The story of Blackbrook Zoological Bird Park started back in 1946 when my grandfather invited his good friend
Sir Peter Scott for dinner at his home in Cheshire; he brought with him a pair of teal as a present for my grandmother.
My grandfather and Sir Peter quickly became good friends, and whilst serving in the navy together, they shared many
conversations centred on their love of Wildfowl.
The original collection at Clough in Hale, Cheshire began soon after.
My grandfather was kept extremely busy as the Company Chairman at the helm of Refuge Life Insurance in Manchester; this left my grandmother looking after their collection of birds. Unfortunately she was more comfortable with life on the cruise ships and wearing furs, she was certainly never keen to look after the birds, eventually she asked my mother Diana to take the reins and care for the collection.
Clough waterfowl, as it was now known, was home to some 20 species, and a breeding success was achieved with many, my mother Diana was one of the very first breeders to breed red breasted geese, some of which even went to the London palaces, she certainly was in her comfort zone with the birds unlike my grandmother.
In 1968 I was born and my mother had her hands full looking after not only a baby but the growing collection of birds. In the mid seventies, my grandparents, both passed away and the Clough was sold and my parents moved to Mobberley with an acre of land called Hillside, this was when the first pen was built and the birds moved from the Clough into a new era.
It was at this time that mum allowed me to have my first guinea pig and pekin bantams, she certainly lived to regret it!
All of my time was spent helping mum with the birds, and I dreamed of one day owning a bird park.
Upon leaving school, and after many family visits to Birdland in Bourton-on-the-water, I had a vision to create a mini bird land at home at Hillside.
After a year spent landscaping, planting and developing our home, we opened Hillside to the public in 1985 on a cold Easter Sunday, we sat in a wooden hut waiting for our first visitors to arrive and were overjoyed when they did. By the end of 1985 we were attracting 300 visitors a year and amassing an impressive collection of rare waterfowl species that included; Magpie geese, white-headed stiff-tail, Flamingos and, most impressively, six species of penguin that ranged from the King penguin to Rockhoppers. It was perhaps with the latter species that brought our most prized breeding success.
In 1986 we bought the neighbouring property, and some land from the local farmer to enable us to expand,and we turned the house into an entrance building, shop and tea-room. Then became our latest challenge of penguins and flamingos, my mum was being swept along with the thought of ‘why did I let him get that first guinea pig!’ I have since not been without cavies/ G pigs, and succeeding in amassing one of the most
successful studs of cavies in the country, with numerous best in show wins.