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Botany Bay (England)
Member Name: Peter2670
Botany Bay (England)
Date: 12/03/01, updated on 12/03/01 (2351 review reads)
Advantages: See opinion
Here on home soil situated on the outskirts of the small Lancashire town of Chorley is Britain’s own version of a very different type of venue.
Botany Bay is a magically transformed disused cotton-spinning mill dating back to 1865 which has now become a major tourist attraction.
Throughout the five floors at Botany Bay there are thousands of intriguing artefacts and unique pieces of memorabilia either in displays or adorning the walls, ceilings, stairs and floors.
It is a unique experience for the whole family and it is crammed full of unusual gifts, crafts and furnishings with numerous outdoor exhibitions during the summer months.
My family and I visited the attraction early one Saturday morning and by the end of the day we were really glad that we had been.
There were number of people already there when we arrived and by mid afternoon people were arriving in droves but it did not stop us from exploring the interior which turned out to be a really memorable experience.
There is a large free car and coach park outside the premises and a small admission fee into the premises itself and a further admission fee into the adjoining ‘Puddletown Pirates’ play area for children.
As you begin to explore the interior some fascinating sights unfold before you with pictures and portraits of bygone days and other items dating back over many years. An old Barclays Bank cheque dated April 1954 made payable in Pounds shilling and pence was encased in a glass cabinet.
An original Sopworth 11/2 Strutter aeroplane and one of two original Dennis Fire engines used in Stoke on Trent in 1968 stationary and unattended but in perfect order just waiting to be put into
good use once again.
An old sand coloured military vehicle that had been used during the filming of Evita was parked directly next to the original helicopter that had plunged into icy waters in the Lake District earlier this year. The experienced pilot I am glad to say had miraculously escaped uninjured
Two American Edsal limousines in exceptional condition were waiting to be driven away
or so it seemed and everywhere you looked gave the impression of an Aladdin’s cave.
Your journey continues into an enchanting Victorian styled shopping arcade where myriad’s of specialist shops provide quality hand crafted and antique gifts for all occasions.
We strolled along the dimly lit Piccadilly Circus, Market Street, Pall Mall Walks and Silver Bow Street with their miniature sized shops containing everything you could possibly want to buy from the smallest pots of jam to the largest waterbeds.
We continued on our journey passing underneath the 1865 dated stone arch into Victoria Square with it’s varied selection of assorted furniture and water fountain that gave a relaxed feeling as you browsed.
In another corner a full sized multi coloured gypsy caravan reminding you of the films that you have seen on television and surrounded with agricultural equipment from years gone by. How many of you will remember the mangle, a device used before the arrival of the spin dryer and used exactly for that very same purpose but by manual means.
Beyond Victoria Square more furniture can be seen with the biggest solid oak four poster bed that I have ever seen and items of jewellery, porcelain and wickerware.
At this location we re-traced our steps and stopped for coffee in the groundfloor Casablanca coffee bar before our assent into the unknown.
Access to the remaining floors can be made by the staircases or by two lifts at either end of the building where more intriguing sights await you.
An old Morris motor vehicle cut in half and full size sailing yachts fixed to the walls as you climb the staircases to the remaining floors. Tennis rackets, very old cricket equipment, boxing gloves, old wooden snow skis and golfing equipment placed on shelves or affixed to the wall. It was all quite an amazing sight.
At different locations within the store were several old-fashioned red coloured telephone boxes in perfect working order available for customer’s use
Rocking horses and hobby horses with their smiling faces greet you as you turn yet another corner before you gaze in wonderment at the many shops stalls and units that are there before you.
Framed black and white pictures of Laurel and Hardy, football teams, Titanic, small libraries, musical equipment, toys, teddybears and lavishly dressed dolls and yet more jewellery and porcelain – the list was endless.
Songs of the Desert - Lonesome pine manufactures with Victorian pine kitchen tables, dressers and another large Marrakesh four poster bed.
As you walk slowly around the different floors the appropriate background music seemed to complement the existing historic atmosphere and then, above the sound, a vaguely familiar tune being played on a piano.
Curiosity got the better of me and walking slowly round to the musical instrument section and I saw a small girl very studiously attempting to play an old piano with two fingers. I think I may have frightened her because she stopped immediately when she saw me but after giving her a reassuring smile she continued with the melody.
Visit the art gallery with sculptured figures, oil and water colour paintings of still life, portraits, abstract art and in a small corner an area set aside for children to sit around tables and indulge in hobby ceramic painting classes of maybe their favourite Peter Rabbit characters.
Turning yet another corner revealed an enlarged version of
the front page of the New York Times dated 16th April 1912 with coverage of the ill-fated maiden voyage of ‘ Titanic’
There is so much to see that your eyes are busy trying to take it all in and around every corner and on each and every floor something will captivate you.
Themed furniture in modern and unusual designs as well as the traditional dining, bedroom and occasional furniture from different parts of the world with porcelain, glassware and china, framed prints, lighting, hand woven rugs and period pieces.
There were hundreds of different shapes, colours and sizes of candles and a history of how they are made and above your head on the ceiling literally thousand upon thousand of white coloured decorative lights which gave that feeling of Christmas all over again.
Finally on the fifth floor the jovial life size figures of Laurel and Hardy are there to meet you but close by the tall, foreboding figure of Frankenstein staring menacingly down at you and you just cannot help yourself looking at him for a second and third time.
Scattered around them are antiquated games machine from years ago all in perfect working order – the Grand National Horse race, bagatelle, puppets shows, punch and judy and more and more shops and stalls.
In a dark corner encased in glass was the life size head of ‘The Gypsy Woman’ who for a small fee would tell you what the future had in store for you. It reminded me of the film ‘Big’ starring Tom Hanks who played the child that made a wish to a similar figure and then grew up overnight into manhood.
We decided to carry on our journey through the maze of shops and stalls and before we knew it almost four hours had elapsed since our arrival so we decided to have some light refreshment.
Anything from traditional northern meals to a slice of cake and a cup of tea can be taken in either Shambles tea-room or adjoining SmethurtsR
17;s restaurant with a grand piano as a focal point in the centre of the room.
We chose Shambles tea-room but the name did not do it justice as it was spotlessly clean and we were provided with sustenance by very friendly staff at reasonable prices. In this room encased in a glass cabinet was one of the most elegant bridal gowns that I had ever seen.
Our granddaughter at this time was beginning to get a little bit restless so as there was still so many things that we wanted to see again we took her down to ‘Puddletown Pirates.’ The play area is situated the ground floor where she was able to play away to her hearts content for another hour and a half which allowed us to re-visit some of the sights that we had already seen
Such was the effect that it had on you and you felt as though you were compelled to return to the very same spot that intrigued you. It also allowed our daughter to tip toe away to the porcelain section where she bought her mother a figurine for mother’s day.
She showed it to me whilst her mother was elsewhere and I nodded my head in approval and I really think that she will like it when she sees it.
We probably visited all the five floors for a second time and thought we saw other items that hadn’t been there previously but of course they had and we had just missed them.
Finally we decided that we had seen about more or less everything that could be seen and decided that it was time to leave so after collecting our granddaughter we made our way back to the car.
An elderly gentleman and his wife approached us and the man asked us if we had enjoyed our visit. Of course I told him that we had and enthusiastically explained to him some of the things that they were about to see.
It was quite extraordinary when the man told me that he been before but when it was in its former condition as a cotton spinning mill.
He explained to me that the large squa
re containers that were filled with the hessian bags that contained all the cotton and wool were called botanies and were later placed into the loading bay for transportation to their different venues – hence the name Botany Bay.
For the business minded some very interesting packages appear to be available for any retail business that sells quality products of an interesting, artistic or out of the ordinary nature
Short-term tenancy agreements of six months are available on shop or stall units that do not require manning and experienced sales staff will sell on your behalf. The rental includes business rates and service charge.
There is a loading bay area and a full twenty four-hour closed circuit television camera security cover with fire and safety certification.
All units are available to let on flexible tenancy agreements:
Prime retail units to let from £72.00 per week
Antique retail units to let from £25.00 per week
Craft and workshop units to let from £15.00 per week
Gallery wall section to let from £6.00 per week
Botany Bay is open to the public 365 days a year.
Hours – 10.00.hrs – 18.00.hrs.
Admission – Adults £2.50 – Child £. 0.75. (Up to 14 yrs)
Free late night shopping entry on Wednesday from 17.00.hrs – 20.00.hrs
Puddletown Pirates is open 364 days a year
Monday to Friday – 10.00.hrs – 19.00.hrs – Last admission 17.30.hrs
Admission £2.95 for one and half-hours play.
Saturday & Sunday – 09.0.hrs – 19.00.hrs – Last admission 17.30.hrs.
Admission £3.95 for one and half-hours play.
Parents can relax in Puddletowns Galley Restaurant with satellite TV that offers views across the play centre.
Children over eight years of age can be left at the responsibility of their parents.
Membership special offer – Every adult who pays admission into Botany Bay can apply f
or a month’s free membership that will give them free entry into the premises any day of the week
I would thoroughly recommend visiting Botany Bay to anyone who is in this area and can assure you that you will not be disappointed
Directions: Exit junction 8 of the M61 Motorway and follow the brown tourist information sign to Botany Bay which is about one minute drive. Botany Bay can be seen from the motorway network and is less than 30 minutes away from Manchester City Centre.
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