Potty about Peter
Lancashire Life came to talk to Roger Glossop, Director of The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction and here’s the interview. You can read it online here or the transcript below…
As Bowness gets ready for another busy season, Emma Mayoh goes behind the scenes at one of its favourite attractions…
“When Roger Glossop opened the doors of The World of Beatrix Potter for the first time 24 years ago, he couldn’t believe what happened. Worried whether anyone would turn up to see the beautiful displays he had created, he was stunned when 700 hundred people flocked through the doors. ‘I thought we would close after the first day. It’s all been a big surprise, a wonderful surprise,’ said Roger: ‘You build something never expecting that it will still be going almost 25 years later. It’s just brilliant.’
The crowds that flock to this popular tourist destination, possibly one of the Lake District’s best known attractions, have not shown any signs of slowing down. Every year thousands visit The World of Beatrix Potter – on a good day anything up to 1,800 people go through the doors of the old Victorian laundry building. They queue up outside for the chance to see the quaint and pretty displays. Roger, a talented stage designer who has worked around the world in the theatre industry including in at the Sheffield Crucible, in the West End, with the Royal Shakespeare Company and on Broadway, decided to set up The World of Beatrix Potter after his wife and stage manager, Charlotte Scott, 50, suggested it. They had already set up other visitor attractions around the country. But it is the Bowness business that has flourished.
Every year needs a routine refresh and work is done in January but this year something special is happening. It’s the largest refurbishment in the attraction’s history and it will give the displays a totally new look. All of the foliage that dominates the scenes that tell the tales of some of Beatrix Potter’s best loved tales is being replaced. This may seem like a small task but there are thousands of pieces of trees, bushes, leaves and branches to be handpainted and put up by expert craftsmen from creative design company Square Pebble. The foliage has been put together over several months before being worked on in the Bowness building. Some of the scenes have also been reworked.
Roger, who is 67, said: ‘This is definitely the biggest renovation we have done. The techniques and materials we are using are the same as those used by companies like Disney and Pixar. We need the best, ‘I’m really looking forward to getting the doors open again so people can see the work we have done. I really hope people enjoy it.’
The World of Beatrix Potter has extended, too. They also launched the Old Laundry Theatre, with the support of friend and playwright Alan Ayckbourn. Over the years they have attracted many stars, including some who have gone on to become patrons including Victoria Wood, Griff Rhys-Jones and Alan Rickman. Until recently the theatre has only been open for a few months of the year as the theatre space has had to give way for the popular Peter Rabbit afternoon teas. But Roger recently bought the church hall which will be renovated and will host tea parties and functions. The Old Laundry Theatre will then be open year round. They also have big plans to mark the attractions 25th anniversary next year.
Roger said: ‘I never expected we would still be here all of these years later. It is quite incredible. But all of the people who work here are like a family and this is what makes it work. I’m so pleased with how things have worked out.’”