Chester Zoo manor house converted to pub in £3m transformation

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Transformation: Visitors to Chester Zoo are now able to buy a pint at the former home of its founder (Image credit: Brian Deegan, Geograph)
Transformation: Visitors to Chester Zoo are now able to buy a pint at the former home of its founder (Image credit: Brian Deegan, Geograph)

Related tags: Chester, Cheshire, Pub

The Victorian country home of the founder of Chester Zoo has been transformed into a gastropub.

A £3m refurbishment project has seen Oakfield Manor, former home during the 20th-century of zoo owner George Mottershead, converted into a pub.

Renovations include a new garden room which leads visitors out on to the Grade II-listed manor’s large lawn and the restoration of wood-panelled walls and a traditional fireplace in the former library.

Zoo headquarters

The former manor house became the headquarters of Chester Zoo in 1930, when Mottershead began his quest to create a progressive zoo without bars. Now the country's most visited zoo, it works to help endangered animals.

Oakfield Manor was originally built in 1884 as a country home, and was used as a hospital for Belgian refugees during the First World War.

Additional revenue from the pub will fund the zoo’s conservation projects to protect endangered species from extinction.

'Home-from-home feeling'

Simon Lockhart, the zoo’s food and beverage general manager, said: “The Oakfield is in keeping with the successful freehouses that Cheshire has to offer. We have sought to combine the best of them all to create a satisfyingly good pub with a really good menu.

“The pub is as much a testament to the past as it is a vision for the future of the zoo. We have been careful to retain the original qualities of the house so it has a real home-from-home feeling, and the building remains a centrepiece of the zoo in its own right.”

Five fires

Jamie Roberts, senior food and beverage manager, added: “On a cold winter’s day, you may just wander in for a coffee and a chat with one of the team while you warm up in front of the fire - there are five of those to choose from, after all!

“Whereas, on a lovely, bright day you may choose instead to sit out on the terrace with a satisfying glass of wine, or head to the new garden room, where you can enjoy an appetising lunch as you look out across the beautiful grounds.”

The pub will be open during the zoo’s main opening hours, closing at 6pm on most weekdays. Usual zoo admission fees will apply to anyone wishing to grab a pint at the Oakfield.

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