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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Carlisle's Laser Quest centre in fight for survival

Carlisle's Laser Quest tag game centre is locked in its own battle for survival after taking a hit from the UK’s economic downturn.

Laser quest photo
Laser Quest could close in six weeks

Staff at the Victoria Viaduct business fear that it could close within six weeks if they can not get more punters through the door.

Their “use it or lose it” warning has come amid a continuing spate of bad economic news, which this month included the closure of Jessops stores across the country, including in Carlisle.

At its peak, the city’s branch of Laser Quest – whose star attraction is an indoor laser gun tag game – pulled in more than 500 players a week.

In recent months, that figure has dipped to 300, though at times there are as few as 200.

The business employs five people – two full time and three part time. Manager Dougie Kerr, 56, who has worked at the centre for 13 years, said: “We are now reviewing the situation every fortnight, and we don’t know how long we can keep going.

“It could be that if people don’t use this place more then within six weeks we will be gone. We haven’t put our prices up for three years.

“I suppose it’s a combination of the economy and people not knowing about us. A lot think we’re closed. It’s a family-owned business and they’re passionate about it. They know it can help keep kids off the streets.”

In recent years, Laser Quest Carlisle, which is part of a UK franchise, has pulled in some notable and unusual players. They include the then Radio One DJ Chris Moyles while he was here for the Big Weekend event in 2011, local vicars, and the Irish pop duo Jedward.

“They wanted to come here when they played at the Racecourse but we couldn’t let them because one of them had a broken leg,” said Mr Kerr.

He added: “This is a brilliant place to work. In the past, it’s done well simply because of word of mouth. It’s a lot of fun and we offer more than people realise.”

The business, which has been open in Carlisle for 19 years, has also been used by Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service a as venue for training firefighters’ search and rescue procedures in dark conditions.

Have your say

After reading this i decided to take my 9yr old nephew on saturday. He loved it £14 for 2 games for 2 people. Cant complain got us out for an hour and it was the first time iv seen it that packed full 20 people in. The only downside is the equipment is dated. The decor just adds to the effect i think it works. But the old scruffy gaming machines as well could do with an update. I will be back though. Long as it is open

Posted by Sparky on 30 January 2013 at 21:24

My family and I found out about LQ on superdaysout.com and had a great time down there. I thought the place had shut down years ago!

When you look on that website at all the options for places to go with your kids you realise that unless things are kept fresh and in the minds of visitors they can very quickly become out of favour which appears to have happened here.

This news article itself has raised a lot of awareness of the place and I hope it helps maintain its survival.

Posted by Daniel on 28 January 2013 at 13:44

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