New home needed for unique concrete zoo made in Northumberland in 1930s and 40s

The owner of one of the most unusual gardens in Britain – created for a disabled child in Branxton, Northumberland, many years ago – is looking for a buyer for more than 200 animal sculptures.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 1:30 pm
The zoological garden at Branxton was created in the 1930s and 40s. Picture courtesy of Hansons Auctioneers.

Samantha Brattisani is hoping someone will come to the rescue to offer a new home for a colourful and quirky concrete menagerie featuring everything from donkeys and cows to giraffes and goats. There are also a few human figures, including former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

The zoological garden was created in the 1930s and 40s by her great uncle John Fairnington for his disabled son, Edwin.

Samantha, 47, said: “My great uncle made the animals to get Edwin to go into the garden – and it worked. He loved it.

The garden has a wide range of concrete animals. Picture courtesy of Hansons Auctioneers.

“I remember seeing it for the first time when I was three and being enthralled by it.

“Over the years, thousands of people have visited the garden. It became a popular tourist attraction. We’ve had bus-loads of school children, people who returned year after year, even Alan Titchmarsh.

“But, due to ill health and the loss of my parents, I can no longer maintain the garden or welcome visitors. I’m disabled due to back problems and can only stand for a few minutes. My walker is too wide for the paths in the garden. I need to alter it and that means parting with the animals.

“It will hurt to see them go. I hope a safari park, leisure attraction or stately home might give them a new home.

There are also a few human figures, including former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Picture courtesy of Hansons Auctioneers.

“I’d like to visit them, wherever they land. If I can’t find a buyer, sadly, the land will still have to be cleared to make the garden suit my limited mobility.”

She has tasked Hansons Auctioneers with finding a buyer. The unique collection will be offered as one lot at a special auction on October 26. The seller is open to reasonable offers.

Rik Alexander, sale manager, said: “We’re on a mission to save a concrete menagerie that reminds us of Noah’s Ark.

“Surely someone can breathe new life into this display. It’s quirky, unique and a labour of love.”

To inquire about the collection, email [email protected]