Friday, 5 June 2015

Lancaster & Morecambe Rail Users Group launch new website

Lancaster & Morecambe Rail Users Group (LMRUG) has launched its new website – It shows what the group is doing and the opportunities and the challenges rail users will face in the next few years.

LMRUG campaigns to improve local rail services and particularly the one between Morecambe and Lancaster. Improvements to this service could help rail and road users by cutting congestion and pollution on Morecambe Road. This is important given the recent publication of the draft Transport Masterplan for Lancaster.

If you would like to find out more about joining LMRUG and supporting its campaigns, please contact the Treasurer, Peter Brown, at

LMRUG is the only rail users/ group to liase with all the three train companies that run trains through Lancaster - Virgin Trains, First Transpenine and Northern Rail and you can find information about developments in their services on the new LMRUG website.

The group issues comment on rail issues to the local press and submits considered responses to rail consultation papers that may affect services in this area.

LMRUG also hopes to run campaigns on various issues that could make a big improvement to our rail services. Their main campaigns will be to ensure that rail users' views are heard in future franchise competition.

If you would like to see improvements in your rail services then please support LMRUG campaigns -
the more people who take part, the greater influence local rail users will have over our rail services and the better chance of getting things done.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Basil Brush brings his ‘Full on Fox Tour’ to Morecambe's Platform

Come and join in the mayhem at the Platform this summer when Basil Brush stops off in Morecambe on his “Full on Fox Tour.”

Basil Brush is a star with an outstanding ability to entertain and make people of all ages laugh and smile. He’s cheeky, irreverent, charming, naughty, quick-witted, scheming and foxy, but at the same time he’s kind, caring and affectionate.

Basil has celebrated over 50 years in entertainment and The Basil Brush Show on BBC TV has been seen by millions of viewers all over the globe from 1968 through to today. The show was BAFTA nominated and voted best comedy show on TV.

Now, Britain's most loveable fox is back on the road along with his TV chum Mr Stephen (aka Chris Pizzey). Together they will take you on a journey of laughs, storytelling and song in a brand new specially written ‘live’ stage show packed with fun and excitement.

A show for all the family and you’ll also be able to meet Basil and Mr Stephen after the show.

So in Basil's words.."Boom Boom!!"

• The show takes place on Saturday 8th August at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £14 adult, £12 child, £42 family and are available from the box office on 01524 582803 or online at

• Official Site:

Neville Staple, the star of ska performs at the Platform

Former member of The Specials, FunBoy3 and The Coventry Automatics, Neville Staple and his band will be performing at the Platform this month.

Neville Staple’s thirty-five year career in the music business is well documented. From the early days with The Coventry Automatics, The Specials and FunBoy3 in the late 1970s and 80s, to The Special Beat and various other collaborations during his solo career from the 90s up to the present day.

Following on from the 2009 Specials reunion and his departure from the band in late 2012, he continues to be a forerunner of the ska movement and thrilling audiences with his own excellent band at venues and festival appearances worldwide.

The event takes place on Saturday 13th June at 8.00pm.

Expect to hear some of Neville’s own material, some arrangements of his very favourite old school ska numbers, as well as some classic hits in the mix.

Tickets cost £14 and available from and are available from the box office on 01524 582803 or online at

• Check out Neville's official site at

• Neville’s autobiography, The Original Rude Boy, was published by Aurum Press in the UK in May 2009.

Views sought on business support in Lancashire

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is leading a consultation among the business community to help discuss and shape Boost Business Lancashire (the business growth hub) and the future of business support (from both the private and public sectors) in the county.

Since the launch of Boost in 2013, over 2,000 businesses have received funded business support, helping them shape and implement their growth aspirations. So far, 600 jobs have been created as a result of Boost support.

While the current Boost programme ends in June 2015, funding has already been secured for a second Boost programme, which is expected to launch later this year.

By completing a short online survey you can help develop a business support environment for Lancashire tailored to the needs of the county's businesses.

• The survey is open until 26th June 2015. To have your say, go to:

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

In Memoriam: Richard Dow, a leading light of the Gregson Centre

Richard "Dick" Dow"

We're deeply saddened to report the tragic passing away last week of Richard Dow, a hugely popular local businessman and much-missed friend of many Lancastrians whose lives he touched.

Richard had been involved in the Gregson Centre on Moorgate for over thirty years as a trustee and as a director of Gregson Centre Limited, the management company that operates the Gregson Centre on behalf of the Gregson Community Association. He had also run numerous local businesses.

Here at virtual-lancaster, he'll be recalled for his support of the site and the project's community news predecessors such as Off The Beat magazine. On a personal level, I'll remember him as a generous landlord and much-loved member of the Lancaster community and I'm deeply saddened to learn of his passing.

"There will be a time to pay him proper tribute for his decades long dedication to the Gregson Centre and the wider community, but at present our thoughts are with his children, family and his friends at this sad time," noted the Gregson Community Association in a short statement released yesterday.

"Richard was loved and respected by many. It is hard to describe just how much he will be missed as a colleague and a friend by those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him well and of working with him over the years. He is simply irreplaceable."

Local Cinema Round-Up for 3rd to 11th June 2015

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.

Only two new releases during this period. There is science fiction adventure with Jurassic World (12A) and a welcome return to horror with Insidious Chapter 3 (15). However the Dukes is showing a number of movies that were released earlier in the year but have not yet been shown in our region. These are the drama Girlfriend (15); a period drama Phoenix (12A); mystery with The Falling (15) and the real life drama Woman in Gold (12A).

We see the reappearance of Spy that was shown just briefly in Lancaster. Also there is the return of The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water and a last chance to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Movies that have vanished from the screens include Cinderella; Return to Sender and Unfriended.

This period sees the return of high culture with The Royal Opera House: La Boheme which is being screened for one night only.

There is currently something of a lull in movies for smaller children though we have the return of Spongebob along with the continued screening of Two by Two and Moonins on the Riviera. However Tomorrowland: A World Beyond can be enjoyed by all the family.

Along with the newly released dramas, the gripping San Andreas remains as excellent viewing as does Spooks: The Greater Good, though the latter will soon be nearing the end of its season.

For comedy Spy is an excellent choice of film, whereas more musical oriented comedy is available with Pitch Perfect 2.

Movies due for release later this month include Take That Live in mid June, and Minions due for release at the end of the month.


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Paul Bettany
This is the eleventh film in the franchise and the movie starts where 'The Avengers' finished. Following a raid on a Hydra outpost, Stark (Downey) and Banner (Ruffalo) complete Stark's defense program to protect the earth using an artificial intelligence. However the latter, Ultron (Spader) strives for human destruction. Ultron attacks the avengers and develops a plan to end humanity. Following the battle the avengers start to fight among themselves. However Stark creates a new being, Vision (Bettany) who aids the avengers in their final confrontation with Ultron. This is a very fast acting movie, louder and bigger than its predecessors with complicated plot and titanic special effects. The movie has received good reviews and will delight anyone who enjoyed previous Avenger movies.

Far From the Madding Crowd
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
The latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel of the same name. Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) is a willful young woman who has come into property by inheritance. Her looks and manner result in three potential suitors looking to marry her, a sheep farmer Gabriel Oaks (Schoenaerts), a middle aged neighbour William Boldwood (Sheen) and a handsome Sargent Frank Troy (Sturridge). However Bathsheba comes to regret her choice of husband. This is a fine adaption of what is a difficult novel to bring to the screen. The scenery is glorious and acting excellent. A solid period drama romance.

Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Brittany Snow
A sequel to the the 2012 movie 'Pitch Perfect' with many of the cast from the previous movie continuing with their roles. The Bellas are an a cappella singing group at Barden University who have previously won a national competition. A hilarious 'wardrobe malfunction' during a performance means the group will be disbanded unless they can redeem themselves by winning the world a cappella tournament in Holland. This requires beating their rivals, a techo group called Das Sound Machine. This is one of the better teen movies and is the highest grossing musical comedy. A worthy successor to the original film.

Director: Gil Kenan
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris
This is a remake of the classic Spielberg and Hooper 'Poltergeist' released in 1982. Eric (Rockwell) has lost his job whereas his wife Amy (DeWitt) is an unsuccessful writer. Hence they downsize, taking their three children to live in a rather dilapidated house in the suburbs. Here the children suffer from psychic attacks and their younger child Madison (Clement) becomes infatuated with a TV set. Madison is captured by a malevolent spirit and the TV provides the only means of communication between herself and her family. Her parents seek help, initially from a parapsychologist Dr Claire Powell (Adams) and thence from a psychic Carrigan Burke (Harris) in order to save their daughter. This is an action packed film, with solid acting, though the film offers little time for the characters to be developed. The movie follows closely the 1982 original and provides a worthwhile remake.

San Andreas
Director: Brad Payton
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Dwane Johnson, Carla Guging, Ioan Gruffudd, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
A magnitude nine earthquake hits California, demolishing Los Angeles and San Francisco. Chief Ray Gaines (Johnson), a pilot working for the LA Fire Department, rescues his estranged wife Emma (Gugino) from a crumbling building. The the two of them fly to San Francisco to save their daughter Blake (Daddario). Blake meanwhile been rescued by an engineer Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson). This is a feel good disaster movie, following the lives of a half dozen people against the backdrop of a devastating series of earthquakes. There is impressive CGI footage of leveled cities and widespread destruction. Also we have fine acting from Daddario and Johnson, the latter playing his archetypal action character with a soupcon of humour. A proficient and watchable film.

Spooks: The Greater Good
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Ehle, Laura Pulver, Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Elyes Gabel
A terrorist, Adam Qasim (Gabel), escapes from MI5 custody. Harry Pearce (Firth), head of counter terrorism, is blamed and Harry subsequently vanishes. Agent Will Halloway (Harington) is brought back into MI5 to investigate. He succeeds in finding Harry and the two of them work to uncover a traitor who deliberately freed the terrorist and who is plotting to destroy MI5. The film is set in London and marks the cinema debut of the TV series that was first broadcast in 2002. The movie captures the spirit of the series and references events in the final episode. The plot is unpredictable with plenty of twists and turns and the film has its fair share of action. This is a tense, fast paced offering that will delight anyone who enjoyed the TV show. However it may not quite have enough presence to win over an international audience.

Director: Paul Feig
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a CIA agent who works at a desk. However her partner Bradley Fine (Law) is assassinated in the field whilst another agent Richard Ford (Statham) is compromised. Despite lack of practical experience, Cooper volunteers to go underground and infiltrate the network of the arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) in order to avenge Fine's death. In truth the plot does not really matter in this film, simply enjoy it as a tremendous send up of spy movies. McCarthy brings all her comedic talents to bear in this spoof and Statham also sends up his usual macho roles. Great performances, great comedy.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
Director: Brad Bird
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie
A Walt Disney film which attempts something a little different. Casey (Robertson) is a young woman, by nature an optimist with great enthusiasm for science. She gets into some minor trouble which leads her to finding a badge with the magical property of transferring her to Tomorrowland, a place outside the usual dimensions of the earth. Helped by a mysterious woman Athena (Cassidy) she finds Frank (Clooney), an inventor. Together they travel to Tomorrowland where their aim is to inspire hope amongst the people of earth. It is admirable that Disney is rather 'breaking the mold' with this film and it is likely that the target audience comprises young adults who are still enthused by science. However adults are likely to find the movie unduly complex and perhaps a little boring.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski
A biographical drama based on Cheryl Strayed's memoirs of her trek across America. Cheryl (Witherspoon) is a woman with an unfortunate past. Her mother died of cancer. Her marriage failed and she fell into reckless and self destructive behaviour. In an attempt to make sense of her life, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The trail is in excess of 1000 miles, extending from Mexico, through California to the Canadian border. The film follows Strayed's journey, with frequent flashbacks to fill in the details of her earlier life. This is a fine drama supported by the music and poetry that kept her going. It is difficult not to feel that you are accompanying her on the way. 

Hornby Road Crash: Witness Appeal

Police are appealing for witnesses following a collision last weekend in which a cyclist and motorcyclist were seriously injured.

The collision occurred at around 2.35pm on Saturday 30th May on the A683, Hornby Road, between the villages of Hornby and Claughton, Lancaster.

The 43 year old motorcyclist was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital with chest and head injuries and the 46 year old cyclist was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary with two fractured legs. Both are now in a stable condition.

PS 882 Nigel Ralphson, of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “This collision occurred on the main road with a cycleway adjacent to where it happened. I believe there may have been people in the area at the time of the collision and I would urge them to get in touch if they witnessed what happened.

“Fortunately both men involved are now recovering well in hospital and we are continuing our enquiries to establish exactly how the collision came to occur.”

• Please contact PC 3167 Illingworth or PS 882 Ralphson on 01524 596746 quoting log number 793 of 30th May. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Music Hall memories on display in Morecambe

An extensive selection of Music Hall and Variety memorabilia from Blackpool resident Ken Bowe's collection is on display at the Morecambe Heritage Exhibition Centre, at the front of the town's Winter Gardens.

The arrival of the world famous exhibition of 150 years of entertainment is the start of what volunteers hope will be the first step towards a permanent heritage centre in the town.

In the video above, collector Ken reveals a bit about his Himself and his passion for his collection.

Morecambe Heritage Exhibition Centre centre is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4.00pm until September 2015. Admission is £2, with £1 going to the Grand Theatre at Blackpool, which Mr Bowe supports.

• Morecambe Heritage is looking for more volunteers to work in the centre. Anyone interested can contact the group through its Facebook page

Monday, 1 June 2015

Paul Palmer Trio set to stomp the Ashton this weekend

The Second Ashton Evening on 5th June 2015 in Williamson Park, organised by the Friends of Williamson Park is shaping up to be a big success with an exhibition by the outstanding local artist Chas Jacobs, and music by the Paul Palmer Trio (including guitarist Jon Moore).

There will also be a charity auction with prizes including personalised signed prints from Chas, a specially handcrafted piece of silver jewellery from Firths Jewellers of Lancaster, a hamper from Atkinsons, a brewery tour and supper from the Lancaster Brewery and a family ticket for this year's Dukes play in the park, Oliver Twist, donated by the Dukes.

• For tickets email, or buy them from the Park shop, Tourist Information at The Story or on the door on the night

• Find the Friends of Williamson Park  on Facebook:

First Friday arts extravaganza returns with a host of music and arts events

Brighton Carnival Band - set to brighten up Lancaster on Friday 5th June 

There’s nothing like a First Friday in Lancaster, the city’s highly popular arts extravaganza. This month is no different, offering an impressive selection of music, poetry, writers events, artists talks, exhibitions - and a lot more along the way, including an appearance by the Brighton Carnival Band and simply oodles of free music at pubs around the city – and on the Market Square plinth, too.

Thanks to both local creators and musicians, and some guests, too, you’ll quickly be swept up in the creative energy that pervades the city - so why not give this amazing event a try?

First Fridays are a monthly multi-disciplinary mini-festival of the arts organised by Lancaster Arts City, and happen, not surprisingly, on the first Friday of every month.

Each event brings together artists and performers from the local and national scene in venues across Lancaster, featuring music, literature, drama, visual arts, cinema, poetry and much more.

• For more information, or to find out about volunteering to help the project visit

• Future First Fridays will take place on 3rd July and 7th August. If you'd like to be involved in First Fridays, please email Check out their Get Involved page for details of micro commissions of up to £350 for artists to produce their ideas on First Fridays.


Poetry: Lune Rising Audio Walk
5 June 2015 at 08.00am - 5 July, 2015 at 8.00am, Lancaster Castle

A self-guided audio walk by poet Sarah Hymas around Lancaster Castle.

The year is 2060. Sea levels have surged. Lancaster is reduced to Castle Island. A voice, the sole remaining inhabitant, guides you around this un/familiar coastline. You straddle two time zones, two realities, two states of belief. Which can you trust?

Download the audio file from the Arts City web site (file will be uploaded week commencing 1st June) or borrow a preloaded MP3 player from the Gift Shop at the Castle (open daily 9.30- 5.00pm). The walk is self-guided and can be done at any time. The walk begins and ends at the Castle’s main gate, lasting approximately 20 minutes.

Fusion Exhibition by Arteria
5 June 2015 at 10.00am - 5 June 2015 at 5.00pm, Arteria, Brock Street, Lancaster Web:

Taking place at Arteria, be inspired by a dynamic showcase of art and contemporary crafts based on the cross fertilization of the manufactured and the organically occurring, made by local and national artists. Arteria are celebrating 10th birthday with Atkinsons, coffee will be served for part of the day.

Exhibition: Understanding The Ritual
5 June 2015 at 12 noon - 5 June 2015 at 7.30pm, Storey Gallery, Meeting House Lane

An exciting exhibition by a range of contemporary artists whose work is shot through with the ancient spirit of Shamanism. Meet the artists from 6.30 - 7.30pm.

ARTS - From Gallery to Garden workshop
5 June 2015 at 3.30pm - 5 Jun, 2015 at 6.30pm, Storey Gallery, Meeting House Lane

Family Friendly Workshop. Join artists Pete and Sue Flowers for a free workshop to create a new artwork that will connect the Storey Garden and The Gallery at the Storey. You can bring flowers, shells, sticks, fruit, vegetables, mirrors, candles etc…. or just yourselves!

Larks in the Parks - and on the Plinth on Friday
MUSIC - Larks Loading Outdoor Gig
5 June 2015 at 3.30pm - 5 Jun, 2015 at 6.30pm Facebook:

Larks in the Park is Lancashire’s largest youth led music and arts festival and is excited to be in its 5th year! Larks was set founded in 2011 to offer both a platform to showcase the phenomenal music and artistic talent of our districts young people, but also to offer voluntary accredited training for young people in all aspects of community events management. This event will be a selection of our finest young musicians to give you a taste of what’s in store for this year’s 5th Larks in the Park festival and is supported by More Music.

ARTS - Iron Press Printmaking: Open Studio with Iain Sloan
5 June 2015 5.00pm, The Storey, Meeting House Lane

Come and see Iain Sloan's new printmaking studio at The Storey. Iain will be on hand to talk about the studio facilities and its many uses including etching, lino-cutting, wood-cutting, wood engraving, drypoint, collograph, carborundum and mono-printing.

Luneside Studios

ARTS - Luneside Open Studios
5 June 2015 at 5.30 - 7.30pm, Luneside Studios, 26 Castle Park

Luneside Studios have been providing affordable studio space for artists in Lancaster for the last 32 years. Located opposite the castle Luneside opens its doors for an open studio evening. A chance to see inside a working studio & meet the artists.

MUSIC - Brighton Carnival Collective
5 June 2015 at 5.30 - 6.30pm, Market Square

A modern big band experience, with more than 20 performers taking to the stage. A tidal wave of energetic music, ranging from drum and bass, reggae and jungle to swing, played on Brazilian drums, with a fat horn section and dirty bass-lines, topped with beautiful vocal harmonies. Always guaranteed to get the crowd jumping!

MUSIC - Music Fringe
5 June 2015 at 6.00pm onwards

Live music and poetry across Lancaster on First Friday with Rosa Francesca at The Hall, China Street (6pm-10pm, Free); Angela Christopher Poetry Evening, Lancaster Library (7pm - 9pm Free); Alberto and Friends, 1725 Market Square (9pm -11pm Free); The Bimble Brothers, The George & Dragon, St. George's Quay, (9pm -11pm Free0; The Olive Groove in the Olive Bar, The Gregson Centre, Moor Lane (9pm -11pm Free); Bluegrass Night, Three Mariners (9pm -11pm Free); Jave and Gweedo, Wagon & Horses, St. Georges's Quay (9pm - 11pm Free); The Convulsions, John O'Gaunt, Market Street (9pm-midnight Free); Punk & Disorderly (Punk Festival), The Bobbin, Chapel Street, (9.30pm-11.30pm Free); Frayed Edges, Penny Bank, Penny Street (9.30pm-11.30pm Free); and Idol Minds, The Stonewell Tavern, Lower Church Street (9.30pm-11.30pm Free)

LITERATURE - North West Literary Salon: Carys Davies and Claire Dean
5 Jun, 2015, 7.00pm Lancaster Library

An hour of stories, conversation, food and music. A monthly series, each salon features readings from published North West writers, followed by a discussion chaired by Yvonne and Naomi, locally catered food and music by local musicians. This month features Carys Davies and Claire Dean.

North West Literary Salon is a new initiative bringing established and emerging writers with a local connection together with the public for readings (storytelling) and conversation. After the authors read, Naomi and Yvonne, of Lancaster University, chair a lively discussion and invite the audience to participate. Food is provided by a local caterer and a local musician provides the music.

The salon is an evening engaging with story, community and discussion brought about by our love of a good story told well and is supported by donations from alumni and friends of Lancaster University, a grant from Public Engagement with Research and Grad College.

MUSIC - Monsieur Doumani
5 June 2015, 8.00pm The Hothouse, More Music, 13-17 Devonshire Road, Morecambe, LA3 1QT

With support from The Balkanics

Monsieur Doumani are a dynamic trio playing original and traditional Cypriot music with a twist. Featuring Antonis Antoniou on tzouras (small bouzouki), Angelos Ionas on guitar and Demetris Yiasemides on winds, they combine impressive musicianship with humour and panache. 2013’s album Grippy Grappa was a Songlines favourite and their new album Sikoses arrives in the spring.

This concert is part of Songlines Encounters Festival On Tour 2015. Songlines Encounters Festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.

King of Cats. Art by Christopher Rainham
LITERATURE - King of the Cats Storytelling with Jacqueline Harris
5 June 2015, 8.15pm< The Storey

To tie with the exhibition 'King of the Cats' which has been touring Lancashire venues including Lancaster City Museum, renowned writer and storyteller Jacqueline Harris will host a special event as part of Litfest's storytelling programme. From Boggarts to Haunted Hares, and Talking Cats, Lancashire is rich in legend and lore. Come along and be immersed in windswept moorland, snow capped hills and icy becks.

FILM - Lambert and Stamp
5 June 2015 at 8.30pm The Dukes

A documentary film about the unlikely men who discovered and managed rock legends The Who. Followed by live music in The Dukes bar.

ARTS - Lunesdale Arts Trail
6 June 2015 at 11:00 - 5.00pm
7 June 2015 at 11:00 - 5.00pm

Why not extend your weekend of art, and head out in to the local countryside to uncover some fantastic local artists? Meet the individual artists in their studios and workshops throughout the Lune Valley, see work in progress including paintings, drawings, ceramics, creative glass and textiles.

Visit the website for more details.

Download the brochure here (front page and inside page)