Monday, 18 May 2015

Rocking Horse set to return to New Street - and Wibbly Wobbly burgers to Lancaster city centre, too!

Photo © James Mackie. Used with permission

With the great news that a much-loved takeaway, Wibbly Wobbly, is about to expand into new premises, the old toy shop in New Street, Lancaster, we're also pleased to report that restoration work has finally begun on the listed building's iconic rocking horse.

Wibbly Wobbly, which has an operation on Lancaster University campus, first opened in the 1980s in Sir Simon's Arcade and was not only a great takewaway – who reading this also remembers their named and themed burgers? – but was also a distribution point for the free events zines that preceded virtual-lancaster, Off The Beat and Something Completely Different.

"We have lots to do for the opening of the new shop, but it's business as usual at the Uni," say Wibbly Wibbly team.

In recent years 8 New Street been used as a restaurant and, most recently, as a vintage toy shop.

Local designer James Mackie (of Dalton Square-based Mackies of Lancaster) is busy working on returning the rocking horse - the third horse to grace the building's exterior, this one first erected in about 1987 when the shop was run as a Lawson's toy shop.

"My job over the next few months will be to fully restore this listed shop sign courtesy of the shop's owners and a grant from the Business Improvement District," says James. "It is no small task!"

James has art and design in his bones as both his parents were art teachers and he lived his formative years in the long and detailed restoration of his family home in Georgian Lancaster. A former pupil at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, he's had a varied career that includes being a keyboard player for the Two-Tone band The Selecter and later played for Madness, going on to compose music for theatre, television, film, and radio. His musical interests still continue today, despite being busy running his company's shop with his partner, Christine.

James was encouraged to learn gilding and specialist painting by a freelance craftsman and friend in London who undertook work for Aspreys and Buckingham Palace, amongst others. He then started to make and paint furniture and, later, became a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.

After returning to Lancaster with his wife and two children and in 2000 James decided to dedicate himself full-time to interior design and opened the shop in the heart of his historic home town.

Our thanks to James for permission to feature his photograph.

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• Mackies of Lancaster: www.mackiesoflancaster.co.uk

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