Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Lancaster Steiner School announces Winter Fair

On Sunday, November 18th, Lancaster Steiner School will be holding its annual Winter Fair.

The magical Christmas Fairy will be in attendance, as well as gift stalls, craft-making, activities for children and a cafe serving delicious home-cooked food and cakes.
There will also be an opportunity to find out more about the school's application for free school funding to expand and offer free school places to children in the Lancaster District from September 2014.

Currently the Lancaster Steiner school is fee-paying (though three and four year old children are eligible for nursery school vouchers in Kindergarten). Louise Duirwyn, a parent and ex-teacher leading the free school bid, said, "We are applying for Free school funding because we know that there are many parents out there who want to give their children an alternative education, free from the pressures and large class sizes of mainstream schools.

"However, we know that the school fees are an obstacle to many parents seeking an alternative education."

The Winter Fair is on between 11.00 - 3.00 pm at the school on Lune Road.

Positive response to Duchy plans for Lancaster Castle

An overwhelming response to the Duchy of Lancaster’s invitation to the city’s residents saw more than 2,200 people turn out to give their views on the future of Lancaster Castle. The great John O’Gaunt Gate was thrown open for the four-day public consultation event held last week in the former prison visitor’s centre, where concepts for the castle’s future use were unveiled.

Many hundreds of people took the opportunity to step into the courtyard of the former HMP Lancaster Castle, to visit the exhibition and give their thoughts on the Duchy’s proposals for a mixed-use public space with visitor attraction and boutique hotel. Just over a quarter of visitors filled in a feedback form and recorded their support or opposition to the proposals.

When asked if they supported the proposals, 66 per cent of respondents said yes, 30 per cent said yes with reservations, and two per cent said no (two per cent were unmarked). Those unable to visit the exhibition in person still have chance to express their views through the dedicated consultation website before the feedback deadline of this Sunday 11th November.

Paul Clarke, CEO of the Duchy of Lancaster, was delighted with the turnout. He said:
“We expected there would be a large amount of interest in the proposals for the use of the castle now the prison has closed, and we were not disappointed. To take forward our vision of integrating the castle into the life of the city and enabling more people to use and enjoy it, the support of the local community will be absolutely vital, so we are very pleased that people took the time to visit the exhibition, ask questions and give us their thoughts and ideas.

“We are also pleased that so many people are in support of what we are trying to do, with 96 per cent of people generally in favour. We will of course review all the comments, in particular the reservations some people had, and will see where there are improvements or alterations that can be made ahead of any future planning application.”

Following the closure of the prison earlier this year, the Duchy has worked with heritage experts Malcolm Reading Consultants to identify potential future uses for the castle. The proposals put forward at the exhibition aim to end the physical and psychological separation of the castle from the city of Lancaster, to encourage visitors and local residents to use the castle and its precincts, and to ensure the building is preserved and has a sustainable future.

The feedback will now be formally analysed and, following completion of the Duchy’s financial viability studies, a planning application will be drawn up and submitted by early 2014,. It is hoped work would start by the end of 2014 and the new development could be open by spring 2017.

• The deadline for feedback submitted by post or through the website is midnight on Sunday, November 11th.

Free parking for Lancaster and Morecambe's Christmas shoppers

Shoppers will be able to enjoy free parking at selected times in Lancaster and Morecambe in the run up to Christmas.

From 22nd November until 20th December, all the city council's car parks will again be free to use after 6.00pm for late night Thursday shopping.

You can also park for free at council car parks in Lancaster and Morecambe on Sundays between 25th November and 23rd December.  Evening parking in Morecambe is already free.

Market Gate car park in Lancaster is also providing free parking on these days as well as for late night Thursday shopping.

Queen Street assault: man charged

A 40 year old man who was arrested following an incident outside the Joiners Arms in Queen Street, Morecambe, has now been charged in connection with the offence.

He is Christopher Kearns of Marine Road East, Morecambe who has been charged with section 18 causing grievous bodily harm with intent and has been remanded in custody to appear before Lancaster Magistrates at 10.00am today (7th November 2012).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Thousands enjoy Lancaster Firework Spectacular

Thousands of people made their way into Lancaster this Saturday to enjoy what proved to be the most magnificent Lancaster Firework Spectacular ever.

This year’s dazzling display was launched for the very first time from the roof of historic Lancaster Castle which provided the perfect backdrop for the drama of the display as well as increasing the height of the display which could be seen for miles.

Lancaster City Council estimates more than 14,500 watched the drama unfold from the designated viewing areas with countless more taking advantage of other vantage points around the city and beyond and tuning into Radio Lancashire's live coverage of the event from Quay Meadow.

The Fireworks Spectacular was the culmination of a busy programme of activities taking place over the weekend in Lancaster.

On Friday evening  ‘Light Up Lancaster’, brought to the city by arts partners from across the district (see earlier story) saw hundreds of people stroll through the squares and alleyways at the heart of Lancaster  to celebrate its heritage through stunning illuminated performances of music, art and dance.

On Saturday, Witches and Guy Fawkes themed events including guided walks, tours, storytelling, arts and craft activities were well attended while others enjoyed entertainment in the city centre provided by samba band Batala and dance and music groups from Lancaster University.

Lancaster Visitor Information Centre reported Saturday being its busiest day this year and businesses in Lancaster also reaped the benefit of more people being attracted to the city centre to enjoy activities both before and after the event.

Jerry North, Manager of St. Nicholas Arcade, said: "Feedback from city centre retailers on the weekend’s events has been very positive.  Town was very busy all day Saturday and there was a great festival atmosphere as people arrived early to join in the day’s celebrations. 

"Many businesses did very well both before and after this year’s Firework Spectacular, especially the food and drink outlets.”

"It really was a fantastic event and our thanks must go to the Duchy for allowing us to fire from the castle and create such an incredible display," added Gill Haigh, the Council's Assistant Head of Community Engagement.

“There was a good mix of both visitors and local residents and with the additional attractions of ‘Light Up Lancaster’ the evening before and the events which took place throughout Saturday, Lancaster really showcased what it has to offer.  It was also a fantastic occasion for local people to take pride in the city’s culture and heritage as well as being great news again for the local economy.

“With all the feedback we receive we will continue to work with all our partners including businesses to ensure the continued development of Lancaster's most highly attended event."

• If you would like to offer the council your feedback on this year’s weekend of events, send an email to  

Photographs courtesy Lancaster City Council

Light Up Lancaster wows the crowds

The Bell Tower - one of many spectacular Light Up Lancaster events last Friday

Dem Bones exhibit

Amazing lanterns in Market Square stun onloookers

Ludus dancers in Sun Square

The Northern Lights Orchestra
There were many surprises to delight, amuse and amaze at the first ever Light Up Lancaster event on Friday, the second major event highlighting the Lancaster Arts City campaign.

As night fell, the city’s beautiful buildings and squares were illuminated and animated by music, film, dance and art.

The often overlooked Sun Square had its chance to shine and the events there were particularly impressive. Lancaster-based theatre company, imitating the dog, produced a specially commissioned film which saw the historic Music Room become ivyclad, attracting giant butterflys and the odd spider crawling up the wall.

Sun Square was also the setting for Against The Wall, as crowds watched Ludus Dance unveil the history of Lancaster through contemporary dance, haunting cello compositions performed live and film projections.

Meanwhile, in Market Square, Dem Bones featured art works from the Recuerdos De Mexico exhibition by Sue and Pete Flowers of Melling’s Green Close Studios apparently escaping through the windows of the City Museum while giant skeleton lanterns paraded outside and the Northern Lights Orchestra played.

Music of a more improvised kind could be heard in Dalton Square which hosted More Music’s illuminated instrumental Bell Tower accompanied by Flying Colours fire poi performers.

Elsewhere in the city centre, The Long Walk Chinese Orchestra lit by Chinese lanterns played in Marketgate, dance flashmobs strutted their stuff and some empty shop windows were transformed to recreate stories from Lancaster’s past.

Light Up Lancaster also complemented the Fireworks Spectacular which took place on Saturday in a bid to encourage visitors to plan a weekend stay in the city.

Light Up Lancaster was a First Friday event organised to promote Lancaster Arts City. Every First Friday of the month, Lancaster Arts Partners aim to offer a range of free events encouraging residents and visitors alike to see the area afresh and try out something new on the arts scene.

There’s also a new Lancaster Arts City free app which can be downloaded by registering at The app is simple to use and includes helpful search features and a map featuring all the participating venues such as Lancaster’s Grand Theatre and The Platform in Morecambe.

• For more information on Lancaster Arts City, First Fridays and the free app, visit

Assaulted man in critical condition after Queen Street attack

(Updated): Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious assault outside the Joiners Arm in Morecambe in the early hours of this morning, who is now in a critical condition.

At around 1.15am, a 55-year-old man was the victim of an unprovoked attack outside the Queen Street pub, when an unidentified man approached him and punched him in the face before fleeing the scene.

The man was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary but then transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital. He is in a critical condition.

Crime Scene Investigators have carried out a thorough examination of the scene and a major investigation has been launched.

Detective Superintendent Martin Kay said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed what happened to come forward and contact the police.

“This is a particularly nasty assault where the victim is gravely ill in hospital and the person responsible needs to be caught and dealt with.

“The victim’s family have been informed and are with him at hospital and we have specially trained officers supporting them."

Update: A 40-year-old man from Morecambe has been arrested on suspicion of assault and will be questioned by detectives.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster police on 101.

Gillow lines up Kilcawley Family and more for November Folk Nights

The Kilcawley Family - at the Robert Gillow on Thursday
The Kilcawley Family web site

There's good news for folk music fans this week, with Lancaster Robert Gillow's announced line up of acts for November which includes appearances by the Kilcawley Family and the welcome return of John Harper.

Previously run by ace musician Tony Cooke, who has now moved south, he's handed over the organisation of Thursday Folk Nights to The Robert Gillow itself. The Robert Gillow is taking music very seriously as part of its attraction and we look forward to seeing folk nights continue to grow.

Thursday 8th November 2012 - The Kilcawley Family
The Kilcawley Family are an old-time country band featuring guitar, autoharp and harmonica. They're regularly heard in best folk clubs and pubs in London, Newcastle and around the country. You might have heard them during the Lancaster Music Festival at The Robert Gillow and The Lord Ashton and if you did, we're sure you'll be back. If you didn't there's a second chance for you right here.
• More info:

Thursday 15th November 2012 - Hard Times
An old Gillow favourite returns. Hard Times comprises Geoff Wilkinson (bass), Gordon Johnston (banjo, mandolin, guitar) and Laurie Johnston (everything) – all superb musicians playing a mixture of traditional and modern tunes and songs from the UK, the USA and Europe.  They are some of the finest acoustic musicians around. No further explanation is necessary – the band is simply brilliant.

Thursday 22nd November 2012 - Fables
New for 2012, Fables have come storming on to the Gillow scene ... four beautiful girls, two guitars and with some of the most beautiful harmonies around there music takes folk to a whole new level... They regularly headline at the University, and it's time we saw more of them in the City.
“We all love folk music, from Leonard Cohen to Bon Iver to Fleetwood Mac” band member Louise Turner told student newspaper SCAN earlier this year. She shares her co-stars’ delight in converting pop songs to their favourite genre. “We love making non-folky songs folky," she added. "It’s really good to be able to fit harmonies or ‘twiddly bits’ into songs that don’t originally use them, in order to make them our own.”

Thursday 27 November 2012 - John Harper Another welcome visit from this exceptionally talented guitarist and singer.  John Harper is a regular Lancaster entertainer, who always dazzles everyone with his powerful renditions of British and American contemporary songs, his own compositions and traditional folksong. He offers music to make you think, music to make you sing and reaffirm that the best live music is to be heard at the Gillow!
• More info:

• The Robert Gillow is at 64 Market Street, Lancaster, LA1 1HP. Tel: 01524 36092. Official web site:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Penny Street assualt: CCTV released

Police have issued CCTV images of a man they would like to speak with after a Carnforth couple were assaulted in Lancaster city centre on Friday 12th October.

The offence took place around 1.00am on Penny Street when a 20-year-old man was enjoying a night out with his 19 year old girlfriend.

As the couple walked past Clinton Cards, a man launched an unprovoked assault on the man, punching him to the head and body. His girlfriend intervened and was punched in the face, before the man and another man with him made off.

Fortunately, neither victim sustained any serious injuries.

Police believe the offender, who is described as being around 20 or 21 years of age with a skinhead, and his friend, had been refused entry into Hustle shortly before the incident.

PC Sally Ward from Lancaster Police said: “I would appeal to anybody that recognises either of the men in the CCTV images to come forward and contact police.

“We want to speak with the man pictured in the CCTV image holding a grey hooded top over his arm in connection with the assault. I’d also be keen to hear from anybody that recognises or can provide a name for the man he was with.”

Anyone with any information should call Lancashire Police on 101.

Mobile phone robberies: Blackpool man charged

A Blackpool man will appear before Lancaster Magistrates Court today charged with five counts of theft and one of robbery.

This follows an alleged incident in Pitt Street, Lancaster, in the early hours of Saturday morning where a woman had her handbag and Iphone stolen and a number of alleged incidents in a Lancaster nightclub on the same day where women had their mobile phones removed from their handbags.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Half Revealed, Half Concealed - new exhibition from Wendy Stuart at The Dukes

A keen interest in travelling, exploration and sailing has inspired the latest exhibition at The Dukes gallery in Lancaster, which opens on Monday 5th November.

Wendy Stuart has been an artist for many years and her latest exhibition – Half Revealed, Half Concealed – runs until the 21st November.

Originally a representational painter, while studying at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, Wendy broadened her outlook.
Using paint and collage, her new work reflects a sense of disjointed pathways on land or sea.
Wendy’s visual language reads like a kind of chart or map which have been her original source materials.

“I used them experimentally to start creating art forms, illustrating my experiences. Travelling to many locations, my thoughts brought me around to including minute glimpses of land destinations, half revealed, half concealed, where sea journeys begin and end, “ said Wendy, who lives in Chorley.

Wendy, who originally studied art in London, lived in Yorkshire and Cumbria before moving to Lancashire where she taught art and design.

After retiring, Wendy taught painting to adults and spent more time painting for herself and working on a book based on a Lakeland journal written by her great great grandfather which had been in her family for 200 years.

When not painting, Wendy fills her time with a wide variety of hobbies including sailing, brass band playing, parachuting and caving.

• The Dukes gallery is open from 10.00am to 11.00pm, Monday to Saturday.  Please call the box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.