he escaped from the zoo and was later found sitting in a pram in Brisbane Street with a new pal who turned out to be a 6 week old baby.

However by 1967 time was running out for Frank, Hing, Doon, Bimbo and Odd Job at the Zoo as the Council had decided to demolish the building which by then was becoming an eye sore and spoiling the open view of the bay. Discussions between Frank and the council continued for a while with Frank submitting plans for upgrades to the building.

Frank was eventually given notice to leave by May 1968. An extension was later granted to September 1968. Alternative locations were discussed one being the at Aubery Crescent however a lack of interest from the local council put an end to the venture.

The top left photo shows the complete building with the Zoo on the left section. The photo above shows the building from the beach side
boating shed
largs zoo advert
The image on the left is an old Largs and Millport Advert for the Zoo kindly provided by Bill-Ali White. The wee boy pushing Bimbo in the pram is Bill-Ali himself. Frank Roche himself is also seen holding Bimbo.

The two images above have been supplied by Alison Warnatzsch and show Alison as a small girl at the zoo playing with Bimbo