This wonderful but slightly eccentric building, possibly the
ultimate curiosity in garden shed design, used to be in Upper
Wood near the Sports Field.
Thirsty walkers or cavern visitors were served tea and refreshments
at the Zoo Tea Gardens. The gardens were run by Isaac and
Mary Shaw; Isaac was an Engineer and Boiler Maker, so presumably
it was Mary who did most of the work.
of Jacob Fluor Spar Cavern was some 200 metres down the
hillside, though it had its own tea area.
The Zoo Tea Gardens would probably have served visitors to
the Speedwell Cavern and the Cricket Ground.
The wooden building is decorated with interpretations of wild
birds and animals. On the side adjacent to the stool, for instance,
is a man on a horse who is smoking a pipe and the horse is
being chased by a reindeer. There is a crown just below the
apex of the roof and snakes, more animals
and another pipe smoker are on either side of the fretwork
Similar designs surround the doorway and the other two windows.
To the side is a rustic sunshade which is decorated in similar
style with a reindeer head and antlers; it is rather small
for the real thing but could be, otherwise it is purely decorative
and probably carved from wood.
It is likely that the rustic garden seating provided for the
customers was made from the many trees and saplings in the
vicinity, possibly by William Widdowson who was a jobbing gardener
in 1901 and would have had the skills to make it.
Willow, birch, or alder saplings are all suitable for this
type of furniture.
It is even possible that the windmill on the top served as
a wind generator.