Meet The Blackburns
Lancaster Leisure Park and GB Antiques Centre are owned and managed by the Blackburn Family.
Lancashire born Allan Blackburn attributes both his passion for antiques and his determination to succeed in business from his Grandfather, Thomas Blackburn.
Thomas loved antiques and book collecting, and was himself a successful entrepreneur, with a spinning and weaving business in Preston, which was later to become Somic PLC. Allan worked through Somic starting in sales and eventually become Joint Managing Director. However, the lure of the antiques business made a daily pull on his life. He would spend his lunch time browsing antiques shops and centres with his Grandfather. He would occasionally buy something but mostly Allan was looking and learning!.
Allan met and married Gloria who also loved antiques, and weekends and holidays were spent browsing round shops, centres and fairs throughout the UK. In August 1990, they opened GB Antiques Centre & that same year, were thrilled to be featured on Granada’s Flying Start programme.
Allan said, "Named after my lovely wife, we only intended to open the place at weekends and run antiques fairs, but we were doing so well, we took the plunge and opened every day. We've never looked back!"
Allan's instincts were right. 25 years later the antiques centre has grown to more than 40,000 sq feet, boasting 100 individual dealers, making it the biggest indoor antiques and furniture centre in the country.
Allan is a well known throughout Lancashire - He has been chairman of the Governors and hockey coach at Kirkham Grammar School, as well as coach for Preston Hockey Club. In 2004 Allan acted as Venue Supervisor at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Allan features on BBC Radio Lancashire’s afternoon show twice a month, giving antiques valuations on listeners' collectables. He also writes a weekly collectables article for the Lancashire Evening Post and the Morecambe Visitor, an opinion piece in the Lancaster Guardian and a valuations feature for Northern Life magazine.
But it’s not just antiques!
In April 1998, Allan bought Lancaster Leisure Park on which GB Antiques is situated. He transformed it into an exciting family day out and it now boasts 9 amazing attractions as well as new housing development. Lancaster Leisure Park is now home to:
- GB Antiques Centre
- Lancaster Brewery
- The Old Factory Shop
- Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop
- Countrystyle Kitchen
- Giggles Play and Adventure
- Cam Portrait Photography
- Turning Point Dance Studio
- Marshalls Self Drive
The park welcomes over 200,000 visitors a year and employs 320 staff including Allan’s wife Gloria, son Jimmy and daughter Dawn.
Allan said “I am really happy with how the park looks now. I have always wanted to offer something exciting and totally unique to our visitors. Now with our new attractions open, I can confidently say that Lancaster Leisure Park does just that and I don’t think there’s anything like this anywhere else in the country. But I’ve still not finished! There are plans for further development of the site in my top drawer. Retirement is going to have to wait a bit longer!”