THE remarkable man who founded Chester Zoo - which celebrates its 80th anniversary today - was born and bred in Sale ... but few people in the borough realise this.

George Saul Mottershead fulfilled a boyhood dream when he launched Chester Zoo on June 10, 1931.

The zoo has since established a global reputation for its conservation, educational and environmental work while George earned national and international recognition, including the OBE in 1973, five years before his death aged 83.

But there is little awareness in Trafford that the man who is responsible for one of the best zoos in the world was born in Sale and lived in the town until he was in his 20s.

Now, though, local historian George Cogswell has highlighted George Mottershead's Sale connections in a book about his life. It reveals how George Mottershead overcame a severe injury suffered in World War One that confined him to a wheelchair for several years.

Mr Cogswell said: "George was an incredible man who has left us with one of the best zoos in the world on our doorstep, for which he was given worldwide recognition.

"I hope to help to correct the lack of knowledge in George's birth town about him and his family's significant endeavours in founding Cheser Zoo.

"What a legacy to leave the people of the north west and around the world."

George was born at Lindow Terrace (now Lindow Street), Sale on June 12, 1894, to parents Lucy and Alert, a nurseryman. By 1901 the family was living at Old Hall Road, Sale Moor, and then in 1912/13 moved around the corner to Northenden Road - above what is now a Spar shop.

A family day out to Belle Vue Zoo to celebrate the end of the Anglo-Boer War in 1902, when George was eight, made an indelible impression on the nature and animal-loving boy.

George was horrified by the foul and smelly conditions, particularly those endured by a caged elephant, and vowed to build a 'zoo without bars' when he grew up.

When George was 16 he left his father's garden nursery and branched out on his own as a 'physical culture' - or fitness instructor. He organised keep fit classes and within three years was running three physical culture schools - the gyms of the day.

With the outbreak of World War One he closed the schools and joined the Army. During home leave he got married to Elizabeth Atkinson, aged 27, of Wardle Road, Sale at St Mary Magdalene Church, Ashton on Mersey.

Nine months later George was wounded. A bullet went though his neck and grazed his spinal cord. leaving him completely paralysed. He was treated at Highfield Military Hospital, Knotty Ash. His physical fitness, strength and determination saved him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He drove himself back to mobility and within three years he could walk unaided, although with a severe limp.

In 1920, George, his wife Elizabeth, their three-year-old daughter Muriel, and George's parents left Sale.

They moved to a farm cottage in Shavington, near Crewe. George opened a small zoo here.

In 1930 George bought seven acres of land at Upton-by-Chester for £3,500. There was large scale local opposition to his plan to open a zoo in the area. A petition was signed by 600 to 700 residents and the council rejected the plan. But approval was finally granted after a Public Inquiry and the zoo first opened its gates on June 10, 1931.

From there - with sterling support from his family - he built it from a humble operation run on a shoestring to being one of the foremost zoos in the world.

* While Gorge survived the carnage of World War One, two of his four brothers - Albert and Stanley - were killed in the war. They are commemorated on the Sale war memorial and St Ann's Church war memorial, Sale Moor. Details of both men are also on George Cogswell's Trafford War Dead website at