A Lion Escapes on Felixstowe’s Seafront!

Mannings Amusement Park in Felixstowe has been owned and managed by the Mannings family since 1946 when the father of Charlie Mannings took over the park after it was offered to him by Mr Butlin.  Charlie was just one year old when his family moved to Felixstowe to begin their life there.  Here he shares his memories of the park with Holding Back the Tide. 

Charlie ManningsMy dad was a travelling showman.  And he met my mum in London and he met Mr Butlins during the war doing the stay at home holidays.  And when the war ended Mr Butlin offered him this park because he had it under management prior to the war.  And he wanted it rented out, was easier for him.  And so we came here in 1946 I was a year old.  And this is where I’ve been ever since.

There used to be the boating lake down the bottom half of the park with the monkey island in the middle, with real monkeys on it.  Oh yes, real monkeys.  And the bottom end which then became the dodgem track that was a zoo.  And I always liked the tale, whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but before the war if it was quiet they used to have an old lion, harmless old thing, a bit like Clarence the lion,  well he was like a friendly old lion.  And they used to sometimes get him out of his cage and walk him up the front.  Then phone the papers and say, ” ‘The lion’s escaped!”  Get a bit of publicity from that,’Dangerous Lion Escaped from Zoo is Recaptured by Brave Keepers’.  It wasn’t quite like that but you got a bit of publicity.  … It’s a nice story regardless.    Listen to story: Lion Escape

Dodgems FelixstoweFelixstowe then wasn’t that much different to now, apart from the docks.  The docks are the biggest difference.  I remember we used to have donkey rides in Micklegate road out there one time.  And they used to be kept down in a field down Walton Avenue, which is like an unmade up road with a row of trees all over it.  And the field where they stayed is probably now where Routemaster is. Listen to story: Donkeys in the meadow

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3 Responses to “A Lion Escapes on Felixstowe’s Seafront!”


  1. 1 Karrie Drake December 28, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I would be most grateful if anyone that has historical information on the Manning family in Felixstowe, would please contact me at karrie@familydetective.co.uk

    I am researching the family for a client and have come to a halt in 1901 with William Manning (born 1850, King’s Cross) and his sons and daughters; Thomas, William, Jack, Joseph, Emma and Charlie.

    Many thanks.

  2. 2 Brian July 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Sadly Charlie manning has now past on as of the 12th May 2011,

    I work for the Manning Family,

    I have a great number of photo and information if you are still looking ?

    brianlheppell49@hotmail.com

  3. 3 Hayley Long July 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. I remember Charlie Manning’s Amusement Park from when I was a child in the 1980s. Does anyone know where I can see photos of the park from this period?


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