The City Of Chester
The ancient walled city of Chester was founded by the Romans in AD79 – the same year Pompeii and Herculaneum disappeared under the eruption of Vesuvius.
Today the city boasts Chester Cathedral whose first beginnings may stretch back to Roman times, the Norman-era Chester Castle, a number of medieval buildings, and an array of striking Victorian architecture. Visitors and locals enjoy views of the River Dee and walking down to Chester Canal, which was opened in 1779 during the Industrial Revolution.
Chester City Walls were started by the Romans, improved by the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, had their circuit completed by the 12th Century, and were further fortified for the English Civil War of 1642–1651.
Chester City Walls are unsuitable for families with children, prams & pushchairs, wheelchairs. But if you are physically able, you can still walk along the elevated walkway along the wall for almost 2 miles (3.2 km), which forms almost a complete circuit of the city as it was in the medieval era. Chester City Walls are maintained by the public sector, so entrance is free.
Chester Zoo was opened in Upton, Cheshire, by George Mottershead in 1934. Today it’s run by a registered charity called The North of England Zoological Society, or NEZS for short. They also have a conservation charity preventing the extinction of thousands of species in more than 30 countries.
Chester Zoo is spread across 125 acres (51 hectares), making it one of the UK’s largest zoos, although it has a total land holding of approximately 400 acres (160 hectares).
In 2018 1.9 million visitors came to Chester Zoo, making it the most visited wildlife attraction in Britain.
The zoo doesn’t receive any government funding. Ticket prices maintain the running of the zoo, care of its animals, and conservation work worldwide. In 2019 you can gain entry for as little as £20 for adults and £15.75 for children if you buy online advance tickets. Children aged 2 and under are free!
Not surprisingly, old footage of Chester is frequently about the zoo.
Chester Through The Ages
10 Dec 2008 – MerseysideDVDs “Chester Memories in evocative moving pictures – capturing the favorite haunts of today and yesterday. See the city as the world has loved it down the years.
What was Chester like in the 1930s? This video uses recently discovered film from the 1920s up to the present day. Chester is shown in CORONATION YEAR OF 1937. The New Gate is shown under construction and on the river, boat trips are offered by men in smart naval uniform. Pupils from the Cathedral School are seen complete with mortarboards. In 1929 an electric tram has stopped in Eastgate for passengers. In 1932 we take a look at Chester Carnival on the Roodee and in 1963 people are SKATING AND WALKING ON THE FROZEN RIVER DEE. We see the changes over 60 years together with some film of Chester in recent times.”
5 October 2010 – anipsl: Photographs of Old Wirral & Chester 1900-1950
13 Aug 2015 – thejoesmoe: A Montage of The Old Market & Town Hall, Chester.
VideotoDVDWirral: “Cine film of vintage vehicles and transport from the 1960’s – 1980’s in Wallasey, Birkenhead, Chester and New Brighton. Featuring old Buses, Cars, Trucks, Milk Float, Fire Engine, Motorbikes, Blackpool Tram and the Royal Iris Ferry Boat.
Clip features Wallasey Road, Martin’s Lane, Woodchurch Road, Hinderton Road, Valkyrie Road. J, Kent Auctioneers, Worthingtons, No 2B Bus Wallasey Corporation, MPTE, Huddlestons Butcher, Honda ss50 Motorbike, fizzies, Atlantean Bus, Midibus.”
29 Aug 2014 – Chester Zoo: “To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Chester Zoo as a charity, we’re taking a look back through time and sharing some of our special memories. June Williams, George Mottershead’s daughter, has shared some of her memories of Chester Zoo with us.”
20 Oct 2011 – Leaderlive
ReelNostalgia : “Postcards and photos of Eaton Hall located in Cheshire which was demolished back in 1961.”
Chester In The 1920s
Thekinolibrary – : “1920s Chester street scenes, rare home movie footage.”
thekinolibrary: “Black and white 16mm home movie footage from Chester City centre, UK, in the 1920s showing the hustle and bustle of the town and its inhabitants.”
thekinolibrary “Black and white footage form the 1920s in the UK showing road construction work taking place in Chester town centre with the traffic management and street scenes.”
British Pathé – Horse racing at Chester in Cheshire. Full titles read: “The Chester Cup – Big crowds at famous meeting on the Roodeye”. “Various shots large crowds and horse race meeting. M/S of horses and jockeys being in warm up before the start of the race, a steam train can be seen passing by in the background. L/S of the race getting under way. Numerous shots of the race in progress. M/S of crowd leaning against the fence.”
British Pathé: Item title reads – The Chester Cup. “Chivalrous” – for the second year in succession – wins by a length from “Happy Man.” “L/S of lots of people in the stands and milling about in front. M/S of the horses being led along with their jockeys. Various shots of the race, the camera follows the horses round. M/S of the winner, the jockey smiles.”
British Pathé: Regatta – Chester, Cheshire. “Team on dock lifting boat into water; provides interesting view inside boat; seats; footstraps; etc. The 4-man team start rowing. Various shots of boats rowing on River Dee. Scenic BG. Motorboat passing. Also a sculling race (1-man boats); while small crowd of people watch from shore or boats.”
Chester In The 1930s
British Pathé – Titles read: “A bulwark of the Legions – Chester”, Cheshire. “Various shots of the city of Chester, showing the numerous half-timbered houses with elaborate carved panels, the famous clock tower and ‘rows’ – the walkways that run along the second storey of shops on the main streets. We also see the town hall and Cathedral, and then several shots of the walls that run around the whole city and people walking along them. The final shot shows the River Dee with the city in the distance.”
British Pathé – Unused / unissued material – no paperwork – dates unclear or unknown. Appears to be a mute copy of PT 237 08/10/34. Title reads: “A Bulwark of the Legions – Chester”, Cheshire.
“Various views in the city of Chester. Shots of the timber frame houses and shops. Shots of people walking along old walkways . Shots of Church and Cathedral. CU Cobble stones. Views of remains of Roman walls. Views of bridge and and river…“Chester was a Roman stronghold and retains many of the features – parts of the city look the same today.”
Chester In The 1940s
British Pathé – Chester Zoo, Cheshire. “Various shots of a terrier dog and a lion together at the zoo. Various shots of a lioness with her 14 week old cubs. M/S of two polar bears. Various shots of bears, a monkey, parrots and bison who are grazing in the fields. Millicent the keeper walks up and smiles, she feeds the dingoes. A man throws some food into the bear pit. M/S of two wolves, M/S of a peahen and peacock. M/S of a crown crane. Children are given elephant rides. M/S of crowd watching. C/U of the lion and dog again.”
Chester In The 1950s
lookthroughtime.com Independent Film Archive – Northgate Street in Chester
VideotoDVDWirral: “Cine Film of old Birkenhead and Chester – transferred in our Wallasey Studios.”
British Pathé – Unissued / Unused material – Royal visit to Chester (Cheshire) and Wallasey (Merseyside).
“MS’s near Chester Town Hall showing royal car approaching. Various crowd shots. MS Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, going up steps into Town Hall. Various shots arrival at County Hall and introduction to VIP’s. MS as Queen receives key to open the new building. MS opening doors.
Various shots as Queen and Philip arrive at Town Hall, Wallasey, they are received by Mayor Alderman B Brooker and Mr Ernest Marples, Postmaster General. MS royal standard being raised. MS Queen and Philip on the balcony. MS as royal train arrives at Chester Station and the Queen is greeted by Lord Lieutenant Lord Leverhulme.
MS as Queen leaves the Town Hall with the Mayor – Reverend E Lawson. Various shots at the Roodee where the Queen presents Colours to the 1st, 4th and 7th Battalions. She inspects the three Companies, watches the old Colours being trooped off in slow time and presents the new Colours. Various shots as she inspects the old Comrades. (Two dogs appear before ceremony starts and have to be chased off by soldiers).
Various shots as Queen and Duke visits children and men’s ward at royal infirmary. MS as Queen and Duke leave between a line of nurses. MS as Queen unveils plaque at the County Hall to open building and receives a silver cigarette box as present from council. Various shots as Queen leaves. MS Queen and Duke on balcony. MS crowds cheering.”
Leaderlive: “A video we created a little while back for our Local Bygones website.”
Chester In The 1960s
Chester Gang Show Channel: “This is old film of the Chester Gangshow in 1962 at the Royalty Theatre.”
BRONPW: “THE BIG FREEZE . WINTER 1962-1963. RIVER DEE, CHESTER, UK.”
Rob Meadows: “A day out at Chester zoo in 1964. Animals featured are elephants, sealions and brown bears. Originally taken on 8mm celluloid film using a Zeiss Ikon Movikon 8 camera.”
Geoff Claydon – 2A very busy looking Chester from the 1960’s, from my collection of cine film. If you enjoy looking at old film subscribe to my channel as I collect old cine film and any clips that I think could be of interest to other people I put up on my channel.”
HAYLEY GREEN – 1960 Old Cine Movies
Victoria Meadows – “1960’s footage Chester Zoo.”
Chester In The 1970s
Brianellwood – “Home movie, a day out in Chester, mostly by the River Dee, late 1970’s. Transferred from Kodachrome super 8mm.”
British Pathé – “Location: Chester. School children alighting from a coach. MS camels CU zebra’s head through railings CU camel’s head MS Five giraffes stand in doorway CU of boys GV children walking around zoo. Two chimpanzees seated on climbing frame. CU seals in the water. MS Black and brown bear with frosty breath.E/C Neg.
Location was unspecified until October 2010 when members on ZooChat.Com confirmed that it was Chester.”
The Western Fullers: “June 2, 2013 – This silent 8 mm home movie was made by my father in 1973. It shows one of the last trips of the Chester — Bridgeport Ferry, traveling on the ferry from Bridgeport to Chester. This must have been around August 1973, as everyone is wearing summer clothes, and the new Commodore Barry Bridge is in the movie, ready to take over from the ferry. The bridge opened for traffic on February 1, 1974. In 1973, Dennis Mackin and I walked across the bridge; they opened it up to pedestrians as part of the celebration about its opening.
The movie begins with the approach of the ferry (the ‘Bridgeport’) from Chester toward the slip at Bridgeport. At 0:19, the lady in this view is my mother, and the short boy is my youngest brother Charles. We don’t know who the other boy is, but clearly it is a friend of Charles. My father is handling the movie camera, and it seems the family is on their way home to Drexel Hill after a vacation on the Jersey Shore. We often took the ferry as it was the scenic route to the Shore.
At 1:42 we see our family car, the 1969 Mercury Montego MX, drive on to the boat. I have a lot of memories wrapped up in that car. It was a 302 V8 with a three speed manual shift on the column, or ‘three on the tree’, and it came from the factory in ‘hot orange’.
At 2:07, we depart from Bridgeport, and in the middle of the Delaware, we pass by the ferry heading for Bridgeport. And then we see our destination, the ferry slip at Chester, right at the base of the bridge. As we approach the slip, we see Mom, Charles and his friend walk around the bow to get in the car. And at 3:53, we touch the slip, and it is all over for us and the Chester — Bridgeport Ferry.”
WerewolfZevon: “Rough and ready tribute to the 4th Division Chester team that produced the greatest night in the club’s history, beating Champions Leeds 3-0 at Sealand Road in heavy rain. Leeds pictures are interspersed with cuttings from the Newcastle and Villa games as Chester got close to being the first 4th Division side to make it to a Wembley final. Fair dues to the Chronicle and Observer photographers who produced such brilliant photos of the games. Music- Gary Shearston, I get a kick out of you by Cole Porter, in the UK charts in November 1974.”
Chester In The 1980s
WerewolfZevon: “A selection of photos taken in Chester in the summer of 1980. Starts and finishes with a photo of the long-demolished Union Hall in a courtyard off Foregate Street. Pevsner’s guide to Cheshire described it as “built in 1809 for tradesmen attending the Chester fairs. A galleried court of which the E and part of the S side remains. Three-storey. Iron columns.” The music is “Memory Lane” by Steve Tilston from his album “The Reckoning”…The track seems appropriate, not just for its content, but because a conversation with a mate in the King’s Head in 1973 led me to buy Steve’s second album later that day in the sale rack in Brown’s record department.”
Burl Solomons: “A walk round Chester in 1980, including along Eastgate, walking along the city walls, a look at the canal, a visit to the Roman Gardens and Roman amphitheatre and a trip on the river. Shot by Dr Stanley Solomons on Kodak Super 8 film using a Eumig Mini 5 camera.”
ThamesTv – “Historic Chester, a walled city in Cheshire, England, on the River Dee. Famed for its black and white architecture and rambling streets. Filmed in 1983. First shown: 06/02/1984.”
Roy Harrison: “A short video from my Archive VHS tapes of trains at the above stations seen in 1987. I hope you enjoy watching.”
Chester In The 1990s
Griffomedia – “Chester in 1995 – Take A Tour Of The City and see the sights. Including some of the shops and bars which are sadly no longer.”
Chester In The 21st Century
15 Jul 2007 – Megapoints Controllers: “Model aircraft fitted with on board video camera flying over Chester, from the Meadows, River Dee, Groves, Queens Park, Boughton, Suspension Bridge, Old Dee Bridge and Chester Park.”
If you find the engine sound difficult to listen to, just turn your device to silent.
1 Nov 2007 – trefechan: “This guy lets the Birds completely cover his body while feeding them at the groves in Chester, England.”
2 May 2008 – CheshireHotels: Meadowside, 29 Holbein Close, Belgrave Park, Handbridge, Chester, Cheshire, CH4 7EU, England.
4 Apr 2010 – Dalesaccount: “I made this vid over a few weeks that the former Cheshire HQ in Chester was being demolished, built in the early sixties, it was a building that Chester people loved to hate and many were glad to see the back of it,,,, it is now an hotel and expensive flats.”
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With thanks to Wolfgang Zenz for use of the image at the top of this page.