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Flexi Friend Compatable
Botany Bay (England)
Member Name: freeandsingle
Botany Bay (England)
Date: 20/11/08, updated on 20/11/08 (545 review reads)
Advantages: Many unique shops for you to easily spend the day in
Disadvantages: Flexi friend no longer my friend
As Christmas is looming, it has always been a tradition with me and my family to visit Botany Bay. We love to buy unique gifts that are hand made for each other as stocking fillers.
So on Sunday we all decide to visit Botany Bay, to start on our Christmas shopping, as this is a place where you can buy good unique gifts under one roof.
****** Botany Bay*****
Botany Bay is a shopping centre not as large as conventional shopping centers, but it consists of lots of shops, located over five floors. Each of these shops are rented by independent companies, these can be large well know companies or small one man businesses.
The Botany Bay centre is located near Chorley, a small town that lies on the outskirts of Lancashire and sits on the side of the Lancaster canal, it can be accessed via the M61 at junction 8.
This building was originally a cotton spinning mill that has been situated since 1865, the building itself was left unused for many years until 1992 when planning permission was granted for this to become the tourist attraction it is today.
It was not until a local business man Tim Knowles purchased the old mill in 1994, that the mill was actually renovated and restored with its original features to give us Botany Bay.
This cost Tim Knowles over nine million pounds to convert this old mill and it opened for Christmas in 1995 and has been successful ever since, in my opinion it was money well spent.
******What it Offers*****
Botany Bay offers five large floors full of shops, and hundreds of artfefacts and memorabilia that are displayed across all five floors.
To gain access to the floors you can either take one of two lifts that are really old and cranky, they are very small and only fit one trolley at a time, so there is always a long queue. My advice to you would be to take the stairs, if you don't have a shopping trolley that is.
The stair case is a huge metal structure that dates back to the mill, it is fully lined with old photographs for you to look at on your way up or down. For me this staircase was one of the best features in the place as it is so old and has been restored to perfection, the only thing is the steps where a killer climbing up all four flights, so I would recommend you stop off on each floor to catch your breath.
Botany Bay offers free car parking, the car park is situated to the side and the rear of the building but it is only a short walk from the car park to the buildings main entrance, once you step inside you are hit with a very oldie worldy atmosphere.
Another main attraction for me is the children's play area Puddle Town Pirates, this is an indoor play area that has ball pits, slides, swings and everything to keep the kids happy.
The children are not supervised so you can not leave them if they are under eight years old. A small charge applies for the children's entrance to Puddle Town, but in my opinion it is much better than taking them in with you, as it avoids the mummy can I have question.
****** Ground floor******
As you approach the main entrance you walk passed Puddle Town and into the main reception area where you either show your membership or pay the entrance fee.
The first thing you see is the garden centre area full of unusual garden ornaments, water features and hand crafted pots and planters of all shapes and sizes. I bought a huge wooden wind chime for 7.99 a great gift for my parents they love to irritate their neighbours so I thought that this would be ideal.
Also on this floor you can stop for a coffee at the Casablanca Coffee and Wine Bar they also do a wide selection of pastry's and sandwiches for you to snack on. I always wait until I am ready to leave and then I have a glass of wine as I never volunteer to drive home because I am usually shattered after all the shopping.
On this floor is the start of the shopping experience with small Victorian themed shops that offer hand crafted items, handbags, old fashioned sweets and unusual gift boxes and wrapping paper all delicately made.
If these shops are not enough there is a further four floors to explore and put a serious dent in your bank balance which is something that I am very good at.
****** First Floor ******
This floor consists of home and kitchen wear, candles made by the well known American company Colony Candles, glassware and lots of other unique items to decorate your home.
The floor is decorated with all of the items that can be purchased within the shops located on this floor. I saw a stunning dinner service displayed on a dining table in the middle of the floor I knew I just had to have it so I spent an hour walking around the different shops trying to find it.
It is beautifully decorated but I hate the fact that they display every thing effectively as it makes me spend money on things that I don't really need, but the dinner service will come out on Christmas day.
It works the same as the first floor with displays of products but this floor is based around home furnishings.
This is one of my favourite floors as you can buy any thing to furnish your home and what makes it so special is the fact that many of the items come from other areas of the world, which is unusual because all we normally see in Britain is the highly manufactured products from China.
As well as fine furnishings you can get a wide selection of lighting whether this is either spot lights, lamps or chandeliers.
This floor is dedicated to soft furnishings here you will be able to buy bedding, curtains, throws which are all very pretty and unique.
I noticed a difference on the floor this time around with the addition of Ponden Mill which is a big well known company who provide top quality soft furnishings at good prices, it just goes to show that Botany Bay are constantly improving as big chains want to be part of it.
This is a must for every child, you have to pull them out of Puddle Town Play area so that they can see this phenomenal floor, and this is home to the Christmas displays.
This is jam packed full of every decoration that you could think of , you can buy artificial trees, glass and crystal baubles, stunning tree top fairies, tinsel, crackers, cards,
Novelty Santa's and snowmen that stand as high as me.
As I arrived on this floor the big kid in me came out, every tree and display was decorated to perfection and every thing on sale was colour coordinated I felt as if I was walking through a rain bow.
I did not actually need a new tree or new decorations but spent nearly 200 pounds, as I liked the look of one of their displays, they got me again and made me spend more money on something I did not need because of the way it looked. So this year I will be displaying a superb six foot black tree fully adorned with crystal baubles, I just hope that it looks as effective as theirs did.
After I spent too much money in the decoration department I decided not to stop off in any of the restaurants Shambles Tea Room or the Smethurst's Restaurant located on this floor, as I wanted to go and get the kids as this was something they just had to see.
If you are a first time visitor you have to pay a small admission fee but in my experience it is best to go for a life long membership as this is a place that you will visit more than once.
There are two options for the Botany Bay membership, the first being life time membership also known as a gold member or yearly membership also known as green card.
Lifetime Membership - Gold Card
Senior Citizens: £4.00
Annual Membership - Green Card
Senior Citizens: £2.99
Puddle Town entrance fees are 3.50 per child, children under the age of one are free. This entitles them to two hours of play.
If you do sign up as a member you can gain access to Botany Bay as many times as you like totally free of charge providing your card is valid.
By being a card holder you also qualify for discount vouchers and get 10% off Puddle Town Admission fees so this in itself will save you money if you have a few children.
Paying for items is done differently to any other shopping centre you don't actually pay in the shop, each item has a code which identifies which shop it has come from. There is a payment desk on each floor where you take your items and pay for them all together. At the end of each day the shop owners are then paid for items sold from their shops by a central payment desk.
I found it very strange to see all of the shops were un manned surely this is a golden opportunity for shop lifters.
***** Opening Times*****
Botany Bay is open to the public 365 days a year so you have every opportunity to visit but I don't think I would do it on Christmas day.
Opening Hours are 10.00am. - 18.00.pm.
They are currently offering late night shopping on Wednesday evenings, it is currently open until 20.00 pm and admission is free of charge even if you have not got membership.
Botany Bay is located along side the M61 to gain access you leave the motorway at junction 8, it is very well sign posted both on the motorway and the road leading up to it.
It is less than half an hour away from Manchester city centre.
This is a fantastic shopping experience for the whole family not only does it entertain adults and children but it also gives you the chance to buy very unusual presents or items for your own home. I have been during the summer months but for me the best time to visit has to be on the run up to Christmas.
Puddle Town is a huge asset to this place as children can get bored roaming the shops, this was they get to have a bit of fun and make some friends and I get them out of my hair for two hours. I am fortunate as I have an eight year old and I can leave him unsupervised if he had been any younger I would have had to stay with him.
The Casablanca coffee shop on the ground floor is very nice but very expensive so I recommend that you eat before hand or take a picnic to eat in the car or next to the canal when the weather is nice.
I strongly recommend that you visit at least once a year because there is always something new to see, I think that is why I like shopping at this place as new businesses are always joining the fleet of shops although I have been disappointed in the past when nice shops have shut down but this is very rare.
Summary: A good day out that even the kids will enjoy.
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