An early magazine advertisement for the park, featuring a photo from Noel's Garden Party and concept art.
Opening 30th July 1994, 'Noel Edmonds' World of Crinkley Bottom', at Happy Mount Park, Morecambe was supposed to reach the same success that the Cricket St. Thomas Park did.
Much like Cricket St. Thomas, Happy Mount Park had already been open to the public for decades, and Lancaster City Council hoped the new Crinkley Bottom rebranding would attract 240,000 extra visitors a year.
The opening six weeks saw 75,000 visitors, but even before the new attractions were built a large number of Morecambe locals were strongly against the takeover, claiming the new addition would taint the park’s historic gardens and turn people away. The park lasted a mere 13 weeks after the city council voted to remove it. Visitor numbers were lower than expected and complaints were made that it wasn't good value for money. This, alongside constant ridicule from local residents and businesses, lead to the Crinkley Bottom section of the park closing its doors.
The park's rebranded entrance - the same gates are still used today.
Noel Edmonds with Mr Blobby's house-by-the-sea in construction.
One of the main concerns raised was that residents were not opposed to Crinkley Bottom Morecambe, but did not think Happy Mount Park was the answer. A reader of the Morecambe Visitor stated that the park was a complete juxtaposition of Cricket St Thomas’ 45 acre grounds. The park itself had always been free to enter, whereas an admission fee was required to enter the Crinkley Bottom section of the park. There was little to do other than see one of Mr Blobby’s live shows and only younger children could use the play area. Though Unique claimed more would be added to the park over three years, when compared to Cricket St Thomas and Pleasurewood Hills, Morecambe may never have been able to house such extravagant attractions for their version of Crinkley Bottom. Lancaster City Council blamed the Unique Group, and vice versa. Noel Edmonds later stated that “Unique Group won’t ever again enter into a licensed agreement with a local authority having seen the problems that have arisen in Morecambe.” The plan had been for a three-year contract with additions to the park during that time, rather than a fully-fledged attraction from the beginning.
The Blobbyland play area.
Lancashire Evening Post 13th January 1995.
Though there was significant uproar from the start, local councilors hoped the park would be the answer to Morecambe’s problems. Two helicopters, a rally car, and a branded bus were created to advertise the park, which was driven up and down Blackpool’s promenade, Morecambe’s more successful tourism competitor. They all featured the Crinkley Bottom logo which strangely features a simplified illustration of Cricket House from the Cricket St Thomas logo, despite being 271 miles away!
The park featured a Blobbyland play area similar to the one built at Cricket St Thomas but with a seaside theme. The main attraction was ‘Mr Blobby’s house-by-the-sea’, where he would come out and entertain visitors. Other village buildings included a sign maker who couldn’t spell, and a boat hire (which was a front for an indoor play area).
The Sign Writer's Hut.
The Crinkley Bottom, Morecambe Bus.
Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby when hopes for Morecambe were high.
All the buildings except for the play area didn’t allow visitors inside, and instead offered the ambience of Crinkley Bottom. The mock buildings and lack of attractions meant there was little to do and the park didn’t cater to a wide age-range. A resident said: “I liken Crinkley Bottom to a theatre set, except there’s no play, no acting and nothing going on. It’s like an empty stage.” The plan for the park, however, was much more elaborate. The original proposals included a huge 40ft inflatable Blobby head which would pop out of the top of a building every fifteen minutes, a Noel’s House Party-style show similar to those performed at Pleasurewood Hills, a lake filled with pink gunge and ‘Blobbyboats’, and a ‘Forest of Glorious Television’ ride (possibly a similar concept to the ‘TV’s Family Favourites’ water ride at Cricket St. Thomas).
Instead of these bizarre, interactive attractions, visitors had little to see or do leaving them feeling there was very little value for money.
An initial artist's impression of the play area, the reality was sparse in comparison.
Later play area plans which were eventually built.
The quirky graveyard with little for visitors to see or do.
Visitors explore Mr Blobby's house-by-the-sea as he performs a live show.
timeline of events
August 1993: Following a successful lights switch-on in Morecambe, Noel Edmonds agrees to return to the resort the following year.
November 1993: Council bosses announce that a House Party-style attraction could be on the cards for Morecambe.
January 1994: Noel flies into Morecambe to hold first set of talks about the proposed project with the city council.
March 2nd 1994: Councillors meet in secret to discuss the cost of Crinkley Bottom.
March 4th 1994: Evening Post publishes opinions of residents living near Happy Mount Park and reveal strong objections to the scheme. Protestors hold their first meeting to discuss the project.
March 15th 1994: Crinkley Bottom expected to cost taxpayers £1.5m, according to leaked figures. It is also revealed it will cost £210,000 to set up and then £1,200,000 over the next three years.
March 22nd 1994: Noel signs contract with Lancaster City Council. Still no draft plans for the park available.
April 18th 1994: Council reveals that £100,000 has been set aside to cover any losses incurred by the park and, officers say, 239,000 people a year are needed to break even. Theming costs are officially announced to be £250,000 and revenue £330,000.
May 6th 1994: Park opening put back yet again to July sparking fears that money will be lost.
June 6th 1994: Crinkley Bottom officially launched at conference in Morecambe. Fuji, Pavilion and Mars are said to have pledged sponsorship.
June 11th 1994: Date finally announced for the opening - July 15th.
June 14th 1994: The planning committee passes the plans for the park much to the dismay of the crowds of protestors present at the meeting.
July 30th 1994: Crinkley Bottom Morecambe finally opens.
September 21st 1994: Special events director Andy Egan axed as ‘cost-cutting measure’.
September 23rd 1994: Noel speaks out to the Lancashire Evening Post. Claims Morecambe would not have been his choice of location and that information given to him by the council at the start of the project was ‘inaccurate.’
November 22nd 1994: Economic Development group meet to discuss future of the park - defer the decision for full council.
November 28th 1994: Full council decide to close the park and lay the blame at the door of the Unique Group Ltd, claiming the company breached its contracts of March 22nd and June 30th.
The 'Happy Mount Action Group', a group of local residents who protested against Crinkley Bottom arriving at Morecambe.