History of Lancaster Leisure Park
LANCASTER LEISURE PARK - A 50+ YEAR CHRONICLE
1968 - Proposals for the development of pottery factory with visitor facilities are submitted by the Yorkshire company, Hornsea Pottery Ltd owned by brothers, Desmond & Colin Rawson. They thank "Lancaster Corporation" for their "supreme effort" in ironing out difficulties.
April 1973 - Work begins on the multi million pound factory
September 1974 - The kilns at the new factory are lit "The culmination of several years of striving and planning"
April 1976 - Hornsea Pottery, Lancaster opens to the public. "Visitors will be pouring in their thousands every day." The park's leaflet boasts, "There's always something new at Hornsea Pottery!"
Easter 1977 - 25,000 people visit the attraction over Easter week.
1980 - Three quarters of a million visitors head for Hornsea, Lancaster in one year.
November 1981 - Despite impressive visitor numbers, trouble is brewing - 1981 sees the beginning of a spate of redundancies starting with the publicity manager! The recession is blamed.
December 1983 - The company benefits from a £3.4 million cash injection which safeguards 200 jobs, but consortium Destion Ltd takes over many assets in return.
February 1984 - 100 workers including the Managing Director, Gordon Baker are made redundant. Ten days later Gordon Baker himself makes a £2 million bid for the firm which is now under threat of closure. The bid is successful.
November 1984 - A further £3 million cash injection creates 90 jobs. In another £2 million deal the park is taken over by the Steinberg Group. The North West Tourist Board & The Department of Industry are asked for money.
1986 - The English Tourist Board turn down funds request. Nonetheless significant investments are made to the park's attractions for the first time in 4 years. A giant alpine slide (the largest in England) a Wild West adventure playground, clothing retailing & a model village attraction are all added to the site.
June 1987 - The failure of two Hornsea pottery ranges leads to 30 job losses.
July 1987 - Weeks after the company is taken over by Peter Black Holdings of Keighley, the factory closes completely and 90 further jobs are lost.
March 1988 - The site is bought by Stoke based Ceramic Tableware Marketing. Stan Barnes is to be Managing Director. 4,000 families visit over Easter (Almost double the previous year). The new owners estimate that 1.5 million visitors will be attracted to the site within 5 years. Mr Barnes promises "A good, high class, family day out."
November 1988 - Stan Barnes outlines developments for site including restoring & expanding the rare breeds farm. The plans involve the creation of 40 jobs. A new name for the park is announced - Lancaster Leisure Park.
July 1989 - Stan Barnes takes over sole ownership of Lancaster Leisure Park
October 1989 - Keith Stevenson takes over as Park Manager.
December 1990 - First stages of the planned redevelopment are announced by Stan Barnes. They include retailing by Peter Black's The Factory Shop chain. Development of a £500,000 golf centre is postponed.
August 1990 - Preston entrepreneur, Allan Blackburn opens his GB Antiques Centre at Lancaster Leisure Park. The centre was intended to operate as Sunday antiques fair, but it is so popular, it is soon opening daily.
1995 - On the untimely death of Stan Barnes, his widow Catherine takes over ownership of Lancaster Leisure Park.
1995 - A children’s indoor soft play area, named the Magic Castle is opened.
April 1998 - Allan Blackburn buys the Lancaster Leisure Park lease. Specific plans are not outlined, but he promises, "I intend to develop Lancaster Leisure Park by encouraging a complementing blend of leisure facilities"
March 2003 – A bull escapes from the Abattoir next door and rampages through the Antiques Centre on Bank Holiday Monday like a “bull in a china shop!”
May 2003 - The bull is immortalized with a life size fibre glass sculpture. Placed on the roof of GB Antiques, it’s a reminder of the escapee animal that took the centre into the international spotlight.
2005 - Allan introduces furniture to its range of antiques at the centre. The department is run by Allan’s son, Jimmy and the centre soon starts to be known as GB Antiques and Furniture Centre.
April 2006 - The Timeless Tearoom opens and is run by Allan’s daughter, Dawn Blackburn.
August 2006 - A new million pound garden centre opens. After months of planning and building, the Redwood Garden Centre (spanning 2 acres) opens its doors as part of the new look Lancaster Leisure Park
June 2008 - Cherry Tree Pots and gift ware opens
December 2009 - Redwood closes
January 2010 - GB Antiques has its busiest day ever taking £9,000, compared to average Sunday’s takings of about £4,000
January 2010 - The Magic Castle closes to make way for an extension to GB Antiques Centre. The extra 4,000 sqft this creates makes the centre one of the biggest antiques and furniture centre’s in the Country. It now boasts 85 dealers and attracts over 200,000 visitors a year.
June 2010 – Cherry Tree Pots Closes
June 2010 - GB Antiques Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary with a party and free admission to celebrate over the weekend.
September 2011 - Lancaster Brewery and Visitor Centre opens its doors to the public for the very first time.
September 2011 - Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop opens in the refurbished cafe building.
May 2012 - The team at GB Antiques centre together with Lancaster Brewery and Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop decide to host a Food and Drink festival. It exceeds expectations when 8,000 visitors come.
March 2013 - Giggles Play and Adventure opens for the first time.
May 2013 – The Timeless Tearoom closes and in its place the Inspiration Gift Shop opens.
May 2013 - The Lancaster Food and Drink Festival is held on site for the second time. It is sponsored by Booths and 10,000 visitors stream through the gates over the two days.
May 2014 - The third Lancaster Food and Drink Festival is held on the bank holiday weekend. Visitor numbers reach 12,000 people.
November 2014 – The team at Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop get an award at a national butchers competition.
February 2015 - After 12 years in the planning, new homes are finally given the go ahead and Miller homes are awarded the contract to build 71 homes on the park.
March 2015 - Miller Homes begin work on site.
March 2015 – Cam Photography opens its door for the first time. Cam is situated in the old Inspiration Gift Shop.
May 2015 - Now in its fourth year, the Lancaster Food and Drink Festival is held over three days due to its success in previous years.
August 2015 - GB Antiques Centre celebrates its 25th anniversary with valuations on site and a cake stall with all proceeds going to two local charities. It raises £500.
November 2015 - Countrystyle Kitchen opens
November 2016 - Christmas Markets are held on site for the first time.
November 2016 - The furniture section at the back of the centre is expanded to create space for 12 new dealers
February 2017 - The Forest Garden reaches out for donations to stay open and are successful
March 2017 - Planning permission is passed for a new building to house a state of the art gymnastics studio for a local club.
June 2017 - The old toilet block is refurbished to such a high standard that Radio Lancashire come along to open it to visitors!
March 2018 - City of Lancaster Gymnastics Club open their doors to students for the first time.
April 2018 - The team from Television's "Salvage Hunters" come to film at the centre
November 2021 - The team from Television's "Antiques Road Trip" come and film at the centre
Today - The Leisure Park is home to Lancaster Brewery, Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop, Countrystyle Kitchen, The Ice Cream Parlour, The Original Factory Shop, Giggles Play and Adventure Centre, Cam Portrait Photography, Turning Point Theatre Arts Studio, Marshalls Self Drive, The Hair Boutique, City of Lancaster Gymnastics and The Forest Garden, as well as GB Antiques Centre, which is now the largest indoor antique and furniture centre in the country.