Second Poundworld to Open in Chester

Chesterfield - Packers RowAnyone looking for a bargain in Chester city centre will be in luck as it’s announced that a second Poundworld will open in the historic town.

The Forum Shopping Centre is currently the location for the first Poundworld store which opened in April, creating 30 jobs and low-end prices at the same time. After the USC shop closed down just one week ago, Poundworld has moved in quickly to expand.

The company has come a long way since being a market stall in Wakefield in the 70’s and with 240 stores across the UK, is one of the many competitors for other pound emporiums such as Poundland and Poundstretcher. The recession-busting shops have become almost synonymous with the British high street over the past 5 years or so.

Spokeswoman Louise Greenwell said: “I can confirm that Poundworld will be opening a new store in Chester at Foregate Street next to Marks and Spencer in October. The store will be run as an additional site and our existing store in the Forum Shopping Centre will remain open.

“Unlike our main rivals, Poundland, which is American private equity owned, we remain 100% family owned to this day, headed up by managing director Chris Edwards and his son and trading director, Chris Edwards Junior.”

Cestrians will be hoping that they will see a bargain or two when the new store does open and with 5000 products available from the likes of Coca-Cola and Cadburys, it’s better than your average pennysaver.

USC was abruptly closed down amid concerns that the landlord’s rent was “too high” and that it wasn’t viable to stay there long term. Its parent company, Sports Direct, has stated that they are still looking for another space in the city.

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Could We Be About to See a Chester Dungeon?

Spooky dungeonAn inventor is hoping to bring his idea of a tourist dungeon to life in Chester town centre, it has been revealed.

Ed Walley will be looking to create the innovatively named Chester Dungeon: a maze-like building underneath a former ladies’ boutique on Watergate Street. There will be pop up figures, ghoulish music and a sense of dread for all visitors. You can simply walk down five steps to access the dungeon and Walley has stated that there will be no queues as you wind your way around six passages of terror.

It’s not too dissimilar to the popular attractions in London and Blackpool with those two being the main inspiration for the prospective new attraction. Though it will be on a much smaller scale and won’t need performers, a few jobs will likely be created from the project for administration and customer service if it was successful.

Chester may be a place of beauty but there admittedly aren’t all that many tourist attractions to keep you entertained during your visit. According to a document released by Walley, who also created The Crocky Trail in Waverton, it could be just what the city needs:

“Chester is a beautiful city attracting millions of visitors to see its Rows and walls and Roman heritage. It is, however, short of popular entertainment and tends to die in the early evening. The dungeon will provide an extra attraction that is needed by such a popular destination.”

The tourist trade would benefit from the dungeon as it will open in line with regular bar and restaurant opening times. Although it’s unlikely to become as much of a regional treasure of Chester Zoo, what could be a better advertisement for the beautiful city than having your socks scared off?

Grosvenor Park to Be Opened Again by Duke of Westminster

Grosvenor ParkAfter restorations were finally completed, Grosvenor Park is all ready to be opened to the public once again and with the help of a very special guest.

The Duke of Westminster is set to unveil the restorations made to the historic site, a full 147 years after his great ancestor played a huge part in its initial opening way back in 1867. Richard, 2nd Marquess of Westminster, decided to donate 20 acres of his estate to Chester’s citizens so that they could use it as a public park.

Thanks to a big revamp, the park is now likely to be just as amazing as it was for visitors over a decade ago. The Duke will be there on Monday the 28th of July to do the honours after a £2.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), more than £1m from council coffers and £30,000 from WREN has helped to reinvigorate the flagging landmark.

“I am delighted to be given this opportunity to open a revitalised Grosvenor Park,” he said.

“It is a vital and much-loved part of Chester city centre, and I am grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, WREN and, of course, the council for providing the finds for such an important project.”

A café, public meeting rooms, a training and events pavilion, public toilets and a new natural play area are among some of the changes and additions made.

Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “The Marquess was many years ahead of his time in realising the value that parks would have for urban communities. Over the years his vision has given pleasure to millions of people.

“This programme of restoration will ensure that Grosvenor Park continues to occupy a special place in the life of Chester residents and a wonderful attraction for its visitors.”

No doubt the people of Chester will welcome the re-opening of one of their most iconic places and that it acts as a conduit for everything great in their city for the next 147 years!

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300 Jobs Created in Cheshire Car Plant

Vauxhall AstraGreat news for employment prospects in Cheshire as it’s been announced that a car production factory will be looking to take on hundreds of new employees in the near future.

The Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port is aiming to employ 300 new people and the company owned by the US’ General Motors are looking to expand for the first time in over a decade. Considering it was close to closing in 2012, this comes as great news for the area.

The increase is due to increased demand in volume for the Astra: the Vauxhall model that is exclusively produced at the Ellesmere Port location. Along with the Luton van manufacturing arm, 550 new staff will be hired in total and the those currently employed are essentially safeguarded due to recent success.

The all new Astra will begin production towards the end of 2015 and the plant will eventually be able to produce almost 200,000 vehicles per year in a project which has been subject to £125 million in investment.

After the announcement which will see new employees hired at the start of 2015, the chairman of Vauxhall, Tim Tozer, said: “This is great news for Vauxhall and for British manufacturing.

“Both of our UK manufacturing plants have won long contracts with all-new product and as the business strengthens, we now need to take on more people to build these exciting new Vauxhalls.”

Speaking in 2012 when the factory was posed with real jeopardy of closing down, Vince Cable said: “I personally have been to General Motors in the USA twice to plead the case with the top men in the company, to persuade them this was a very good place to be. Here they have a flexible plant and a co-operative Labour force.”

It’s an effort that looks like it’s definitely paid off as the future has never looked clearer for the plant and if it continues to experience success, don’t be surprised to see more jobs created locally too.

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Baby Komodo Dragons Arrive at Chester Zoo

The Komodo DragonAs one of the best places for animals of all shapes and sizes to be conserved, protected and cared for, it should come as no surprise that Chester Zoo has jumped at the chance to take responsibility for three new baby Komodo dragons this month!

Each are just three month old females and can currently fit into the palm of your hand – quite the difference from their full-grown stage as adults! Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on the planet and are notorious for being fearsome predators so you’d expect the zookeepers to be appreciating the cuteness while it still lasts.

Originating from Colchester, the dragons will have to have constant care fed at least every four days so they grow into their full, formidable size. Komodo’s can live for up to 30 years with Jantan and Ora, current residents at Chester Zoo, being adults with a few years under their belts.

Dr Gerardo Garcia of Chester Zoo said: “Our feisty new trio may be small at the moment but they’ll soon grow into impressive young ladies.

“With them being just a few months old they are fed every four days, unlike our older dragons who currently feed every month. It’s really important that our keepers get to work closely with dragons of different ages as they are very, very different. The intensive care they give to these animals and all of the skills they learn working with them here, can be transferred to the field and could be crucial in terms of protecting them in the wild.”

This is just another step in the zoo’s initiative to raise the conservation profile for Komodo dragons. On the Indonesian isle of Flores, these magnificent animals are currently at an endangered status. By highlighting how important the dragons are to the local environment with security measures implemented to be maintained by the local people, Chester Zoo are doing more than most to preserve the future of these legendary lizards.

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Chester Zoo Visited by 1.5 Million in 2013

Lemur at Chester ZooIf you’re yet to visit Chester Zoo (really?), you can count yourself amongst the 1.5 million who visited one of the North’s best attractions when you finally make the trip as the long-running landmark has had a stellar year.

An amazing one a half million people stepped through the gates of Chester Zoo in 2013, making it the most visited attraction outside of London. In fact, it even had more people visit than at the Houses of Parliament! It must be something to do with the red pandas…

This continues the distinction for the Upton-based attraction and conservation centre of being massively popular as it has been ousting the capital’s most famous haunts for three years straight now. In fact, Chester Zoo has even been visited 100,000 times more than its supposedly larger cousin, London Zoo!

Perhaps its great popularity boils down to a recent baby boom, as managing director Jamie Christon explains: “We are delighted to take the top spot yet again and I think that’s proof that we’re doing things right.

“Last year we had a host of breeding successes including tiger and cheetah cubs and rhino calves, all of which have been important for conservation but also a big draw for visitors.

“This year we have already seen the birth of a rare Grevy’s zebra foal and the arrival of two new Komodo dragons.”

And the purple patch for the zoo looks like continuing as plans to build the Islands project, on a larger scale than anything seen before in the country, continue to develop: “We’re constantly evolving and offering people new and exciting things to come and experience,” Mr Christon continued.

“In previous years this has included world first attractions such as our display of animatronic bugs and with the opening of Islands fast approaching, we can guarantee that there are very exciting times ahead.”


Restaurant in Chester at the Top of the Pile

SH_Grilled_SteakThere are so many exquisite places of dining in Chester that it can sometimes be a case of being spoiled for choice. One restaurant in Chester which has come in for glittering praise though is Upstairs at the Grill.

With its charming interior which is transatlantic in aesthetics, there’s a certain aura to this burgeoning restaurant as soon as you walk through the door. It’s this kind of splendour which has seen it placed 7th in a list of the best restaurants throughout the U.K.

Top Table is a site dedicated to dining enthusiasts who can share their opinions on various establishments throughout the country. Realising how pithy online reviewers can be, it’s a sure statement of the quality of Upstairs at the Grill.

Specialising in steak, Upstairs offer you your meal to your exact requirements of colouring and cooking. Only the best and most elite beef is sourced to be on your plate which goes superbly with a glass of a little something from the special wine menu.

Beaten out by the likes of Gordon Ramsay, the marketing manager, Jennie Grimes, could have no complaints at the end of the day saying: “It is testament to the hard work that goes in to making sure diners have a memorable experience with us.

“Everyone works so hard – from the owners, to those in the kitchen, to our waiters and waitresses. They all play a huge part in our success.

“This news can only be a good thing for the Chester area. We have seen this list appear in foreign newspapers and websites in places such as India and Germany and any positive publicity we can create for the city is great.”

“We are all very proud.”

Beating out the likes of Chester is quite the achievement for this small eatery from the Chester area and its success is sure to be built on for the future with more accolades bound to follow.

Chester Lantern Parade a Success

lantern paradeA previous highlight of the annual Chester calendar continued to be so as 2013’s edition of this highly popular event for the whole family proved to be a fantastic night for all.

One of the most traditional aspects of Christmas is the lighting of lanterns to signify special meanings for the year that’s passed. This was something that schoolchildren from all over the area were enjoying as they traversed the streets with their very own brilliant lanterns.

Primary schools from all over were very into the proceedings with many of them displaying some really advanced designs to the amazement of adults and parents who were delighted to see their child walk past in the parade.

Schools such as Chester Bluecoat, the Arches, Tarporley, Horn’s Mill and Cherry Grove were all delighted to be a part of the community occasion which has found a soft spot in many hearts for many years over Christmas time.

The kids navigated their creations all the way from Town Hall Square before travelling to St Werburgh Street via the iconic cathedral and finally onto the Cross. Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Jill Holbrook, then switched the lights on at the impressive Christmas tree; much to the delight of all young walkers.

To prepare the young artists for the grand event, respected artist Russell Kirk has been giving them workshops on how to make the perfect lantern in coalition with various members of the artistic side of Chester Council. The work evidently paid off as there were some truly outstanding lanterns which ranged from all shapes and size but each and every one was unique.

Cllr Stuart Parker was delighted at the end result:“The Lantern  Parade is always a favourite with late night  shoppers and is a fantastic community  event.

“Local primary school children get involved in both the artistic side of producing the lanterns and in the performance on the night – bringing a special event to the city.”

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10 Facts About Chester

Chester Roman Ruins

Everyone who’s ever stepped foot in Chester will undoubtedly have been blown away by its sheer beauty and fantastic sights. It should come as no surprise then that it made 5th place on a list of Europe’s best-looking cities.

To commemorate this achievement, here are some facts about Chester that you may not have known about.

  1. Chester used to be known as ‘Deva’ back when the Romans had a settlement back in 79 AD. It was used as a fortress and was once of the largest throughout Britain.
  2. It’s lasted the years and is claimed to be the best preserved walled city throughout Britain as there are little lapses in the quality throughout the town walls.
  3. St Werburgh is the patron saint Chester. He had a massive impact on convent reform for the whole of England.
  4. Although welcoming to all cultures in this day and age, the Chester of 1403 was a no-go for any people from Wales. Henry V ordered that they all be banished from its grounds or suffer execution.
  5. The magnificent Chester Cathedral is the most popular tourist attraction all throughout the North West region and is a place of respected worship.
  6. A stroll will undoubtedly allow you to come across the Roman amphitheatre: a major attraction which used to seat 7000 spectators. It is the largest of its ilk in the country.
  7. A hard to miss venue is the Chester Racecourse which is also the oldest of its kind and also a sporting venue in general. 1539 saw the first race taking placing there with many more years of competition to follow.
  8. Chester’s Rows are unique in that they are present in all four of the city’s main streets and cannot be found elsewhere in the world; a definite walking opportunity if ever there was one.
  9. As of 2011, 118,200 people resided in Chester with them being varied across all kinds of background but with the majority claiming Christianity as their religious belief.
  10. King Arthur is reputed to have taken part in a bloody battle within the city.

Olympian to Light Up Christmas

Christmas TreeOne of Chester’s all-time famous daughters is set to return to the city for some local festivities this year when Beth Tweddle gets the Christmas party started.

As well as being a medal-winning Olympian, Ms. Tweddle had a stint on Dancing On Ice and wowed the judges with her moves as she dazzled on the rink in front of a packed audience every Saturday night.

Now, she will be making a return to the historic city of Chester to be a part of the lights being turned on at the 24ft Christmas tree as well as having the privilege of officially opening the ice rink. With this and so much more to look forward to, the Christmas Parade of Light will be a rea cracker.

Spectacular sights abound as the parade makes its way through the sure to be packed town market all the way to the Winter Wonderland at Chester Racecourse. With the inspiration behind the parade being fairy tales, the Queen of Light will be guiding her troupe throughout the city as they all regale and get you in the Christmas spirit.

Dancers and lantern holders from local schools will relish the opportunity to be alongside Santa Claus on his sleigh as he delights the audience with his merry wishes. The real show begins when the group finally arrives at the Winter Wonderland though.

Visitors will be treated to so much fine entertainment with ice skaters, choirs and a sample of the brilliant Snow Queen: a definite must for any theatre-goer in the area. Local celebrities Indigo City will be bringing their girl band glamour to the stage too in what will be another step on the ladder for the promising young act.

With free admission for all, there’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit this November than in Chester this 21st of November.

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