Reginald Stuart Goddard
Reginald Stuart Goddard or RS as he was reportedly known, founded Chessington Zoo in July 1931. Over the years I have come across various snippets of information on Reginald and thought it would be nice to document the man behind the Zoo and Circus, so he is not forgotten.
Born on 27th August 1890, son of Arthur and Dorothea Goddard, Reginald attended school in Ongar, Essex, England. He later married Doris Ena Layborn in 1915 and went on to have three children - Joan b.1915, Moira b.1917 and James b.1919.
Prior to opening Chessington Zoo in July 1931 he served for two years in the Royal Naval Air Service. Reginald graduated on the 17th July 1917 as a Flight sub-lieutenant in Roehampton and later qualified as a balloon pilot joining the 15th Balloon Base Tipnor (Kite Balloon Base) on the 31st March 1918 where he is recorded as being a capable officer and observer. As of 25th April 1918 Reginald, and his family were recorded on his Naval record as registered at living at 68 St Mary's Grove, Chiswick W4.
During his service Reginald was fortunate to only have one hospital admittance registered, where on the 1st May 1918 he spent 2 weeks with enlarged tonsils in the Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire. With the great war ending on 11 November 1918, as with many in service, Reginald's Naval Air Officer's service record show he was transferred to the unemployed list on the 16th January 1919. Stamped on his records are 'SERVICE CONSIDERED FOR GRANT OF WAR MEDALS'.
Reginald Stewart Goddard was awarded both a Victory & British War Medal by the Air Ministry for service in the RAF.
Following the war, he later became managing director of his family's Battersea-based slate and slab firm - Goddard & Son, Billiard Slate Manufacturers based in Broughton St. Battersea. RS opened a chain of billiard halls around London, with one rumoured to have been leased to a pet shop which stocked out of the ordinary pets that attracted much public interest. The knowledge that there could be a good living to be made from exhibiting animals stemmed from this business deal with the pet store, and later inspired him to open a zoo.
Reginald passed away on Christmas Day 1946 aged 56, in Evelyn Nursing home in Cambridge and was buried close to the zoo in the Cemetery at Saint Mary Churchyard, Surrey. In probate he left his widow Doris Ena Goddard, Thomas Alec Edwin Layborn CBE, Company Director & Horace Frederick Martin, Bank Manager - Effects £193,329 10s. 3d.
Royal Naval Air Service - Officer's Records
Products of Goddard & Son - Billiard Slate Manufacturers, Battersea
Slate And Teak Colstor Meat Safe By Goddard & Son
Slate Billiard table developed By R. S. Goddard
During 1930 a company named Thurston introduced an unusual billiard table, that was developed by a Mr. R. S. Goddard of the then very well known suppliers of slate beds to the trade, the intention being that enthusiastic billiard players could practice their shots on this M.I.P. table, (the initials standing for Multum in Parvo - Much in Little) which measured only 6ft. 1 ½ in by 4ft. 6in. and yet provided all the principal shots of a full sized 12ft. table.
As can be seen from the illustration the table had 3 baulk lines complete with half circles, 2 corner and 2 middle pockets. Mr. Goddard had apparently evolved the idea after watching the leading professional players and It was also claimed that you could play snooker on the M.I.P. billiard Table. Instructions for snooker using only 5 red balls were published stating that the 5 red balls should be arranged to form a pyramid behind the pink spot.