Tecton treasures unearthed

Workers restoring our Tecton Bear Ravine and Kiosk One have unearthed treasures from a bygone age.

dzg_kiosk_1web   Original 1937 script on the kiosk came to light when restoration workers peeled back decades of paint to reveal an original confectionery advertisement for Teddy Gray’s rock.   dzg_kiosk_1web   While over at the Bear Ravine’s pit wall workmen discovered an enamel plaque circa 1950.   dzg_kiosk_1web   Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman said: “We were excited to see the confectionery advert, particularly as we still have supplies of rock from the same manufacturer, Dudley-based Teddy Gray, who sold ice-creams and sweets from the site’s two kiosks from the day the zoo opened in May 1937 until the 1980s when a change in health and safety regulations prompted their closure.   dzg_kiosk_1web   “The plaque will be put into our new Tecton Interpretation Centre, which is sited within the newly-restored Safari Shop, and tells the story of Berthold Lubetkin’s inspired architecture using reinforced concrete, while replacing the script with authentic type and original colours was included in the first round of our restoration programme back in 2009 when we started discussions on these listed buildings with Heritage Lottery Fund.”    dzg_kiosk_1web   dzg_kiosk_1web

DZG has the world’s single largest collection of Tecton buildings – 12 listed structures around the site intended for animal and visitor use – and the display celebrates their importance within the Modernist Movement.

Jill added: “Discussions are still taking place as to the final use for the Bear Ravine – thought by many Lubetkin aficionados to be the most impressive Tecton within the collection – and it is hoped to keep an animal species on the lower level which incorporates the original bear pit, while allowing public access to the upper level, including the balcony.”  

Workers restoring the Bear Ravine have erected £15,000-worth of scaffolding around the amphitheatre-shaped concrete building as they carry out repairs and match colours to the original paintwork.

Work to the Tecton, which includes £48,000 spent on cleaning the structure, is approximately six months ahead of schedule. 

Jill said: “We are delighted that the programme of work is so advanced, which is due to the launch of our apprenticeship in Concrete Repair for Historic Buildings.   “It is a unique course, run on site by our own team, and means we always have a high level of expertise available and gives our full-time apprentices a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable hands-on skills that ensure our iconic Tecton