AN ESCAPE Room has been set up in the town centre as part of the Arts In Libraries project. Teams have to solve a series of hidden puzzles to escape from the large 1980s inspired room within an hour. The Star’s Paula Morris went along to try it out.

THE Escape room stands in the middle of Central Library, a bit like the landed Tardis in an episode of Dr Who.

I was asked along to take the challenge, named St Helens Vs The Lizards, of escaping the room – which is done out as 10-year-old ‘Sam’s’ bedroom and set in the 1980s – using teamwork and intelligence.

The team, consisting of me, two other adults and two children, had an hour to solve a series of puzzles, using clues provided by teletext, ‘80s pop memorabilia and toys. Given my Sudoku prowess and experience of childhood and teenage years in the ‘80s, I was quietly confident.

Owen Hutchings, senior arts in libraries officer for St Helens Council, introduced the game.

He said: “The decor gives players a real sense of travelling back in time. It’s suitable for adults and children, and is something a bit different for people to do during the summer holidays.”

We were given time to familiarise ourselves with the objects in the room and given clues to help us to work our way through the puzzles via teletext on a television screen.

Without revealing too much – no need for a spoiler alert – I am relieved to say our team escaped within the hour and so avoided becoming lizard food.

As well as the experience itself, for anyone who grew up during the 1980s, being in the room is a nostalgia trip – with the graphic wallpaper and bedding, furniture and toys ranging from Star Wars and ET figures, computers and board games.

Councillor Jeanie Bell, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, who was a member of the team, said: “It was great fun! I’d recommend it to anyone; it’s a lovely thing for families to do together. I’ve booked again to go back with my children.

"It was like stepping into my own bedroom from back then. It’s a good example of the exciting arts programme in the town’s libraries – and being free, there’s no barrier to anyone getting involved.”

Funded by the Arts Council, the project is being coordinated by digital arts collective Re-Dock, working with escape room specialists Exit Strategy.

Pupils from Penkford School, in Newton-le-Willows, along with other children and library customers, have contributed to the design, concept and puzzles within the escape room.

St Helens Vs The Lizards is open from August 15 to 29, excluding Sundays and Mondays.

To give the challenge a try, book online at