From the Guardian files

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

Here’s what was happening around the Lancaster district 25, 10 and five years ago this week.

25 years ago

A huge canal restoration project – the first of its kind in the country – was set to pour into the city area leisure investment on a scale undreamed of – £150million – and an estimated 5,000 jobs.

The uniqueness and scale of the scheme, it was claimed, would be the biggest leisure investment ever for the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

Lancaster’s geographical location made it the linchpin of an exciting scheme, involving a world famous designer, to open up and exploit the beauty and potential of the Lancaster Canal.

Pro-dog groups were to take their fight against the proposed Lancaster City Council dog ban on Morecambe beach and in three ornamental gardens to the Home Office.

Calls were made at a meeting of the Dog Protection Action group at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, for objections to the proposed by-laws to be lodged with the Home Office.


A huge blaze and multiple explosions gutted a White Lund chemicals warehouse, covering parts of Lancaster in acrid smoke and causing traffic chaos. Firefighters were ordered back from the immediate seat of the blaze at Lancaster Synthesis on White Lund because their lives were at risk.

Temperatures topped 1,000 degrees C as smoke rose 300 feet from a single storey warehouse – the second major incident at the firm in the last 21 months. It took five hours to control the flames and damping down went on for another day. In all 130 firefighters from all parts of Lancashire and more than 20 fire appliances were used.

As many as 15 explosions rocked the structure, rocketing storage drums high over nearby fire engines. The roof caved in and walls were in danger of collapsing. Firms on White Lund were evacuated because of the smoke, the contents of which were not initially known.

The For Sale sign could be going up outside Lancaster Town Hall or some of the city’s other civic buildings in a bid to make savings and improve efficiency.

The sale of Lancaster or Morecambe town halls or other city council buildings such as Palatine Hall in Dalton Square; offices in St Leonardgate and properties in Euston Road, Morecambe, were all under consideration in a best value review.

Jazz fans in Lancaster launched a campaign to save live music at their local. Lancaster brewery Mitchell’s axed the weekly jazz night at the Bowerham Hotel in favour of Sky TV.

But regulars at the jazz night were outraged and presented a petition of 85 names to Mitchell’s, asking them not to pull the plug on the popular musical hot spot.


Around 900 people across the Lancaster district had been prescribed with drugs to combat swine flu. However the flu pandemic co-ordinator said it was difficult to determine how many of those issued with the Tamiflu drugs at Moor Lane Mills in Lancaster actually had the virus. A two-dose vaccination programme was set to be rolled out nationwide from the end of August.

A bid by a Lancaster City Councillor to try to get the former Mitchell’s Brewery building listed had failed. Coun John Whitelegg asked members of the planning committee to serve a Building Preservation Notice on the site while its future use was still in question. This would have prevented it being demolished and would mean English Heritage and the Secretary of State could then be asked to list the building.

Just four months after it opened, Lancaster’s Visitor Information Centre had received top marks in a mystery shopper test. Mystery shoppers seldom gave top scores across the board and achieving over 97 per cent was an extraordinary achievement for the staff.