Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

It’s hard to believe, but this week it is exactly ten years ago this week, that we had a make-over here at Lancaster Leisure Park.

We spent £50,000 on a make-over of the outside space in readiness for the Easter holidays.

A striking, centrepiece water feature, designed by award-winning landscape gardener, Jackie Knight was installed at the heart of the park.

Weighing three quarters of a tonne and standing six feet tall, Jackie’s sandstone and water feature is still a real focal point.

The surrounding area was planted with evergreens and shrubs to give year-round colour and a decade on they are still going strong.

The original idea was to soften the Park’s central square.

We wanted to draw the visitor’s eye away from the all concrete paving and rectangular seating. We thought people would want to touch and enjoy the sound of the water.

The fountain was something that really got people, talking as that area of the park had remained largely unchanged since it was first opened to the public in the late 1970s.

There was a few teething problems at first. We had trouble sourcing a suitably large boulder and I remember there was drilling difficulties, but the rock was put into place on schedule on the 1st April 2004.

No – it wasn’t an April fool.

Also opened at this time was the cafe which we named The Timeless Tearoom. Serving teas, coffees, cakes and a light menu of hot food, it stood strong for the last ten years and only closed to make room for Inspirations Gift Shop which opened in its’ place recently.

Nowadays, the courtyard is a suntrap with plenty of seating for visitors to relax and enjoy an ice cream or snack, or just take the weight off their feet. It’s always lovely to see this central area bustling with people.

We get over 250,000 visitors a year to the site, so all long as they don’t all turn up at once, we’ll be ok.