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Remembering when Ribby Hall village was caravans and a muddy field

Posted on - 5th April, 2019 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, History, Nostalgia, Preston News
What Ribby Hall used to look like in 1994
What Ribby Hall used to look like in 1994

What’s become one of Preston’s luxury boltholes and holiday parks marks 25 years this year.

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Ribby Hall Village began life in 1994.

With the UK beginning to recover from a deep recession the Harrison family purchased a mainly derelict ‘caravan site’ in Wrea Green.

Now the 100-acre site is home to a spa, health club, holiday cabins, wedding venue, restaurants and more.

More than a million visits are made to Ribby Hall each year and chief executive Paul Harrison has been reflecting on how the complex has grown.

Paul Harrison, chief exec of Ribby Hall
Paul Harrison, chief exec of Ribby Hall

Paul said: “My father (Bill) was 72 at the time but he clearly wanted one more business challenge.

“So, despite the numerous unknowns, concerns and raised eyebrows, he bought it within days.

“We had a vision to develop an independent holiday village with an unrivalled choice of luxury, self-catering accommodation, and a variety of leisure and dining facilities.”

Construction work in 1995 at Ribby Hall
Construction work in 1995 at Ribby Hall

Ribby Hall’s main construction was completed in 2004 and since then has continued t add new attractions.

It now employes 600 people across its leisure outlets.

Paul said: “My background is in the construction industry, so the actual building of The Village was quite straightforward.

“But becoming such a significant employer is a huge responsibility and I had to learn very quickly.

“I wanted Ribby to be a place where people enjoy coming to work and I hope the fact that most of my senior managers have worked here for over 20 years reflects this. We are all committed to creating an ideal working environment because we believe that if people are happy in their work, it will really show and will have a very positive impact on the business.”

The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall
The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall

Paul’s father Bill passed away in August 1999 before seeing the total transformation of the muddy field he bought in 1994.

Paul said: He’d be surprised to see how far we have come, but I like to think he’d be delighted at how we’ve surpassed his original vision.

“I’m sure he would approve of the high standards we set throughout The Village but, mostly, I think he would be astonished that we employ almost 600 people and would be very proud of the positive impact we have had on the local community.”

And what’s next for Ribby Hall?

Paul said they are hoping to make a big announcement about further expansion during the Spring.

He said: “We’ve made some of our most significant business decisions in times of recession and looking back these decisions have been successful. Whilst this has not made us complacent, it has instilled a confidence in us that, if we plan well and take all factors into consideration, we can achieve what we expect to achieve. We set clear objectives and work very hard until we achieve them.”

A timeline of Ribby Hall’s development

Interior at Ribby Hall
Interior at Ribby Hall

1994 – the muddy field was bought, plans were put in to build 175 cottages, 350 holiday homes, a hotel, sports facility, shop and restaurant. Work began in July.

1995 – Paul Harrison joins his father Bill in the business, and the original sports centre opened this year

1997 – First cottages open

2001 – The Village’s original hotel The Manor House opened, along with the sports centre, restaurant and nine-hole golf course

2004 – Main construction on the holiday park finishes

2005 – Luxury pine lodges added

2009 – Starbucks opens, award a 5-star status by Visit England

2011 – The SPA Hotel opens, costing £7million

Have you visited Ribby Hall? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below

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