Allan Blackburn column: Introducing our new columnist and antiqities expert Allan

Site owner and owner of GB Antiques, Allan Blackburn.
Site owner and owner of GB Antiques, Allan Blackburn.

Allan Blackburn is the owner and manager of Lancaster Leisure Park and GB Antiques Centre.

He will be writing this column for us every week.

Born in 1947 in Clitheroe, Allan and his wife Gloria have always shared a passion for antiques.

Having visited hundreds of antiques centres in the UK and abroad, they decided they could do better.

In August 1990, they opened GB Antiques Centre and that same year, the couple were featured on Granada’s Flying Start programme.Determined to succeed, Allan’s worked hard and over 20 years later the centre has grown to more than 40,000ft, with 100 individual dealers and 200,000 visitors each year.

In April 1998, he bought the Lancaster Leisure Park site and has continued working hard to bring new attractions to the park.

It is now home to Lancaster Brewery, The Original Factory Shop, Country Style Meats Farm Shop, Inspiration Gift Shop, Giggles Play Area, Turning Point Dance Studio and Marshalls Self Drive.

Allan and Gloria have three grown up children, two of which work alongside him at the park. They live in Preston. Allan is well known throughout Lancashire – he was chairman of the governors and hockey coach at Kirkham Grammar School as well as playing for Preston Hockey Club.

He has more than 1,000 games to his name and was on the technical hockey committee for the organisation of Manchester’s Commonwealth Games.

He features each month on BBC Radio Lancashire’s afternoon show, giving antiques valuations of listeners’ collectables.

He finds time (somehow) to write a page for Northern Life Magazine, a weekly column of Collectables for the Lancashire Evening Post and will be sharing his stories and anecdotes about life in Britain’s biggest antiques and furniture centre with us, every week.

See next week’s Guardian for a column on how Allan got into the world of antiques.