Allan Blackburn and his wife Gloria share a passion for antiques.
After visiting hundreds of antiques centres in the UK and abroad, they decided they could do better, and in August 1990, they opened GB Antiques Centre at Lancaster Leisure Park.
That same year, the couple were featured on Granada’s Flying Start programme.
Within eight years the centre grew from 8,000sqft to more than 40,000sqft and was extended again last year.
Allan now has 100 individual dealers, a long waiting list for stand space and more than 200,000 visitors a year.
Intending to only open at weekends and run antiques fairs, Allan and Gloria were surprised at how well GB Antiques Centre was received and it wasn’t long before they opened seven days a week.
In 1998 they bought the lease for Lancaster Leisure Park, wanting to develop it with a blend of leisure facilities and family attractions.
Over the last 25 years, the leisure park has under gone many changes, all for the better and Allan is still keen to grow and improve the site.
He said: “Since we took over the former Hornsea Pottery site we’ve had a garden centre, driving range, toboggan run, a pottery, café, motor shows and food food festivals on the site.
“This year has been a particularly exciting year for us. Miller Homes are well under way with their developments of 71 new houses,
“Cam Photography established themselves here recently and building work on the new restaurant is nearly finished.”
Allan is well known throughout the north west. He writes a column every week in the Lancaster Guardian and an antiques feature in our sister paper, the Lancashire Evening Post.
He also appears regularly on Radio Lancashire giving valuations of listeners’ collectables and is a self confessed workaholic, so you’ll no doubt see him somewhere on site if you visit.
At 43 when he started GB Antiques, he was older than most people starting out, but he’s still passionate about antiques, the site and loves working hard, so retirement will have to wait a bit longer!
So to what does Allan attribute his success?
“We are a family business and we all work hard,” he said. “My son, Jimmy, manages the antiques centre and my daughter, Dawn, looks after the accounts and the office.
“We are just out of the town centre so there’s a quieter atmosphere here. The antiques centre is now one of the biggest in the country and people come and literally browse for hours as there is such a variety of furniture and smalls.
“We are constantly improving the site and now have nine superb attractions”.
Lancaster Leisure Park is also home to Lancaster Brewery, The Original Factory Shop, Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop, Cam Photography, Giggles Play and Adventure, Turning Point Theatre Arts, Marshall Self Drive and soon The Countrystyle Kitchen.
Allan added: “To celebrate our 25 years, we will be giving valuations with all the proceeds going to our nominated charities CancerCare and Alexander House.
On Sunday August 30 between 11am and 3pm visitors are welcome to bring two items for valuation for just £5.
“Afterwards we are going to have a party for all our friends, family and dealers.”