Hull park to get £500,000 aviary stocked with birds and animals 'from across the African continent'

Hull’s second biggest park is having nearly £500,000 spent on doing up an aviary which will house birds and animals from across the African continent.

Archive pic: People relaxing in the sun in Pickering Park Picture: John Jones
Archive pic: People relaxing in the sun in Pickering Park Picture: John Jones

The aviary at Pickering Park, which was given to the people of Hull for their enjoyment by Sir Christopher Pickering 110 years ago, closed after a rat infestation in 2016.

Users had hoped it would reopen within weeks, but the aviary has stayed shut until now, becoming an eyesore in the well-used park.

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Hull Council aims to reopen the aviary this summer with a display of birds and small mammals in modern facilities, alongside a new educational space where visitors can learn more about the creatures.

Archive pic: The fishing lake in Pickering Park Picture: John Jones

Trustee of Friends of Pickering Park Carole Parker, who has been using the park since she was eight years old, said everyone was disappointed when the aviary shut.

She said: “We have been fighting for this ever since it was closed down and we can’t wait to see it finished. We got told it was being closed down for a few weeks because it was rat infested.

“It is the second biggest park in Hull and it does seem to get left behind unfortunately. It has a lovely fishing lake, green fields and a sensory garden, but it is a bit neglected to be fair.”

The 60-acre park is a legacy of the businessman and philanthropist Christopher Pickering, who made his fortune in fishing, and who also gave Hull almshouses, a church, community hall and home for orphaned girls.

Magnificent iron gates mark the entrance to the park, which officially opened on July 13 1911.

A council report reveals that Ashcourt Construction Ltd has been awarded a contract for £486,951 to do the work.

It adds: “The return of the much loved and missed facility is sure to attract many more visitors to the park.” A bronze drinking fountain is also being restored and will be returned to the park in time for the aviary’s reopening.

The archetypal Victorian self-made man, Christopher Pickering’s life was a true rags-to-riches story.

The son of a tailor, he made his way from being fish curer, to merchant and then ship owner, making a fortune by building up a fleet of sailing smacks, by teaming up with a man called Haldane.

Recognising the future lay in steam, he sold the sailing ships in Europe to buy steam trawlers, ending up owning Pickering & Haldane’s Steam Trawling Co, Pickering, Haldane & Co fish and ice merchants, as well as being chair of several fishing and allied firms.

In Hornsea, where he lived for 30 years, residents benefited from his generosity – at one point he paid for drinking wells to give them a safe supply of water.

Many of the features Pickering would have been familiar with in the park, including the Pergola Bridge, brick and wood shelters thatched in Norfolk reed and the bandstand have long since disappeared. But his name lives on in the Park, a home for the elderly Christopher Pickering Lodge and the Pickering council ward.

Between 1939 and 1945, many iron railings round the city were taken down and scrapped to help the War effort.

But the gates of the Park were considered “too important.”

The council were unable to give more detail on the species which will be in the aviary when asked on Tuesday.