In February 1994, the plans for Crinkley Bottom were unveiled at a press conference, with a smiling Noel Edmonds and John Taylor signing contracts and agreeing on suitable locations for the park’s attractions. Work began that spring, with Mr Blobby’s House and Noddy in Toytown being among the fist attractions to be made.
After months of hard work, Crinkley Bottom at Cricket St Thomas was officially opened by Noel Edmonds on the weekend of 2-3 July 1994. Mr Blobby and his wife were present, and a large Garden Party was held in homage to Noel’s House Party.
However within weeks of opening, the cracks began to show in Crinkley Bottom’s foundations. A joke sign had been added to the official ‘Cricket St Thomas’ road sign, declaring ‘Twinned with Crinkley Bottom’, which the Somerset County Council frowned upon and ordered to be removed.
Additionally, the quarry that housed Mr Blobby’s House and part of Crinkley Bottom High Street had allegedly been built without full planning permission. Eventually the concerns were dropped when it was decided that Mr Blobby’s House was adequately hidden from intruding on the landscape, but Crinkley Bottom’s problems were far from over. The park had more bad publicity following some questionable treatment to the elephants in the wildlife park, for which Edmonds was blamed yet again.
Neighbours complained about the amount of noise that was being generated by attractions and live events, and the English Heritage were concerned that the image of the Grade 1-listed estate was being spoilt by Blobby attractions.
However, footfall on the park told a different story, with over 500,000 people visiting Crinkley Bottom in its first season. By the summer of 1995, Crinkley Bottom was so popular that one couple held their wedding at the park, and even had Mr Blobby at their reception. A new attraction, TV’s Family Favourites, was launched in July 1995 and was an instant success.
Edmonds again pushed to build a replica Great House, but this was officially vetoed by the Somerset County Council in August of the same year. 1995 concluded with its millionth customer entering its gates; two year-old Emmy Turl was greeted by Mr Blobby on arrival to the park in October, and was treated to lunch with the pink star and a years’ free entry to the park.
By the mid-90s, Mr Blobby’s novelty was beginning to fade, and the 1996 season at Crinkley Bottom was not a happy one. With the thirtieth anniversary of the wildlife park just a year away, the Taylors and Edmonds agreed to part ways that September. Due to licensing constraints, Mr Blobby and the other TV-themed attractions remained at the park, although the attraction was rebranded as Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park once more. Entry prices were reduced, and more emphasis was made on the local community and the park’s heritage.
During 1997, it was decided that all mention of Mr Blobby should be removed to distance the park from its controversial Crinkley Bottom era. Mr Blobby’s House was closed, and signs displaying Blobby-related titles were blacked out with gaffer tape.
Check out full sets of pictures here
Thanks to https://www.dunblobbin.com/parkhistory for the history of the park