Remembering Tower Park – Richard Carr

For regular readers of the Bournemouth Echo you will have seen their recent article reminiscing about Tower Park and its most popular attractions Ice Trax and the Venue; the latter was owned and operated by Allied Leisure PLC.

Richard Carr was the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Allied Brand formally Restaurants and then becoming Allied Leisure PLC. He had built the company from the start in 1981 before floating it on the London Stock Exchange in 1987. In 1990 he sold the Restaurant Division to Grand Metropolitan for in excess of £13 million.

Although Richard wasn’t the land owner of Tower Park, he is widely recognised as being the catalyst that made it happen. Staking his entire reputation on the venture at the time (1989), Allied Leisure took the lease for almost all of the park!

Richard Carr

Richard Carr at the Venue –


In total, Allied Leisure PLC rented over 1.5 acres of space and helped Tower Park become the ‘out of town’ leisure concept which proved to be a national success and was replicated all over the UK.

Allied Leisure’s assets at Tower Park all proved to be landmark leisure assets which many other companies copied.

After Allied sold its fast food business in 1990, Richard built a chain of 10-Pin bowling centres as far north as Edinburgh and as far south as Poole under the brand name Megabowl revolutionising Ten Pin Bowling in the UK and worldwide after years of decline he showed what a modern centre could achieve he was asked to speak at many conferences on the subject. He also was the pioneer of the multi room Nightclub concept with the Venue at Tower Park which is even today seen as the standard model in large capacity venues.

The entertainment complex opened its doors in 1989 and 27 years on the Echo has featured some superb images from back in the day. They also asked their readers to share some of their memories, a few are listed below.

“The ice rink should have stayed , it was great fun and would have been something for all ages to still enjoy today.”

“Great Days but you forgot Colonaddes the Bar under the Venue!”

“Used to take our daughter skating at Ice Trax , we need that back again her children would love it.”

“I loved The Venue, Colonnades and Ice trax it was the best and made my journey from teen to adult so much fun and so much easier! Everyone I knew, we all pretty much lived up Tower Park after work was over & weekends! Just wish there was some way to bring it back for my daughter and friends and myself again! I love ice-skating round and round and down and up! Wonderful memories, Thankyou Allied Leisure!!!” 

Richard commented thank you to all the staff and people who helped him make this possible and sadly today we are left with nothing that compares with what was achieved 27 years ago, but there is an old saying: “Pioneers often get arrows in their back”!

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