From the Guardian files

The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster
The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster

What was happening around the district 25, 10 and five years ago this week.

25 years ago

An information and advice centre in Morecambe for drug users and people at risk from Aids had been given the go-ahead by Lancaster City Council. The Inward House Trust and Lancaster Health Authority were given planning permission to set up the centre on Deansgate. A needle exchange scheme, run by the district pharmacist and the council’s environmental health department, already gave away free injection equipment to drug users to be returned after use and exchanged for a fresh supply.

Although local health chiefs believed the flu epidemic had reached its peak in the community, it was starting to strike at the elderly population. So far, the virus had attacked mainly children and young people, but the infirmary had been desperately juggling staff and beds to create space for old people.

Housing development on land off Ovangle Road and Morecambe Road was nearer to reality as Lancaster City Council had agreed to approve the details in principle but left the final decision with the council officers. But fears were mounting that procedures were not being followed and that the agreement between the developer and the council would not be signed before the approval was given. It was planned to build nine bungalows, 98 detached and 18 semi-detached houses and 42 mews.

10 years ago

Businesses and residents near a fire-ravaged White Lund chemicals warehouse had complained of noxious odours from the site. But health officials who went in to probe the smells said they were not thought to be dangerous. The message followed an on-site investigation at the Lancaster Synthesis warehouse on Newgate. Nearby residents and firms had complained about smells and possible health risks from the now demolished 16,000 sq ft building. The land was being cleared and any remaining chemicals removed after the single storey warehouse was gutted in a £12 million blaze in July.

The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment was to lose its identity as a result of army changes. The Lancaster-
linked King’s Own, which had roots going back more 
than 300 years, was to become part of a new North 
West regiment. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said changes throughout the army were aimed at making it more robust and resilient. The King’s Own was to be merged into a new two-battalion grouping to be 
known as the King’s Lancashire and Border Regiment based in Preston. Peter Donnelly, curator of the 
King’s Own Museum in Lancaster, said the regiment 
had successfully adapted to change many times in its history.

5 years ago

Lancaster experienced its worst snow for at least 13 years – but forecasters were not predicting another fall on Christmas Day. Children enjoyed the icy weather but for motorists and commuters in the district it was no winter wonderland. There were 23 accidents on local roads between Saturday and mid-afternoon on Tuesday, 14 of them on Sunday. China Street in Lancaster was closed after a Mercedes car slid down the hill into a wall.

The £150 million scheme to transform Lancaster city centre was dramatically refused. Centros wanted to create a shopping, office, housing and cultural centre on a 10-acre site in the heart of Lancaster. But the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government refused the scheme, mainly on heritage grounds. His decision was based on the three-week public inquiry in the summer and the inspector’s subsequent report.

The Dukes theatre was calling on supporters to campaign against a proposed £20,000 cut in Lancaster City Council funding following a record breaking year. The popular Lancaster venue was projecting a 30 per cent increase in people through its doors, from 82,404 in 2008/09 to 107,816 this time around.