Liverpools record breaking Christmas grotto belovedy generat
เวลา:2022-11-17

When the grotto first opened in Lewiss, it was know as Christmas Fairyland

The first meeting with Santa was all a bit too much for little Michael Edwards at Lewiss department store in Liverpool. But he loved his present. a toy gun. December 17, 1992

Theres a reason why Liverpools oldest Christmas grotto is so cherished and has been saved through the years.

Liverpool retail entrepreneur David Lewis, founder of the famous Lewiss store, opened the worlds first Christmas grotto in his Bon Marche storein Church Street in 1879.And from there, generations of Merseyside children had the magical moment of meeting Father Christmas for the first time.

When the grotto first opened in Lewiss, it was know as Christmas Fairyland and packed with festive decorations. The grotto at Lewiss never stayed with a constant theme either, fromFather Christmasbeing on the moon, to Alice in Wonderland and more.

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Decades on, the famous cavern-like venueofficially became the worlds oldest Santas grotto, according to Guinness World Records. And despite changing locations a few times in recent years, its remained as popular as ever and continues to be synonymous with childhood and Christmas traditions for many families in Merseyside.

Today,the ECHO reported how Liverpools oldest grotto will not return for Christmas 2022. Whilst we have to wait a little longer to enjoy the magic at the legendary grotto, weve taken a look back at its life and why it is so loved in the city.

Moving from Lewiss wasnt the end for the famous grotto and many still have fond memories of its days in Lewiss growing up. The ECHO previously asked what Christmas grotto in Liverpool do you miss that you wish you could revisit - and here are just a few of your responses.

Amanda Mcshane said: Lewiss my first born went there hes now 12 i went there as a kid was the best one for me growing up. Mary Sole said: Lewiss took my 3 girls there for many years and we loved it.

What are your memories of Liverpools oldest Christmas grotto? Let us know in the comments section below.

Fiona MacDonald commented: Lewiss , it was always magical. Deana Taylor wrote: Lewiss. It used to be a big day out for us in 70s/early 80s and it was always the real Santa.

Maria Mcgovern posted: Lewiss it was very magical for the children. Lisa Wilson said: I took my son to the Lewiss grotto before the shop closed for good. Even though it was in July (2010), they wanted to run it one last time. He was 4 months old! Me & my sister cried going round reminiscing about all the times wed been with our mum.

Tricia Higgins commented: Definitely Lewiss was the best grotto. And Debbie Hurt commented: Lewiss 100%, that was the best one for me.

Because it meant a great deal to many people in Liverpool, it was decided that the huge grotto would continue following the closure of Lewiss in 2010. That year it relocated to Rapid Hardware in the former George Henry Lee building on Church Street.

Mr Done, of Bournemouth, became the grotto photographer at Lewiss in the early 1980s andfell in love with the store and the city, so when the store closed, he decided to save the grotto.He previously told the ECHO: There was a definite void when Lewiss shut. Id worked there since 1983. This has very much become home.

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When Mr Done moved the grotto to Rapid the fourth floor of the former George Henry Lee building was a storage area so he set to work turning it into a winter wonderland. Many of the attractions came over from the Lewiss grotto, including the many animatronic elves and bears and the pirate ship.

And the first grotto at Rapid was themed around how Santa lost his home in Lewiss - and how he would then find a new home at Rapid. When Rapid closed in 2017, it threw the future of the grotto into the doubt - untilentrepreneur Guy Fennell read the ECHO report and stepped in to save the day.

At the time, Mr Fennell said: I heard that the grotto needed a home, through the ECHO. And Id always wanted to be involved in Christmas in some kind of way. So I thought Id give it a go.

Because of the heritage, we really wanted it to stay in Liverpool. All of the attractions which made the Lewiss grotto so popular were back, including models of local landmarks and a pair of eight-foot high animatronic polar bears.

That year, the grotto took visitors on a trip down memory lane, recreating some of its most magical and popular displays from years gone by, including Fairytale from 1879, Peter Pan from 1935 and Magical Winter Wonderland from 1982, 1992 and 2005. Both Everton and Liverpool football clubs were also represented in the displays, alongside The Beatles in The Cavern, the Radio City Tower and the Liverpool ECHO.

For more nostalgia stories, sign up to our Liverpool Echo newsletter here.

Today,the ECHO reported how Liverpools oldest grotto will not return for Christmas 2022.The grotto has not been held at St Johns Market since 2019, having been unable to go ahead in 2020 due to the UKs coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

The 2021 event did not go ahead either, with a note on the grottos website reading: We are disappointed not to be open this year, look forward to seeing you in 2022. Dating back to 1879, The Worlds Famous Grotto is the worlds oldest Santas grotto and remains the heart and soul of Christmas spirit throughout Liverpool and beyond.

However, it has now been confirmed that the grotto will not open this year. A spokesperson for St Johns said: We would love to put a grotto in the centre but there just isnt enough space in our malls for that to happen.

Instead, St Johns will be bringing magic to the malls with our Elfie Selfie initiative every weekend from Black Friday up until Christmas. There elves will be all around the Centre bringing their festive cheer to shoppers of all ages.

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