Friday, 13 March 2015

Costain: Further lane closure with traffic lights on Morecambe Road next week

New traffic and pedestrian management layout

Costain, the BAE partners who coincidentally won the Heysham- M6 Link construction contract, tell us today that, similar to this week, traffic light signals and a lane closure will be needed on Morecambe Road near Lancaster and Morecambe College entrance from next Monday 16 - Wednesday 18 March.

Yet again, Costain have left it almost to the last possible moment to notify us of major traffic management changes planned long ago.

They invite anyone with concerns over these changes and the new plans described below to visit them at their Visitors Centre on Torrisholme Road on Wednesday 18 March 2015 from 4pm – 7pm when they will have representatives from the construction team available to answer queries relating to these works.

Next phase
A further major phase change of traffic management layout will be introduced from the end of March. The changes for traffic are as follows:

  • The live carriageway of Morecambe Road will move closer to the college playing fields and run on the newly laid permanent surface that will form part of the new junction. This will straighten the current line of the temporary road and remove the bends that follow the old roundabout.
  • The location of the Hadrian Road give-way junction onto Morecambe Road will also move as part of the new set-up.
  • The pedestrian footpath will re-open on the college side of the new junction.  Costain will use the new dropped kerbs and islands to provide access from The Way up to the college entrance.
  • There will be no footpath available to cross the A683 bypass. The temporary pedestrian crossing will be removed. Pedestrians will need to use the new footpath located on the college side of the junction.
  • Entry onto the A683 bypass will remain the same as currently in place; traffic from Lancaster can turn left off Morecambe Road. Traffic from Morecambe must continue to the ASDA roundabout and either turn around or take Ovangle Road for Heysham.
  • From 23 June 2015 - 24 March 2016 part of Foundry Lane will be closed to allow building of a bridge extension.

Costain tell us they will continue to monitor the traffic management once implemented. You can find out little more at

‘Leg it with Eric’ to raise cash for charity this Saturday

Lancaster City Council has joined forces with Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club to organise a very special Eric Morecambe themed charity event this Saturday (14th March) as part of this year's "Red Nose" fund raising in the area.
To celebrate the swift return of the Eric Morecambe statue to its rightful place on the prom after it was vandalised, an ‘Eric’ inspired 3k fun run will be taking place tomorrow.

Starting at 11.00am the fun run, which takes place the day after Red Nose Day, is also an opportunity for runners to raise money for Comic Relief.

While there is no entry fee, entrants will be able to make a small donation to the charity, or raise money via sponsorship.

Councilor Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said: “Over the years we seem to have become complacent about our link to one of the greatest comedians of all time. The vandalism to the statue made us all sit up and galvanised the spirit of the people of Morecambe to just how important Eric is to all of us.

“This event not only provides us with the opportunity to celebrate Eric’s legacy but also raise money for a good cause at the same time.”

Louise Goddard with daughters Alice (6) and Olivia (9) from Lancaster limber up in preparation for the Eric Morecambe fun run.
The fun run will start and finish at the Eric Morecambe statue and is especially aimed at families and fun runners, but more regular competitors are very welcome.

There will be an informal and festive atmosphere and entrants are urged to wear Eric Morecambe themed fancy dress for the event. Eric style glasses will be provided to get people in the mood.
Although entries can be taken on the day we prefer anyone interested to enter in advance. Times will be recorded and there will be prizes for all finishers.

Race organiser at Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club, Angus Murray, said: “The Club is very pleased to have the chance to be joint organisers of this fun run which we are sure will be a great family event as well as a good opportunity to raise money for good causes. We hope that lots of local families and children will take part.”

Morecambe Library Wilde/Ransome talk to lift lid on scandal and scholarship

Oscar Wilde and Arthur Ransome

A lecture and film at Morecambe Library on Friday 20 March 2015 at 2pm are set to shed new light on how Arthur Ransome, world-famous author of Swallows and Amazons, restored Oscar Wilde’s reputation for genius – but embroiled himself in a notorious libel suit in the process.

 Local author and filmmaker Anne Gaelan’s talk 'Wilde/Ransome' describes how Ransome restored public recognition of Wilde’s genius only a decade after his death.  The publication of Ransome's book 'Oscar Wilde: A critical study' in 1912 led to a famous libel suit brought by Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas (nicknamed 'Bosie'), which Ransome won.  However he himself may have become convinced that Douglas had suffered enough from it as he insisted that the offending passages be omitted from later editions of the book.

The talk highlights Ransome’s direct connection to the local area, corrects inaccuracies and casts new light on Wilde’s relationship with Douglas.  It is accompanied by two films made in conjunction with the Lancaster Filmmakers Co-Op, in which the main characters are played by young actors from Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

The entry fee to the lecture is £5/£4 concessions.

Police Warn on Phone Fraud that has cost elderly victims thousands

Lancashire Police have issued an urgent fraud warning as residents in across the county continue to fall victim to a telephone fraud.

Since December last year, there have been 65 reported incidents across Lancashire with around £115k stolen from the victims.

In each instance, the victim has been contacted via phone by someone purporting to be a police officer. The story used by the offenders appears to change slightly each time but all involve the caller saying that the victim has been targeted for some sort of crime relating to their bank or bank card.

The victim is asked for their bank account details or they are asked to transfer a substantial amount of money to a ‘safe’ account. In some instances the victim is asked to withdraw funds from the relevant account as it needs to be checked for fingerprinting by a ‘police officer’ who then attends the victim’s address and takes their money.

The offenders have targeted residents in Burnley, Padiham, Blackburn, Rishton, Mellor and Clayton le dale, mainly aged in their seventies and eighties. Reports of a similar nature have also been received in Central Lancashire in Preston and Bamber Bridge and in Blackpool.

Detective Inspector Martin Melvin said: “These are despicable crimes against vulnerable, elderly victims.

“While this has happened across the country people in Lancashire are falling victim to this scam and I would like to remind people to be vigilant and if you get this type of phone call, report it to the police and/ or your bank before transferring any money into another account or agreeing to hand any of your cash over.

“People who commit these offences will often target the elderly posing as officials to gain their confidence and trust. No police officer or other official body will ever ask for your bank details or would ever ask you to withdraw or transfer funds.

“If you have an elderly friend or relative, please let them know that this is happening so they can avoid becoming a potential victim.”
Det Insp Melvin added: “We are working with colleagues throughout Lancashire and the rest of the country and will do everything we can to track down the heartless criminals committing these offences, defrauding these people, out of in some cases, their life savings.

“If you have any information about this incident or suspect that you may have fallen victim to a similar deception then please contact the police or Action Fraud.”

• Anybody with information can contact police on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at

• Similarly, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online

• A well established and highly respected independent UK home care provider, Home Instead Senior Care has a number of useful resources, sharing useful information and helpful resources which will help family members and elderly people in their everyday lives. This includes a great guide on Senior  Fraud Protection:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Comic artist Oliver East back in Millom for Live Draw and Talk this Saturday

Oliver East: Photo: Yorick de Munnik
Oliver East, creator of the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival-funded project The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn will be giving a talk and Live Draw at Hardknott on Track, the new real ale pub, Station Building, Millom this Saturday, 14th March between 1.00 - 4.00pm.

Oliver, whose books also include Trains Are Mint, published by Blank Slate Books is one of a new wave of comic creators who takes both art and comics in uncharted directions. His work is pithy, humorous and ironic, celebrating not the sublime but the everyday and transitory. He was the worthy recipient of the first Lakes International Comic Art Festival artist commission in association with The Brewery Arts Centre Kendal.

During the harsh winter of 2014, he began his most ambitious project to date, walking walked over 140 miles in ten stages from Arnside train station to Carlisle train station keeping as close as possible to the Cumbrian Coastal Train Line. 

The result was The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn, commissioned by The Lakes International Comics Art Festival and Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, supported using public funding by Arts Council England and published as eight comics with Comics Four and Five covering his journey to and through Millom. 

In addition to this event, an exhibition of Oliver’s drawings is on show at Millom Discovery Centre until the 13th March 2015.

• The Hardknott on Track is at Millom Station Buildings, Station Road, Millom, Cumbria LA18 5AA. No telephone as yet: call the Hardknott Brewery (01229 779309) for information or visit their web site at | Find them on Google Maps

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 11th to 19th March 2015 by

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

A good week for new releases. Family animation comes with Home (U) and drama is represented by Love is Strange (15) and Run All Night (15). In addition there is romance with Suite Francaise (15) and science fiction adventure in The Divergent Series: Insurgent (12A).

Films no longer being screened include Jupiter Ascending; The Wedding Ringer; The Theory of Everything; Ex Machina and Selma. It is looking like The Boy Next Door will soon vanish from the screens. However we have the return of the film Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Science fiction is well represented at the moment with the release last week of Chappie; the appearance at the end of this week of The Divergent Series: Insurgent and the continuing screening of Project Almanac. Indeed there is a Divergent/Insurgence double bill showing at the Vue on the 18th March. Unfortunately there is no horror film showing at the moment. However by way of compensation, there is a good selection of comedy dramas with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Focus and Unfinished Business.

High culture is here in abundance. There is ballet with Swan Lake, opera with La Traviata and theatre with Love's Labour's Won and Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

A film of note is Love is Strange, which follows the tribulations of a Gay relationship. In addition, The Campus in the City continues to screen foreign films with a look at Chilean propaganda with No.


Fifty Shades of Grey
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson
This is a much hyped film with a record for ticket pre-sales. It is based on the best selling 2011 novel by E. L. James. Anastasia Steel (Johnson) is a student who interviews the publicity shy billionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) as a college assignment. There is an immediate sexual chemistry between the two and they embark on an affair. However Grey has a desire to control everything in his life and his relationships have a strong sado-masochistic element. Hence he requires Anastasia to sign a contract if she wants the relationship to continue that will allow Grey to subjugate her. The film is an accurate portrayal of the book, though it omits the more sordid sex scenes. Essentially the film is soft porn for a female audience.

Director: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Will Smith, Gerald McRaney, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Robert Taylor
Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a career con artist who, early in the film, takes on an inexperienced Jess Barrett (Robbie) as an apprentice. There is a sexual chemistry between the two, but Nicky and Jess part. Years later Nicky is running a con for the billionaire motorsport owner Rafael Garriga (Santoro), but finds that Jess is now Santoro's girlfriend. The chemistry again starts between Jess and Nicky and we find they are both trying to con Garriga. However the latter seeks revenge. The movie is something of a dark romance with some violence and a good amount of comedy. It is well acted in exciting locations and is sure to entertain.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Sophie Cookson, Taron Egerton.
A spoof spy adventure based on the comic book series by Dave Gibbons and Mark Miller. Kingsman is an international covert spying agency and they recruit members from street wise misfits. A chavvy gang member Egysy (Egerton) is recruited by the ultra suave agent Harry Hart (Firth). To be accepted Egysy must become both refined and also pass a grueling 'boot camp' where he will learn how to be an agent. In the meantime the eccentric billionaire Valentine (Jackson) is planning to distribution free SIM cards, an act that will trigger the eradication of most of mankind. This is a very 'tongue in cheek' movie, in equal measures a violent action adventure and a comedy. There are outrageous gadgets and wonderful set pieces, with the movie being part James Bond and part every other spy movie you have ever seen. Irreverent and unmissable.

Suite Francaise
Director: Saul Dibb
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts
Set in 1940 occupied France, this is a love story based on the unfinished 2004 novel by Irene Nemirovsky. French woman Lucille Angellier (Williams) waits for news of her husband who is a prisoner of war. A regiment of German soldiers arrive at their town and the soldiers are billeted in the French homes. In this way Lt. Bruno von Falk moves in with Lucille and over time the two fall in love. However the war ensures the course of the romance will not be smooth. This is a very competent production with excellent acting. It does not break any new ground and a more adventurous film may have made more of the material in Nemirovsky's novel. However as a sentimental romance the film works and is worth a trip to the cinema.

The Boy Next Door
Director: Rob Cohen
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson.
Claire Peterson (Lopez) is a lonely English teacher. She is a single parent looking after her teenage son Kevin (Nelson) following separation from her unfaithful husband. A man half her age, Noah (Guzman), moves into the house across the street. Initially he helps Claire with chores, but their closeness results in a night of passion. Claire realizes this was a mistake and abruptly finishes the relationship. Noah however shows his unstable side. He becomes her stalker and threatens her, his obsession becoming ever stronger till there is a final culmination at the end of the film. The movie however has attracted rather poor reviews as both the plot and the dialogue are a little 'clunky'. Also Guzman proves to be more convincing as a handsome hulk than a threatening obsessive. However this is an acceptable entry into the category an erotic drama.

Unfinished Business
Director: Ken Scott
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller
Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) owns a small business and he takes his two associates Tim (Wilkinson) and Mike (Franco) with him to Germany in order to close an essential and very profitable deal. However he finds he is competing for the work against his former employer Chuck Portnoy (Miller). In addition, every aspect of the German trip goes radically wrong including clashes with Oktoberfest, a gay fetish festival, a UN summit and the Berlin Marathon. The film is a comedy with plenty of scope for real laughs. However the film suffers from a rather overly contrived plot, somewhat mediocre acting and poor reviews. This is a comedy that will raise a smile, but not much more.

Appeal following collision in Pilling

Police are appealing for information following a collision in Pilling yesterday afternoon in which a motorcyclist was seriously injured.

The incident happened at around 12.25pm on Tuesday 10th March on the A588, Head Dyke Lane in Pilling.

It is thought that a Honda motorcycle travelling towards Lancaster has been in collision with the rear end of a Fiat Stilo car.

The 66 year old local man was taken by air ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital with injuries to his head and knee, where he remains in a serious condition.

The road was closed for four hours following the collision to facilitate the investigation.

PS Nigel Ralphson of the Road Policing Unit said: “We are keen to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the collision or saw either vehicle in the area prior to the incident. Any information you may have could help us to establish exactly how this collision came to occur.”

• Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 460 of March 10thAlternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at

Lancashire Folk Tales: Dildrum, The King of Cats

Following up on news that the King of Cats touring exhibition is coming to Lancaster (see news story), we thought Lancaster's many cat lovers might like to read the Lancashire legend in full...

One evening, an old gentleman who lived in the middle of Lancashire sat reading in his parlour. Outside, the wind was beginning to growl like a dog that smells strangers and every now and again the rain was dashed against the windows like a handful of gravel; but the curtains were drawn, the wet inclement night was shut out, and inside all was cosy. 

Spectacles on his nose, the old man sat back in his winged chair, and rested his slippered feet on a little footstool. He was reading, and the room round him was quiet. A big grandfather clock ticked away in the parlour, swinging its pendulum backwards and forwards with great solemnity; the stiff paper of the book rustled as the man turned over the pages; and from time to time the ashes in the grate fell with a soft crash and sent a few sparks up the chimney. the room was warm and still, and the flames of the candles burnt brightly and steadily.

Suddenly upon the wide hearth there began to fall a little rain of soot drops, and as they pattered down, the old gentleman put down his book and adjusted his spectacles.

"Ah," he said to himself, "that's the worst of these old-fashioned chimneys. They let the smoke out but they let the rain in too. It must be beginning to splash down outside."

Thereupon he put up his spectacles again, and turned back to his book, but before he had read two sentences there was a fresh fall and the fire began to hiss.

"Umph!" he said. "We must have a starling in the chimney after all. Drat those birds! the house is never quiet when they're about."

Back at his book he turned again, but this time before he could even find his place there was a fresh fall of soot. The fire dimmed strangely and went down, the candle flames began to flicker and to shake-and then from out of the mouth of the chimney there sprang a great grey cat. He was wild outlandish cat, with fur matted with the rain, a long lean body, one green eye and one brown one, and a quick eager look on his face. 

Resting his paws on the footstool, he looked up searching into the old man's face, opened his mouth and the, in a perfectly clear and intelligible voice said, "Tell Dildrum that Doldrum's dead!" - and then leaping back into the chimney, he kicked down more soot, and vanished.

The old man could scarce believe his eyes. Surely the cat had been real. there could be little doubt of that for there on the hearth were the patched of fallen soot, and there on the footstool were the marks of two sooty paws! But had the cat really spoken? had he really uttered those strange words about Dildrum and Doldrum? The old man blinked with confusion and wondered if he could trust his senses.

Just then, the door opened. In came the old man's wife and after her, Julius their own cat. Julius was no ragamuffin of a cat. He was handsome from top to toe. His fur was a lovely quaker.

"Here's your tea, Matthew," said the old woman. "I've brought you a dish of your favourite china tea, and two little...

"Why Matthew, I declare that you aren't listening to a word that I'm saying."

"I beg your pardon, my dear. I wasn't listening, I must confess."

"What has happened to you? You look as if you'd had a shock."

"Not a shock, my dear-but something has happened tonight that has made me wonder if I can trust my senses anymore."

"Then first take your tea," said his wife, "and tell me all about it as quietly as you can."

"Well, my dear," began the old gentleman, "I don't know that I can expect you to believe me, but this - I take my oath on it - this is what happened tonight i this very room. I was sitting here in this seat, with my legs crossed on this footstool, reading my favourite old book, Robinson Crusoe. I remember I had just got to the point where...."

"Yes, Dear, you can omit that detail. Go on."

"Well. just as I was reading, down that chimney, believe it or not, came a cat, a great grey creature, with one green eye and one brown eye, and a body as lean as a rake..."

The old man paused in his narrative for as he came to the description of the grey cat, Julius pricked up his ears, got up, and turned so that he sat facing the old man. Then he fixed upon his master's face so intent and human a look that the old gentleman could not go on with his tale.

"Just look at old Julius! What's the matter, old pussy? Do you want to hear, eh? Well, I'll tell you."

So, half forgetting his wife, the old man began to talk to the cat.

"Yes, down the chimney came this great grey messenger. He leapt out on the hearth, put his two feet upon my footstool, opened his mouth and said..."

"Said, Matthew?" interrupted the old woman. "Do you mean to say that this cat spoke?"

"Yes, he spoke as clearly as you or I. "Tell Dildrum," he said..."

At this, Julius opened his wide blue eyes and he looked more intently than ever.

"'Tell Dildrum, he said, '" went on the old man, "'that Doldrum is dead.'"

"Well, I never heard anything so funny in all my life! Dildrum and Doldrum! Tweedledum and Tweedledee! 'Tell Dildrum', he said - why, what's the matter, Julius?"

Julius had leapt with all four feet now on to the footstool. In his eyes there was a queer look, half of sorrow, half of excitement and triumph. then suddenly, he too opened his mouth, and in a rich and princely voice, he said "Alas! Is Doldrum dead? why that makes me the King of the Cats!"

Thereupon, the flames of the candles began to flicker again. The fire sank and dimmed. Julius - or Dildrum - leapt on to the hearth, and with one prodigious spring, vanished up the chimney.

When they had recovered from their shock, the two old people ran out and looked up; but there was nothing to be seen. The great sagging clouds were passing over the sky. The fringes of the trees were scratching at the roof of the house; but no Julius was to be seen. 

He had gone to his kingdom and was already sitting in state with a golden crown on his princely head.

• You can view the sculpture of a cat artist Julie Miles (one of the exhibitors) created last year here on her blog

• The King of Cats runs at Lancaster City Museum from Saturday 21st March until Sunday 17th May 2015. Entry to the museum is free but costs apply for the workshops (Workshop information here). Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday. The museum is run by Lancashire County Council on behalf of Lancaster City Council

• For more information about the exhibition or the workshops telephone 01524 64637 or email Alternatively, visit

Lancashire Folk Tales brought to Life in new City Museum exhibition

Come and meet Boggarts, Haunted Hares, and Talking Cats, and be immersed in windswept moorland, snow capped hills and icy becks at Lancaster City Museum later this month, when a touring exhibition of contemporary art based on Lancashire folklore, King of Cats, arrives on Saturday 21st March.

Taking its inspiration the folktales of Lancashire and responding to them with 21st century wit and wonder, spectral cats, unearthly black dogs and shape changing girls will haunt the exhibition – as will earthenware geese and, of course, the King of the Cats himself.

The 'King of Cats' is a touring exhibition, funded by Arts Council England and features a variety of artwork by five talented artists: Jacqueline Harris, Christopher Rainham, Julie Miles, Patricia Ramsden and Marjan Wouda.

"Our exhibition showcases the work of artists who have each been inspired to create art work for the exhibition, in their own style, inspired by local places, stories and folklore," Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's manager at the city museum explains.

"Visitors will be able to see a wide variety of creativity as their work ranges from more traditional paintings and drawings, to sculptures, videos and work in clay.

"Jacqueline Harris has also helped us with the stories we've used and will share them in her own way. Visitors can immerse themselves in the people and stories that inspired the exhibition and listen to recordings of new folk tales that are being told in Lancashire today."

The exhibition takes its name from a tradition is often heard in South Lancashire, a tale told of a gentleman who was sitting cosily in his parlour one evening when he was interrupted by the appearance of a cat, which came down the chimney, and called out, "Tell Dildrum, Doldrum's dead!"

He was naturally startled by the occurrence; and when, shortly afterwards, his wife entered, he told her what had happened, and their own cat, which had accompanied her, exclaimed, "Is Doldrum dead?" and immediately rushed up the chimney, and was heard of no more.

Of course there were numberless conjectures upon such a remarkable event, but the general opinion appears to be that Doldrum had been king of cat-land, and that Dildrum was the next heir.

The exhibition will be supported by accompanying artist workshops:

Bookarts with artist Patricia Ramsden on Sunday 12th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Spend a day exploring the delights and challenges of book arts. Using a range of folding and sewing techniques you will explore variations to create a collection of simple book forms that can be used for collecting ideas, sketching, notes and can be taken away to be expanded on by the participants.

Suitable for all who would like to explore creating their own books, paper folding and 3D techniques. Teachers who are looking at Design and Technology and Art modules and exploring creative ways of documentation within literacy.

Patricia’s background is in Fine Art and she would describe herself as a multidisciplinary artist who uses a wide range of media to communicate her art in a contemporary way. She is process led and works from ‘Valley Artists Studios‘ in Rossendale. Her work reflects a sense of historical documentation. Recent work incorporates printmaking and text based installations.

Level: Suitable for all levels of experience including those new to book arts. All materials and tools will be provided for use within the workshop.

King of the Cats – Storytelling for Literacy'with artist Jacqueline Harris on Wednesday 15th April 10am – 4pm

Suitable for teachers at Key Stage 2, this one day course will provide a solid grounding in how to use storytelling techniques to develop children’s literacy skills. It will look at ideas and strategies for supporting children to create and tell their own stories. In the morning it will focus on ways to develop and tell oral stories. In the afternoon it will concentrate on how to encourage children to use these skills as a basis for developing written pieces and explore techniques to help them gain the confidence and motivation to put pen to paper. Included in the workshop fee will be a booklet outlining the techniques used and a list of available resources.

Jacqueline Harris is a storyteller, writer, drama practitioner and creative learning consultant who believes that we are all storytellers and that through engaging with stories we can become aware of and explore our creativity. She has freelanced across the education sector from Key Stage 1 – HE for fourteen years and previously taught in secondary education where she has been Head of Drama in three schools.

Art by Julie Miles
Characterful Creature Creations with artist Julie Miles on Sunday 19th April 10am – 4pm

Join Julie in this workshop to explore her imagination and learn how she creates her creatures in clay. From exploring the King of the Cats exhibition as a starting point to create your own characters from the tales using scribbles and sketches.

From there you will learn how to create your own clay heads from a single sheet of clay. Manipulating, pushing and forming this versatile material into one of the characters from the stories or creating a character of your own.

No experience needed - just enthusiasm and a little imagination. Suitable for teaching literacy using it as a starting point in class for creative writing, Design technology for use of tools and Art.

Julie's work has always been inspired by nature and landscape around her and is probably best know for her exquisite porcelain sculptures of natural objects or porcelain vessels. Julie creates larger scale installation pieces for exhibitions and display, including a full size cloak of ceramics crow feathers to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch Trials. Level: suitable for beginners to the more advanced in clay techniques. All techniques will be taught step by step so don’t be shy and come and play. All other tools and materials will be provided for use in the workshop.

Interview with Artist Julie Miles from Arteach UK on 'The King of the Cats' Touring Exhibition

Marjan Wouda
Clay the Wouda Way with artist Marjan Wouda on Sunday 26th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Starting with a brief exploration of the sculptures in the King of the Cats exhibition Marjan will lead you into the making a number of clay animal sculptures. Marjan will reveal her very own, original approach to the subject, exploring posture, bone structure and surface texture.

You will enjoy discovering new ways with clay, experimenting with imprinted and moulded textures, and developing your confidence of working with clay.

By the end of the day you will have made several small pieces which will be fired by the artist. This one day workshop is particularly suited to teachers keen to develop their confidence working in three dimensions. All you need to bring is: your pinny and your camera.

Suitable for teaching literacy using it as a starting point in class for creative writing, Design technology for use of tools and Art.

Perhaps best known for her bronzes and welded metal public sculptures, Marjan Wouda’s first love – in art – is clay. It is this medium that allowed her to find her voice and make sculpture in a way that is uniquely hers. Level: Suitable to all levels of ability from beginners to experienced sculptors and potters. All tools and materials will be provided

• Listen to Sculptor, Marjan Wouda Sculpture​ podcast interview, talk about her work and the touring exhibition 'The King of the Cats'

Art by Christopher Rainham
Rain Washes and Resist Moors with artist Christopher Rainham on Wednesday 29th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Join international artist and illustrator Christopher Rainham and discover and develop your painting and drawing skills. Inspired by The King of Cats exhibition you will explore a broad range of techniques and approaches using a selection of drawing materials and acrylic paint. Use scraffitto to create a windswept moorland landscape, create a flock of Starlings with stencils and masks or explore washes and resists to describe a looming sky full of rain.

Christopher Rainham’s work has always been inspired by his experience of the natural world, and the way flora and fauna is woven into language, the explanations of things, stories and beliefs. Animals and flowers and birds are often characters in myths and religious writings, used as metaphors for things we can’t explain.

Level: Suitable for teachers looking at literacy starting points and Art modules. For all levels of ability this workshop will give those who have never used acrylic paint an expressive toolkit of techniques to guide their creative endeavours and expand the approaches of those familiar with the medium to find new ways to create images. All other tools and materials will be provided for use in the workshop.  

• The King of Cats runs until Sunday 17th May 2015. Entry to the museum is free but costs apply for the workshops. Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday. The museum is run by Lancashire County Council on behalf of Lancaster City Council. 

• For more information about the exhibition or the workshops telephone 01524 64637 or email Alternatively, visit

Monday, 9 March 2015

Review: 'Halton Mill LECH series' - Dukes Art Exhibition

Halton Mill LECH series
Industrial Decline and Abstract Art, an exhibition at
The Dukes Gallery, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1QE
Runs Monday 2 - Sunday 29 March 2015.
Free admission

Review by Peter Clark

Halton Mill LECH series is a selection of twelve canvases by the artist Catriona Stamp on display in the gallery at the Dukes.

The term 'Industrial decline' is not normally associated with artistic creativity, but for local artist Catriona Stamp, the decay of one derelict building resulted in the creation of a series of emotive abstract canvases.  The building in questions is Halton Mill, which in the 1950's, became the home of the Luneside Engineering Company or LECH.  In the late 1990s Halton Mill fell into decay.   Stamp seized the opportunity to photograph the interior of the building before its subsequent renovation to record the patterns of wear and deterioration.  These images she layered together, with some colour enhancement, to produce a series of digital prints on canvas.  The work is a celebration of randomness over photography and the beauty that can be found in the inconsequential.

Alongside the works is a poster of the history of Luneside Engineering in Halton Mill, and a statement by the artist outlining her technique and approach.

The exhibition gives the impression of a series of abstract paintings, some with rather blocky designs, others with a more linear form.  Colours are typically warm with orange, brown and red predominating, though whites and blues can be found.  All colours are rather muted, in keeping with the spirit of decay.   The works are referred to by numbers rather than names, emphasizing that these are more works of nature rather than created by human hand.

A purist might enjoy the pieces as they are, an abstract assemblage of form and contrasts.  For this reviewer the delight of the images lay in the pictures they evoked in the mind.  It is impossible to look at the piece LECH 4 without seeing an array of poppies.  The lines and whirls of LECH 108 conjures images of fountains.  LECH 128 simulates the dispersion of colour that would result from seeing a landscape through the distortion of a diffraction grating.

It is with piece 6A that some of the artists layering technique is evident as the canvas shows the colours and shapes of decay overlaid onto a maintenance document.  A personal favourite is LECH 9A where a line of brown stain falls, like a waterfall from a cliff, whilst in the distance one can sense a promised land beyond.

Stamp is a prolific artist, bookmaker, photographer ex coffin painter and counsellor.  Her work includes installations (objects and sound) and group vocal performances.  She writes that she is influenced by the Japanese Wabi-sabi philosophy or the aesthetic that beauty is found in the "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".  Catriona Stamp is a resident of Lancaster and, rather fittingly, has a studio at the refurbished Halton Mill.

All the works are for sale.  They come in two standard sizes, large and small, retailing for prices up to £220.

Monday 2 March 2015
Peter Clarke

County heralds golden age of rail now approaching

Lancashire County Council has welcomed the announcement that new franchises for rail services across the north will see significant investment, resulting in better connections, faster journeys and more room for passengers on peak-time trains.

Rail North, representing local transport authorities across the region, has worked with the Department for Transport to publish a new invitation to tender for the Northern and Transpennine franchises to start on 1 April 2016. The invitation was published on 27 February 2015 and you can read it here.

The Northern franchise will run for nine years with the option of a one year extension. The TransPennine franchise will run for seven years with the option of a two year extension.

County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "I warmly welcome the publication today of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) documents for the Northern and Trans Pennine franchises.

"The county council has worked hard in partnership with councils right across the region through Rail North and the DfT to develop an investment-led specification that should deliver significantly improved train services over the period of the new franchises.

"For Lancashire this should mean investment in new and refurbished rolling stock, better train services that take advantage of the investment in the Northern Hub and associated electrification schemes, improved facilities at stations and increased funding for Community Rail Partnerships.

"Officers already have had a positive dialogue with bidders for the two franchises and this will continue to ensure they fully take into account Lancashire's needs."

Key points include:

  • Better trains. This will include at least 120 new-build carriages for use on non-electrified routes and the modernisation of all remaining Northern trains.
  • The Pacer units currently in use on the Northern network will be completely phased out by 2020.
  • Trains will be longer with more seats, particularly on the most crowded routes into the North’s largest cities.
  • More train services will run in the week and on Saturdays.
  • There will be more services to more places on Sundays.
  • A new ‘Northern regional’ service for the Northern franchise – reflecting the needs of passengers travelling longer distances.
  • Free wi-fi will be introduced on all trains by 2020 at the latest.
  • Northern stations will be improved, with at least £30 million of investment across the franchise.
  • There will be improved customer service and challenging targets for customer satisfaction.
  • There will be increased support and funding for Community Rail.
  • The new train operators will need to cooperate with local smart ticketing schemes, simplify fares, and improve the door-to-door journey experience for passengers.
  • Long term investment in the franchises is also encouraged.

Witness appeal after cyclist dies in Bolton-le-Sands

Police are appealing for witnesses after a cyclist died following a collision in Bolton le Sands last Friday.

The accident happened at around 4.30pm on Friday 6 March on the A6. Local man Alexander William Clark (87) was cycling on the pavement towards the direction of Carnforth when he fell into oncoming path of a blue Volvo XC70. Mr Clark sustained a serious head injury and was taken to Royal Preston Hospital where he sadly died.

PS Rob Gomery of the West Road Policing Unit said: “This is a tragic accident where a man has sadly lost his life and my thoughts are with his family and friends. An investigation to establish how the incident occurred is underway and I would urge anyone who witnessed what happened to contact us on 101.”

Anyone with information can contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log number 0964 of 6th March.

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.