Withdean Stadium and Zoo

Wed 14 Jun 2017

 

Originally opened in 1937 it consisted of eleven hard tennis courts, ten grass courts and four squash racket courts. At that time the Brighton & Hove Herald  described it as the new Wimbledon, but residents did not seem to have much interest in tennis.

 

Used as a Mortuary during the war it was re-launched as the Brighton Olympic Stadium. The zoo was opened in 1948 by the film star Jean Simmonds however some wallabies escaped and were found in a neighbours garden. Thinking back it was at the zoo that I had my first recollections as a child. I can remember sitting up in my perambulator and I can remember there were bears and wolves. The wolves I believe were not popular with locals as their howling could be heard for quite a distance. The zoo closed in 1952 and was reconstructed as an athletics venue in 1955. Steve Ovett opened the all weather track in 1980 and Brighton & Hove Albion used the stadium from 1999 until moving to the Amex in 2011. Who knows what might be in store for the stadium in the future.