Penrith is a medium sized market town sitting just a few miles outside of the Lake District national park. Penrith is in the county of Cumbria and is a popular spot with visitors who want to explore the Lake District. The town is located in the Eden Valley and there is some beautiful scenery in the area that many people enjoy visiting. The town has a population of around fifteen thousand but this often increases due to tourists visiting the area. Penrith is not quite as popular as other towns in the area which means it can be a little bit more quiet in the summer months. This is a market town which means it has a nice little market that runs during the week and can be interesting to look round. There are some other nice shops in the town, things ranging from galleries to hardware stores. There are also some interesting outdoor shops that sell a range of equipment and also some excellent book shops that are interesting to browse round. When it comes to accommodation there are some nice hotels and guest houses in the area. There is not quite as much choice as in some of the other nearby towns but there are still some good quality bed and breakfasts as also some larger hotels. Another good option when staying in the area is privately owned holiday homes, there are some lovely little communities in the area and some really nice cottages available. Penrith has some very nice places when it comes to eating out. There are some nice pubs located in the centre of the town, these always have a good atmosphere. There are also a few restaurants ranging from Italian food right through to Curry houses. There are also a few places that do fast food in the town which some people may enjoy. If you travel out of Penrith there are some great places to visit. Most will head for the Lake District but there are some stunning places in the other direction. The Pennines lie to the East of Penrith and are a great place to explore. The town of Alston is the highest town in the UK and the drive up there really is spectacular. There are also some great walks in the area, either up in the mountains or down in the beautiful Eden Valley. Overall Penrith is a really nice place to visit. There are so many great places to visit in the area and also plenty to do in the town itself. Most people flock to the Lake District so this is a nice alternative if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists. If you have never been to Penrith then it really is a nice little town to go and see.
Penrith is a lovely town in Cumbria and is known as the Gateway to the Lakes, being as it is, on the edge of the Lake District. It is a large town dating back to the Roman times and was once the capital of Cumbria. It is now a nice shopping centre with a good mix of traditional shops and arcades. The ruins of Penrith Castle still stand in the town and are interesting to explore. Pretty and interesting as Penrith is it will only ever mean one thing to me and that's Lilliput Lane, because that's where the studio is based. The Lilliput Lane studio is easy to find as it is just off the Penrith exit of the motorway. I began collecting Lilliput Lane cottages when I moved into my current house in 1989 and my parents bought me a cottage called Inglewood as a housewarming present. It started a hobby that has grown and grown. I now have over 100 cottages and am fast running out of space to house them all. David J Tate MBE founded the company making Lilliput Lane cottages in 1982. He is a Yorkshireman and originally began making models of the buildings that he had loved as a child, but in detail such as had never been seen before. To make a Lilliput Lane cottage the first thing that happens is that the sculptor makes a model of the building concerned. This is then covered with silicone to make a master mould, from which further moulds are then made. The cottages themselves are made from Amorphite a specially produced material, which enables the detail to be seen clearly. They are passed to teams of painters who have strict instructions as to the colours to be used for the painting process. If you take the tour of the Penrith studios you can see this happening! A guide who knew all about every process of the making of the cottages took us on the tour. It was really interesting and it was free for Dave and me as I am a member of the Collectors Club. There is also a museum of the cottages and a shop where you can buy current models together with some retired models. They also make a few cottages that are only available from the studio itself, such as models of the actual shop and café there. Each of the cottages produced has a small stamp on it, known as a Backstamp, giving the name of the company and the year that the model was made. Some of the cottages are based on actual properties such as Bridge House in Ambleside and others are based on a type of property prevalent in a particular area. They also make ranges of cottages such as the Beatrix Potter range; including properties which she owned and subsequently donated to the National Trust and properties which she featured in her books - The Tower Bank Arms being one of these. Other ranges include the British Landmarks range, which has Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Micklegate Bar in York and many more. They also produce an annual cottage for the collectors' club members as a free gift, one to buy each year, and a further one at Christmas. As these are only available for one year before retirement the value increases quite quickly over subsequent years. There is an English range as well as Scottish, Welsh and Irish and there are also ranges from America, France and Holland. Each cottage comes with deeds and a card explaining where the real cottage or type of cottage can be found and a bit of information about the real property. Quite often we have been out visiting somewhere and I have spotted a building, which I have represented in Lilliput Lane form. The beautiful old wooden church at Greenstead in Essex and All Saints at Watermillock in the Lake District are two that I have spotted on the map and when we found them they were unmistakable as the models I had got at home. Luckily Dave is kind enough to drive off the beaten track to try and find these for me! The cottages increase in value as they are only available for a limited time and are then retired. This of course makes them rarer and so the price escalates. The original cottage, which started my collection, was about £10 when bought as new and is now worth £70 so you see what I mean. One of the rarest cottages (and no I don't have one) is The Cliburn School. Lilliput Lane made only 64 of these models and they were given to the pupils and staff of the school on the day of its closure. They were never available for general sale and are now valued at £2,500 each. I keep a complete list of all my cottages, when and where bought, by whom and why, for sentimental reasons but I also keep a note of the current value just in case I ever need the information for insurance purposes. Luckily on the two occasions that one of my houses was burgled none of my cottages were touched. I am a member of the collectors club and they send me a current price/value list each year so I keep my list up to date from that. There is also a website at www.lilliputlane.co.uk, which gives information about the cottages, the collectors club and the studios at Penrith. There are also pictures of a cottage in its various stages of development, if you're interested. The only real problem with collecting Lilliput Lane cottages is that they are a nightmare to dust! I realise that this review is mostly about one specific aspect of Penrith but it is a major part of the economy of the town these days so I hope that I will be forgiven!
The first question I can hear many of you say is, what is Lilliput Lane? Lilliput Lane is a collection of handcrafted cottages and buildings based on actual properties throughout the UK, Europe, USA and Canada, although most are from the UK. The Lilliput Lane Company was founded in 1982 by David Tate (now MBE), his wife and 2 daughters. This is based at Skirsgill, Penrith, Cumbria, England. He originates from his native Yorkshire. From there, during his childhood he visited many places of interest in the countryside. This interest has inspired him to carry out a self-taught craft of making the buildings he visited into magnificent works of art in glorious miniature. All the pieces go through lots of processes before being sent to shops for us to buy as collectors. Over the 20 years the company has been operating countless techniques have been developed in-house to capture all the detail we see on the buildings. To begin with I will endeavour to go through some of the operations needed to produce the cottages/shops/buildings etc. Firstly - Research All cottages start out as sketches. These are created from hundreds of photographs taken by the people who will make the cottage. The photos are usually taken from all angles to capture the character of the property. If a photo is needed from an angle within the gardens, then permission is sought from the property?s owner. Secondly - Sculpting From the sketches, a very detailed wax original is made. This actually becomes the master. A sculpture may take several weeks to create, as each and every tile, slate and flower is individually put onto the model. Thus, when you see the finished product you can marvel at the individuality of it, and note that the roofs are not scraped or scored as could be easily thought of being done. Thirdly - Casting From this wax original, many moulds are created to cast ?real? replicas. The material used is Amorphite (which is licensed to Lilliput Lane), and comes from the Nottingham area of England. This casting is actually done by hand. The method used is hand pouring the liquid Amorphite into the moulds. Just as a note: no machines are used in any of the processes of making the cottages. Fourthly - Dipping This process enables the cottages to be painted correctly by applying the relevant coating to show the real texture of building materials the actual cottages are made out of. Lastly - Painting The highly trained painters are capable of all aspects of painting, whether this is a plain white building or an intricate pattern of colours for flowerbeds and trees. Only one person paints all of one cottage and then signs the base. After painting, the finished model has a green baize placed on the bottom and labelled before a final check is made. It is then boxed and shipped to shops. All the boxes and packaging are made on site at Skirsgill. This enables each cottage to reach us in perfect condition. No seconds of Lilliput Lane are sold. One of the best things about Lilliput Lane is that you can become a member of their club. My wife joined about three years ago. When you join at £16.50GBP per year you will receive a cottage each year as a favour from the company. You will also get the membership handbook, regular club mailings and the club magazine. Another feature of membership is the special privileges. These can include offers on cottages not available to the general public. We have recently visited the Lilliput Lane Visitor Centre at Skirsgill. There you can have a guided tour of the factory and purchase goods from the shop. We found the tour extremely informative. For more information about the visitor centre you can ring 01768 212692 (+44 1768 212692 from outside UK), or visit the web site at www.lilliputlane.co.uk There are literally hundreds of co ttage s that you can buy, ranging in price from £9.99GBP to £650.00GBP. One of the favourite cottages we have bought is PEN PALS. This is based on a post office. I can certainly recommend Lilliput Lane to anyone wishing to collect these wonderful models. I can also highly recommend a visit to their Visitor Centre and factory.