From the Guardian files

The former Mitchells Brewery in Lancaster
The former Mitchells Brewery in Lancaster

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

Five years ago

The future of Lancaster’s Mitchell’s brewery building had been safeguarded after part of the building was listed. Architecture minister Margaret Hodge agreed to list the 18th century malthouse – which formed part of the brewery complex. That meant any demolition on the brewery site would require listed building consent. The announcement came just weeks after campaign group SAVE secured an injunction to halt demolition work on the brewery.

The future of Lancaster Market hung in the balance. Councillors were due to discuss plans which would have seen a single retailer – possibly Asco – take over the market hall. But after a huge public outcry – including a petition signed by around 12,000 people – the council leader was due to make a last-minute recommendation that the decision be deferred back to cabinet. And that a working party be set up to look at all options for the building, including keeping the market on one level with a single retailer below. Confidential information had been leaked which showed the council was prepared to spend £1.5million on tying up a deal with Asco, a mini-supermarket chain.

A last-ditch bid to maintain funding for three community swimming pools failed. Lancaster City Council’s cabinet had agreed that an arrangement by which the authority managed pools at Carnforth, Heysham and Hornby, on behalf of owner Lancashire County Council, should end.

Ten years ago

The M6 was closed for 24 hours between junctions 33 and 34 and traffic across the city came to a virtual standstill. Five-mile tailbacks were reported. Some motorists spent more than seven hours on the motorway trying to get into Lancaster only to be turned back by police when they finally reached junction 33. The disruption was caused by two lorries colliding and spilling chemicals on to the motorway.

It was reported that the new retail park on the Kingsway site could be opened by Christmas. Builders were working to a Christmas deadline so the new businesses would be able to benefit from the Yuletide rush.

People power led to council plans for a residents’ parking scheme in the Bowerham and Primrose areas being scrapped. The city council agreed not to go ahead with the plans to introduce parking permits to streets near St Martin’s College in Primrose and Bowerham after hearing residents’ objections. The scheme was due to be introduced in Bowerham Road and many adjoining streets, from The Grove to the Barton Road junction, in a bid to stop commuters and students parking in residential streets.

More than 150 people attended the first public exhibition about plans to erect wind turbines at Arkholme. Residents from villages surrounding the potential site at Cragg Lot took the opportunity to look at the in-depth proposals and put questions to representatives from the Northern Energy Initiative, npower renewables and the landowner Len Mason.

Twenty five years ago

Lancaster was facing a £2million bill after the storms which battered the district, but the Labour leader of the city council was promising that the cost would not be passed on to poll tax payers. Most of the astronomical bill was due to the destruction of parts of Morecambe’s old sea wall smashed in three places by mountainous seas. The risk of the coast road collapsing as a result was so great than an emergency stop-gap repair operation was ordered.

Lancaster’s unique butterfly collection was yet another victim of the storms as gale force winds tore roof panels off the Butterfly House in Williamson Park. The building was closed indefinitely and more than 400 rare butterflies were sent to Stoke-on-Trent for safe keeping. Pieces of glass showered down on to the floor of the building and sheets of glass panelling were swept on to surrounding grounds as winds battered the exposed Edwardian conservatory.

Ambitious plans for a £1million sports hall project at Salt Ayre had been taken a stage further. This followed talks involving representatives of the city council and the local and regional sports councils.

Three years of building and restoration work on the 100-year-old tower at Caton St Paul’s Church in Brookhouse were almost complete. Problems came to light at the church’s last five-yearly inspection. Damp walls and rotten timber were discovered in the unique tower, which has a Norman window and several other interesting features. Extensive repair work was prescribed.