Shopping in 1980s Ashton-under-Lyne

Who remembers the joys of shopping in Ashton town centre during the 1980s?

Walking around the centre of Ashton-under-Lyne recently, I have often noticed how a Saturday in the Ashton of 2010 was a more sedate affair than the Ashton I knew of the 1980s. The greatest impact on this has been the shift of white goods retailers to the Snipe Retail Park, and of similar shops available in Ashton being attracted to the Crown Point North development in Denton. Another has been the dispersal of supermarkets to similar locations in borough. Most notably, this has included the opening of TESCO’s Stalybridge store (which has also have a grave effect on the nearby town centre itself), Morrisons’ first Tameside store in Dukinfield, and ASDA’s relocation from the northern to the southern side of Ashton in April 1989.

The 1980s Ashton was very much a part of my formative years. Prior to the opening of the Morrisons store in June 1986, most Dukinfield residents did their main shopping in Ashton, Hyde or Stalybridge. With Hyde, there was the massive Fine Fare store (now a Morrisons) which attracted cost-conscious car users. Likewise, the ASDA store on Langham Street in Ashton, which had a Kwik-Fit style outlet on the left hand side of the store. All three towns had thriving indoor markets whereas Hyde also had a privately owned market known as Super Market, in the former Hippodrome cinema.

My family were no exception, choosing either Stalybridge or Ashton for the ‘big shop’. Even after the opening of Morrisons we still bought some items in Ashton well in to the mid-1990s. Donoghue’s stall was our favoured butcher, our cheap frozen food came from Snow City, and The Egg Box was our favoured port of call for… guess?

So, stand in line, wait for an orange, brown and white double decker and hope your 346 arrives on time.

Ashton Bus Station

During this decade, there were three versions of Ashton bus station. One was the original 1963 structure with the stands pointing north to south. Then came the second version with stands pointing west to east from 1981. This was a transitional design, soon to be replaced with purpose built stands, reopening in March 1985. By 1985, the GMPTE owned/leased Metro Kiosk was sold to Martin Newsagents. Timetable information came from a separate office to that of ticket sales. Your SaverSeven pass or Wayfarer ticket would be bought from the SaverSales office a few yards away, separated by Bakers’ television shop.

The SaverSales office had a funky orange sign with the recognisable white Helvetica text and M-Blem. Bakers’ shop was the place to call in for anything of a Panasonic or Technics nature. As well as the latest audio visual gadgetry, it was close to the back entrance for Woolworths (handy for the pick and mix, though more so the records and tapes section) and the Wooden Spoon chippy – reputed to be the best in Ashton along with The Gold Medal. Further down from the SaverSales and Wooden Spoon units was the Enville Social Club, which was handy for the 400 Trans-Lancs Express route (the Airport or Stockport journeys used C stand).

Since 1985, the most marked change has been the inclusion of the Arcades Shopping Centre. Opening in autumn 1995, it occupied the site of the 1963 – 1994 bus stations, forcing GMPTE to move the 1994 version of the bus station closer to Wellington Road. Both tickets and timetable information are dealt with under one roof [the TfGM Travelshop]. As of January 2019, Ashton Bus Station is in the midst of change itself. The new-fangled Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange – due to open in 2020 – will be located nearer to the tram stop.

The Shopping Centre

During the 1980s, Ashton only had one shopping centre, the one known today as the Ladysmith Centre. In common with most UK towns, a lot of the white goods retailers had town centre units. On Staveleigh Way, you had Radio Rentals (the now vacant Cash Generator store), Rumbelows (now Holland and Barrett), Visionhire (now Greenhalgh’s bakery), Currys (now CeX) and Granada.

At one point, Granada had (for a brief period) a second shop on Mercian Way taking over the former Rediffusion showroom. Both North West Gas and NORWEB had their own showrooms. Bright House (appallingly high interest charging non-food retailer) occupies the former. Au Naturelle/Internacionale occupied the latter unit from 1998 before being split into two units (Cardzone and Meek’s Shoes are today’s tenants).

In 1985, you weren’t stuck for food options either. The Koffee Pot occupied a first floor unit, as did the Lancastrian Tandoori (entered from ground level between the Granada showrooms). The Koffee Pot had subdued lighting with low rise lamps sporting different shades, beaming towards each table. On the ground floor of Staveleigh Way, you had Wimpy. Prior to 1984, it was the sole fast food chain outlet in Ashton, and ideal for the Majestic/Gaumont/Odeon/Metro (delete as appropriate according to your age). The October of 1984 saw McDonalds take over the former Shoppers’ Paradise/Fine Fare unit on Warrington Street.

If you wanted to treat yourself, there was a clothes stall in a quadrangle overlooking Wimpy. Baggage offered as one would expect; cheap luggage and handbags. Close by was Dorothy Perkins, Burton’s the Tailors, Figaro’s hairdressers, Cameo Cosmetics, Precinct Jewellers and Manprice. If the Hit Parade tickled your fancy, Boots and Woolworths used to have good records and tapes sections. For more discerning tastes, there was the short lived yet hip B Records on the first floor, and The Sound House on the ground floor. Computer Base was one of Ashton’s first computer software retailers offering any game for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Oric-1 and the Atari 800.

Compared with the present day Ladysmith Centre, the Ashton Shopping Centre had a more diverse range of units. It was still very much in its late 1960s guise apart from the long-broken lift and escalator (the latter in a semi covered section between Victor Value and Rumbelows). There was by the late 1980s a fair few empty units on the first floor deck nearest the office block and dominant equally stairway. Today, the electrical retailers have since left and have been replaced by Pound Empire (gone), Poundworld (now empty), Perfect Home (a now closed another bad credit non-food store) and Home Bargains. Some smaller units have been added to Mercian Way.


In the 1960s, Coopers’ store on Warrington Street offered the self-service shopping experience to most Ashtonians. By the end of that decade, it became a Fine Fare, then Shoppers’ Paradise (the latter a cheaper version of Fine Fare, would you believe?) and of course today’s McDonalds. The first purpose built supermarket in the centre was Pricerite, which became a Kwik Save by the 1980s. With my parents impoverished by the Second Dole Age, the Kwik Save store on Bow Street was a regular haunt. It seemed colossal to me compared with the smaller Stalybridge branch. There was a separate clothes shop at the bottom of the store, and a butchers’ counter, again independent of Kwik Save. Milk was kept in a walk-through refrigerator with airtight (to waist level) plastic blinds!

Further down Bow Street was Iceland. Built on the site of the George and Dragon pub, it was originally TESCO’s Home and Wear store with the pub being shifted underground. It became an Iceland store in 1985, after TESCO changed the food only store on Staveleigh Way into Victor Value. Revived in 1985 as a hard discounter, TESCO revived the dormant name of a London based store chain acquired in 1972. By 1989, some Victor Value stores were sold to Kwik Save, with the Ashton store its second outlet in September of that year.

At the opposite side of the open market to Kwik Save and Iceland was Presto. The store opened in 1981, offering Ashton a higher quality alternative supermarket to TESCO and Shoppers’ Paradise. It was underneath Tameside MBC’s then new council offices and offered such delights including a bakery counter and an instore café.

By 2010, all the supermarkets left Ashton town centre, with the exception of an ALDI on Oldham Road/Wellington Road junction and a LIDL on Stamford Street/Cavendish Road. The Kwik Save stores became B&M Bargains and Home Bargains. Presto was renamed Safeway by its parent company Argyle Foods in 1989, and the Ashton store no longer assumed that role in 1992, when it became a Wilkinson store. Prior to the opening of Tameside One – TMBC’s replacement for TAC – Wilko moved to the former upstairs unit of Woolworths (in the Arcades Shopping Centre).

Department stores

With the lure of Manchester being a short bus ride away, Ashton had few department stores in the 1980s. The main two were Marks and Spencer and the Arcadia Department Store on Stamford Street. The former opened as an anchor store to the town’s shopping centre in 1968. It had in its early years a stall on Ashton Market, as a penny bazaar. Opposite, and subscribing to a similar business model in its early years, was the Woolworths store. With four entrances, it must have been a shoplifters’ paradise, so long as they liked stealing pick and mix, Smiths albums or Commodore 64 games.

Most of the department stores moved over to the precinct from Stamford Street in and around 1967. The Burton store moved to a smaller unit away from its more elegant one on Old Square. Woolworths followed suit moving from its smaller store off Warrington Street and Stamford Street. Littlewoods closed and became a Hitchens store, offering catalogue returns stock at lower prices. Comet on the other hand stayed on Stamford Street till the mid-1990s.

Whereas Manchester had Debenhams, Kendal Milne and Co, and Lewis’s in the 1980s, Ashton’s ‘must visit’ store was Arcadia. The Arcadia store was the centrepiece of the Ashton-under-Lyne Cooperative Society. Its plate glass windows wowed passersby into purchasing a new suite or colour TV at reasonable rates. The store had a car park at the front (thanks to space made available from the construction of Park Parade bypass) and behind the 1926 facade at first floor level. Cars were parked on top of the soft furnishings section with access via a steep ramp. There was also a café on the first floor.

Even now, the Arcadia store is missed by many Ashtonians with the beginning of the end being the replacement of the glass frontage by brick. The store closed in 1993, left empty and demolished in 1998 – 99, only to be replaced by the architecturally inferior Lidl (which has since been rebuilt). By then, Co-op department stores were becoming a dying breed which I think is a real shame, as I prefer the more easy-going shopping environment alien to today’s stores where loud music and harsh lighting reigns supreme.

Stamford Street

Prior to Metrolands’ shopping precinct, Stamford Street was the main shopping street in Ashton-under-Lyne. All the multiple store chains had a unit there with the Co-op at one time having more than one. Stretching from Stalybridge to Chester Square, it was hailed as the Earl of Stamford’s answer to Oxford Street and had the potential to rival London’s main street.

By the 1980s, Stamford Street was disfigured by the Park Parade bypass. From the east, it was split by the BT roundabout, leaving Ashton Parochial School out on a traffic fuelled limb. At the west, it was split by a realigned Oldham Road and a dead end on the Cavendish Street side. The main part of the street was dominated more by banks (Lloyds’, NatWest, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Midland Bank), pubs and independent retailers. Most of the multiples apart from the Co-op and Comet had left. Nighttime saw the Stamford Street of the 1980s come alive with pubs, restaurants and clubs open till the early hours. The most famous one was Blues, which was a popular club with LGBT and heterosexual groups alike.

Unlike the 1980s, let alone its zenith, Stamford Street in 2010 is far removed from the Earl of Stamford’s dream. Today, the pubs close early and its independent shops solder on.

Ashton Market

No shopping trip to Ashton-under-Lyne is ever complete without a visit to its famed market. The 1980s Ashton Market had smaller stalls compared with the present purpose-built ones, facing the indoor market’s clock tower. Some ran along the perimeter of the market hall frontage, interrupted only by a hot food unit.

No child of the 1980s in Tameside could forget the joys of Nadin’s stall. At the lower end of the market hall towards Market Street and Fletcher Street, this tightly positioned stall served what I thought was the Best Chocolate Milkshake in Ashton. There was only enough room for 20 standees, yet the stall was always popular. Other specialities included a Lucozade Float (yes, Lucozade topped with Vanilla Ice Cream!), Horlicks and hot Vimto. They also offered the usual crisps and Wagon Wheels, but there weren’t enough room for making sandwiches.

Close by was Redmans who had two stalls, the Co-op tobacconist stall, Cassons Shoes, and Galaxy Records. The latter was next to the heel bar on the left and a cosmetics stall on the right. Not far from there was Gleaves’ two stalls, offering biscuits from their works 5 minutes walk away, and traditional sweets.

In the food hall was Here’s Health, a little herbalist which my mother used to frequent before catching the 409 to Oldham (on D stand for your information back then!), The Pantry cake stall, RG Fish, and Donoghue’s butchers stall. Opposite was a frozen food stall which previously belonged to Snow City, prior to moving to a unit within the council offices block of shops near the bus station.

Another feature of the outdoor market was a wooden food stall which offered snacks nearest to McDonalds and The Cavern pub. On Tuesdays, there was (and still is of now) the Flea Market.

In contrast to Stamford Street, Ashton Market has had substantial refurbishment work and investment over the last two decades. The refit of the indoor market was caused by a fire in May 2004, which saw the stalls reconfigured and retaining walls from previous extensions demolished. The outdoor market has since seen the launch of a weekly Sunday secondhand market and a monthly Farmers’ Market (last Sunday in the month). Much as I like the refurbishment and investment, I still hanker for the Ashton Market of 1985 any day. It had character, mazy gangways and a wider variety of stalls. I especially miss Nadin’s milk shake stand.

Over to you

If you have any memories of Ashton Market or shopping in Ashton during the 1980s, feel free to share them.

S.V., 17 August 2010.

Updated on the 30 January 2019 to reflect present-day retail movements in Ashton-under-Lyne town centre.

42 Comments Add yours

  1. FelixFind says:

    Hello again Stuart,
    Another great article that has taken me back!

    I was born in 1983 so i dont remember all of the stores you have mentioned but i certainly remember the Ladysmith shopping centre the old way. As a child i spent many a Saturday being dragged about shopping with my mum, then finally before catching the bus home, being treated to a meal at Wimpy. I would always choose to sit in the window looking out over the square, many a time watching the round clothes stall packing up, i seem to remember there was also a roundabout ride in the middle as well.

    I also remember the the escalator and the upper section of the centre. As well as the escalator and stairs you could also access the upper level through Timpsons shoes.
    We would often travel up to Ashton during the week, to pay the gas bill in the bas shop or the the electric bill in the Norweb shop.

    The bus station seemed a magical place back then, my older brother was a keen football player and we would often visit Mida Sport’s, although i would stay outside and watch all the buses coming and going, as the alighting stand was right outside the shop on the other side of the railing’s.
    I remember Snow City, and also a shop next door i think called ‘The Full Monty’ which was a mini Wilkinsons at the time.

    As a teenager me and my mates would often travel to Ashton on a Saturday from Droylsden, normally on the 168/169 GM Atlanteans or Mayne’s 234/235 [which ever came first], and the indoor market was always my favourite place. It just had a magical feel about it, the atmosphere, the narrow walkways, the dark corners, and the smell. Barry Gleaves sweet stall had a huge display for ‘kid’s mix’, which was a huge 1lb bag of mixed sweets [seconds i think] for 99p but it was buy one get one free, so for 99p you got a whole 2lb of sweets. [No wonder my teeth are so bad lol]
    We would often visit the music stall, and i think it was still called Galaxy records, buying tapes slightly cheaper than Woolworths and Boots, and if by any chance one of us got lost, we would all meet at the red phone box near the butchers.

    Sadly Stuart im with you. Ashton, like all Tamesides once thriving market towns has been damaged by the huge retail parks, and although Ashton seems to be ok, with very few empty units im certain its no where near as busy once was in the past, and although im still very proud of being from Ashton, its just not the same any more.

    All the best,


  2. Hello again FelixFind, great to see you remember most of the old Ashton I could recall.

    I remember the roundabout ride in the shopping precinct, though I think that may have been a short lived addition. Unless of course you may be thinking of the roundabouts at the open market end. I do remember Timpsons, and the joys of walking upstairs to the children’s section of the shop. We rarely went to Timpsons, opting for Cassons opposite Galaxy Records (price).

    Referring to the bus station anecdote, I would assume you were referring to 1993, when redevelopment of Ashton bus station (to accommodate The Arcades) resulted in temporary stands on the Midasports and Snow City side of Warrington Street. My school’s sports kit could only be bought from there (or P&C Sports Stalybridge, or Sportsfeet in Hyde). I would assume your school may have had a similar deal. Sitting on the window ledge of Snow City offered a similar sensation to the railings near Midasports.

    I remember the Fullmonte shop more for its security guards. For a little shop they didn’t half watch you like hawks in case you ran off with a knock-off England shell suit. Around that time you also had ‘Just Wot U Need’ on Old Street. Twice the size, it occupied the present-day amusement arcade unit and a prefabricated building on Wellington Street (now separated and trading as The Curiosity Corner). In the mid-late 1980s, there was ‘It’s Incredible’ on Warrington Street facing The Caledonia pub.

    I never saw the escalator nor the lift in working order at any one time! My late Nana used to go to the Wimpy bar because of a special deal they did, where a £1.00 got you a toasted teacake and a mug of coffee. My nearest Wimpy in Huddersfield still does a similar deal now (though not for a pound)!

    Having worked in Manchester for several years, I tend to get anything I cannot find in Tameside there, or on the internet. The outdoor stalls are less varied compared with 15 – 20 years ago, but the Farmers’ market and flea markets are always a joy to visit. I find the Arcades too chaotic and consider it as the borough’s biggest bus shelter.

    Bye for now,



  3. FelixFind says:

    Hi Stuart,

    No there was certainly a roundabout in the Ladysmith, but yes there was also several on the open market.
    I never really go into the Arcades myself, unless i need to visit the post office, which for non Ashtoner’s is in the back of WH Smith’s.
    The problem with the Arcades and Ashton in general is there’s too many ‘window shoppers’. I would much rather shop in Manchester as i find it much easier to find what you need, and Aldi and the Arndale Market are a godsend.



  4. Thanks for pointing out the story of the roundabout, FelixFind.

    I totally agree with you on the difference between shopping in Ashton and in Manchester. The only time I ever go to Ashton it is usually for: the bus station; Sorrento’s Café; Wetherspoons; The Beau Geste; Prince of Orange; and the model shop on Market Avenue. Clothing wise, Ashton has become a non-starter. It is either the nearest TESCO store, or the centre of Manchester (for anything I cannot find in the former establishment).

    The last time I used a Post Office, was the one in Altrincham (also within a WHSmith store). It took me almost as long to draw a picture of a stamp as it did to purchase one – and there was only one in front of me in the queue! I prefer to go to my nearest sub-Post Office a short walk from home: the service is more personalised and friendlier. Other than that, it’s the Crown Post Office on Brown Street, Manchester.

    Bye for now,



  5. edrie says:

    One of the greatest and saddening disasters to hit Ashton was the demolition of The Spread Eagle Hotel.
    To build a Lidl store on the site was ironic……………..


  6. Julie Cooper says:

    Ironic wasnt quite the word that sprang to mind – tragic, brought a lump to my throat every time I shopped there …. is it still there then?


  7. Hiyas all round to Julie and Edrie,

    Yes, the Lidl store is still there, and I can imagine why it brings a lump in the throat to some Ashtonians. This I think is probably down to the fact that two key Ashton landmarks (The Spread Eagle and Arcadia store) were demolished with almost indecent haste. Imagine the furore if a new Waitrose in identikit hover unit style was built in Knightsbridge to compensate for a demolished Harrods store? (It’s highly unlikely this would happen in reality, but it’s a similar allegory)

    I only ever remember seeing the Spread Eagle through visiting Arcadia or passing it on the 340. By the time I was able to drink legally, I still never popped in for a pint in what would have turned out to be its twilight years.

    Bye for now,


    P.S.: The Spread Eagle (for the benefit of readers new to this blog or unfamiliar with Ashton-under-Lyne) were among a clutch of pubs on the western end of Stamford Street and Old Street, which included The Witchwood, Red Lion, King William IV and The Friendship. Only The Witchwood remains open. The Friendship has been closed for several years though remains in situ; the rest, long demolished with the Tameside and Glossop NHS Foundation Trust offices occupying the site of The King William IV and the Red Lion.


  8. Kev says:

    Saturdays would consist of :- A trip to The Odeon for the ” Super Saturday Show”, off to Gleaves for a bag of broken biscuits, then to Dougies joke shop for stink bombs and pea shooters with which we would pepper the hapless shoppers below from the second tier of the precinct and then onto The Coffee Pot for a plate of chips and a cup of tea served in clear cups and saucers. I also remember getting my football kits and boots from a sports shop called Schofields, there was another sports shop further up towards the old baths but for the life of me I can`t remember what it was called.


    1. Hi Kevin,

      I cannot help you with the sports shop nearest to the old baths, but I can happily recall the 1970s – 1980s Koffee Pot in what is now known as the Ladysmith Shopping Centre. It was dimly/subtly lit with glass cylindrical light shades in different colours and black rexine diner/booth style seating. Access to the kitchen was marked by a multicoloured strip curtain.

      I used to call in there on Wednesdays and Thursdays with my late Nana (and sometimes with my Dad around 1988). It used to be about 55p for tea and toast, and the toast was always thick and buttered very well. A friend of mine used to refer to the balconies on Staveleigh Way as the ‘gobbing aisles’!

      For slightly more recent memories on the Koffee Pot, you might like an article I wrote in 2007 about its closure, entitled ‘…Two Full Monty Breakfasts!’ (

      Bye for now,



      1. Julie Cooper says:

        My first Saturday job when I was 14 was at the Koffee Pot, circa 1979, my Auntie Alice got me the job, she was the old lady that worked there forever, collecting the dirty dishes from the tables with her trolley, happy days, I loved the chips and gravy from there, every saturday on my lunch break.


      2. Kev says:

        I lied! you`ve just brought it back to me Mancunian! it was tea and toast we used to have in there, not chips. It was also clearly a magnet for the glitterati of the day as well…..we once saw Roger De Courcey in there! ( sans Nookie).

        That`s where we first met Julie wasn`t it.


    2. Linzi says:

      the sports shop near to the old ashton baths was called Bowers, they sold everything anyone ever wanted for sports, and also Toys at Christmas, sledges, skates, darts dartboards, football kits boots everything, ceiling to floor drawers containing anything you could think of, they even repaired caseballs, my dad used to run a football team and he always bought his kits from here, the manageress was called Renie Cole, they were in direct competition with schofields, but they also sold handbags suitcases, school bags and all kinds of fancy goods, it was a fabulous shop and a shame it didnt move with the times and transfer up to the “New Precinct” that the owners were convinced would never take off….


  9. I could understand why Roger de Courcey called in to the Koffee Pot: it was handy for the stage door of Tameside Theatre. (So long as he left Boots via the back entrance.) The toast always went down a storm at the Koffee Pot, so one wonders how many toastie loaves they used in 40 years!


  10. Kev says:

    The sports shop who`s name I can`t remember was different to Schofields in that, it seemed to deal more with fishing and darts, it also made trophies and had lots of various sports trophies in the window.


    1. If I remember rightly, wasn’t the shop situated close to Chester Square at the most westerly point of Stamford Street? There was also another sports trophies shop on Stamford Arcade: could it have been the same people?


  11. Kev says:

    Yep, it later became an Aquarium, the guy who ran it made his own Fish tanks and sold Tropical fish etc.


  12. stuart j says:

    the sport shop was called Bowers


  13. Diane Thornton says:

    did the Kofee Pot become the wooden spoon?


    1. Hi Diane,

      The Koffee Pot and The Wooden Spoon were two different businesses. The former had units on Staveleigh Way (by the escalator, before moving to the Lancastrian Tandoori unit) and Market Avenue/Stamford Street. As for The Wooden Spoon, it occupied a former Co-op store on Warrington Street (Tameside MBC Council Offices occupy site) before moving to the bus station concourse in the early 1980s.

      Bye for now,




    As someone who as lived all his 65 years in Ashton all these comments bring back many memorys,you think that when you
    are growing up as a child and a teenager nothing will ever change.with the passing of time you realize nearly everthing changes,in my case all my schools have gone ie RED SCHOOL,BLACK SCHOOL on queens rd.and stamford school on Mossley rd ,all thats left are memorys ,


    1. Ever so true, Keith.

      I have now reached the age when at least one of the schools you went to have closed down (in my case, the Ewing School in West Didsbury). Hard to imagine how 15 years ago that the Ladysmith Centre appeared to be on its last legs, only to find a mainly white and blue revamp arriving five years later. It also hits home to you when you look at the old newspapers on the microfilm in Ashton Central Library: all these lost shops, pubs, relatives and so on.

      Bye for now,



  15. Lee Hulme says:

    Why has nobody mentioned “Wheelz”, at least I think that was how they spelt it. Facing the Odeon (now occupied by the Job Centre). Saturdays were great in Ashton 🙂 . Does anybody remember the name of the shop on the upper floor of Staveleigh Way, above the square, that sold Holographic pictures? I have often thought about my formative years in Ashton, and thoughts of that shop always return. Also, M&S!! lol. I had a friend who’s family were not well off, and on a saturday he would go down the M&S stairs from the upper floor and steal a sandwich from the fridge at the bottom of the stairs for his lunch, then run back up the stairs and away. That was, of course, when it only cost us 6p on the 346 to Ashton, and bus tickets were little yellow paper squares sold to you by a clippie on the upper floor!!! lol


    1. Hi Lee,

      There was two Wheels/Wheelz in Ashton-under-Lyne. The latter was spelt with a ‘Z’ and occupied Gleave’s biscuit factory. The latter which you are referring to was behind the Empire/Tameside Theatre/Tameside Hippodrome. Prior to becoming Wheels, it was the Ashton Palais, a popular nightspot with live acts during the 1960s. Its original name was the Ashton Palais de Dance, opening around the 1920s – 1930s as a dance hall.

      The shop which sold holographic pictures came by the rather prosaic name of the ‘Hologram Gallery’. It was next to Manprice and close to the stairs on the side of the Koffee Pot. I too remember the first floor stairs to Marks and Spencer, so I wonder if pilfering put paid to the continuance of that entrance, as well as the precinct’s 1998 refurbishment.

      6p on the 346: that would be the 1977 concessionary fare for passengers 4 – 16 years of age and pensioners. I remember when it was 10p, in 1985, and 12p in May 1986. The conductors at the time would have been wearing the Almex ticket machines, standard on GMT and GM Buses till 1989, when the Wayfarer 2 was introduced.

      Bye for now,


      P.S. Scanning the microfilm archives at Ashton Central Library, I was happy to find out the name of a boutique on Mercian Way which I remember passing in my toddling years. The name escaped me till now: it was ‘Untouchables’, about two doors down from Woolworths.


    2. Paula says:

      I lived in Wheelz and had my own boots. It was the place to be went there all the time. The DJ booth was over the bar where you would buy your slushies from and I was always so nervous if I would be asked by a boy to do the couples round and actually hold a boys hand. The speed round they used to do used to crack me up where you would always get the bigger lads showing off and ponsing around in the middle.
      Loved the dark red velvet outer rind where the see pats were on the edge of the barriers. Had some great memories in there when I was around. 11.
      Paula. Born ’68.


  16. jenny roberts says:

    I used to shop in ‘Margie’ om the upper floor of Staveleigh way. It was a boutique type shop, not large but had great fashion at cheap prices. We also went in Hitchens a lot (ex catalogue goods) I also loved the Arcadia store, so many different things under one roof.


    1. Hi Jenny,

      ‘Margie’ ring any bells to me, but Hitchens and Arcadia certainly do. In the former, I remember seeing Nightshade from ‘Gladiators’ (1992-93). She was doing pantomime at the Tameside Hippodrome, but only Dad and I knew who she was.

      I would love to see the old Co-op department stores back in our neck of the woods including Arcadia (though there’s absolutely no chance). Till the start of the 21st century, I used to enjoy visiting Stockport’s on the Merseyway precinct and others around Greater Manchester. They made for a more relaxed shopping environment lacking in today’s stores (I also miss Sheffield’s Castle Street Co-op store for similar reasons).

      Bye for now,



  17. Darren Jones says:

    I used to love visiting the Wooden Spoon when out in Ashton with my grandmother. Originally I remember it occupying a two story site where downstairs was a chippy and upstairs a cafe. The food was excellent – all home made. Later I recall the chippy being in the bus station and as busy as ever. Sad that this business is no longer around.


    1. Hi Darren,

      I only remember the one on the side of B and C stands of Ashton bus station, but I enjoyed my only visit there. Today, The Gold Medal is Ashton-under-Lyne’s longest established chippy with dining facilities, but the town still supports a lot of cafés. On George Street, there was also Thompson’s Fish and Chips opposite the Queens Arms. Besides The Gold Medal, the chippy on Booth Street’s also good, but take out only. Hanson’s Café had a chippy next door till they decided to concentrate solely on their café.

      Bye for now,



  18. keith6789 says:

    Kev the sports shop on stamford st was called Schofields


  19. Andrew palmer says:

    Lol I used to goto wheels in the mid to late eighties and met my wife there, they guy who run it was called “Austin and later his grandson Nigel ” and the dj was gladwin there was great times there.
    When we came out of wheels we used to goto the beau jest ( think that’s its name) and have a quick one before getting the 236 to mottram home .
    I also drove the busses in ashton starting with the little gems A1 if any one remembers them and I between woolworths and the wooden spoon was the canteen that the drivers used.
    In the bus station A stand was the Manchester which was always packed regardless of the time of day and when it rained that part of the bus stands was choc a block itch people some wanting a bus and others just keeping out of the rain.


    1. Hi Andrew,

      The Beau Geste, still pretty much alive and well in spite of the odd ‘For Sale’/’Run This Pub’ sign now and then. Often found it a good place for watching football or food (but, alas, no real ale).

      I remember the A1 Little Gem route. That was the former 337 from Crowhill to Hazelhurst via Ashton bus station. The Crowhill section is largely part of the 41 route, with the Hazelhurst section today’s 38 and 39 routes.

      You’re not kidding about the Manchester ‘A’ stand being busy. ‘C’ stand was too with the 400s stopping there. The A1s, if I remember rightly, used one of the T – W stands, often the preserve of Ashton’s local routes.

      Now, where’s that time machine which happens to be shaped like an Iveco minibus or a Leyland Atlantean?

      Bye for now,



  20. Richard McSherry says:

    Oh yes.Every Saturday morning,the drive from Glossop to Ashton in the back of my Grandpas car with Nanna and Grandpa smoking like chimneys!
    Go up the helter skelter style ramp into the NCP multi storey car park begging Grandpa to park on the very top which he never did.

    A good hour shopping in Marks n Sparks with nausea and headache before,piling the shopping into St Michael carrier bags with a little green chef on with green check trousers.
    Then onto The Koffee Pot with Grandpa for two rounds of toast before finally visiting Gleaves for a bag of
    broken biscuits
    .Then the dreaded drive back to Glossop for more nicotine filled fun.
    Does anyone remember what the shoe shop was called opposite Boots?
    I’m thinking it was a Timpsons but not sure?


    1. Hi Richard,

      Reading your comment gave me a glorious image of 1970s – 1980s Ashton from the back of a Ford Cortina or a Hillman Avenger. I could almost smell the Silk Cut in the air, one which would linger in the upstairs Koffee Pot.

      No doubt you would have entered Marks and Spencer from the first floor entrance after negotiating the stairs from the car park. I do remember the old St. Michael carrier bags and familiar with the chef on its packaging.

      The shoe shop opposite Boots was a Timpsons. It was on two floors with the ground floor key cutting shop sandwiched between the shoe shop and Marks and Spencer.

      Bye for now,



      1. Richard McSherry says:

        Hi Stuart.
        Yes,Timpsons had a circular bench seat upstairs like something out of the Millenium Falcon if i remember correctly?
        A couple of other things have comeback to me-Sylvios cafe on the corner,and Smart Alecs hairdressers opposite the first floor entrance to Marks’s.
        Thanks for putting this together,it’s a great trip down memory lane!


      2. Hi Richard,

        Thank you for your comments. I do remember the outdoor circular bench (brown tiles) overlooking Timpsons, Boots, Norweb and Cardshops, which was at one time a water fountain. It did resemble the Millennium Falcon, but a version of the Millennium Falcon if Ed Wood directed Star Wars instead of George Lucas (it would have been better resembling ELO’s 65 feet diameter flying saucer from their 1978 Wembley Arena concert).

        As for the bench seat in Timpsons, I can vaguely remember it, but not as well as the outdoor one.

        I do remember Silvios, on the corner of Market Avenue and Bow Street. Though it was next to Chris’s Café, we still went to Chris’s Café more than Silvios (the one branch of Silvios I remember calling in more was the one in Oldham which had a first floor café and ground floor bakery counter).

        Bye for now,



  21. Richard McSherry says:

    Stuart,your vivid memory puts mine to shame,I will put it down to my slightly advanced years and love of all things that begin with R and end in eal ale!
    ELO-the mainstay of any 70’s child.
    I’ve read your profile and your musical tastes are impecable-Dance like a star and Half Man Half Buscuit?
    I don’t suppose you’re planning on doing one of these on my hometown of Glossop are you?
    If you are,Here’s a couple to get you started-Henshals toy shop,Pownalls sport shop and the Rose and Crown where Bakers soliciters is now.


    1. Hello again Richard,

      I too have a penchant for the real ales, but unfortunately, my memories of Glossop tend to be around the late 1990s onwards (and often around The Star Inn or the Duke of Norfolk). Elsewhere on East of the M60, I have written a similar article on Oldham in the 1980s which you might enjoy.

      I do know for sure that the RSPCA and Costa Coffee shops are on the site of Glossop’s previous Co-op store (before they moved to part of the railway station along with the Post Office). The Post Office used to be near the town hall and indoor market (its move also prompted a report by the legendary Bob Smithies over the inconvenience of its present location). The TESCO store, I remember was purpose built for Hillards, opening in 1986. I also remember Finlay McKinley’s chemist, a lovely old fashioned shop mercilessly replaced by a bookmakers.

      If you’ve read my Full Fat/Old School/Self Coded website (click the ‘My Website’ link), you will wonder how this fellow’s memory and the like came about.

      Bye for now,



  22. Richard McSherry says:

    Hi Stuart.
    Sorry to drag you into a blog on 80s Glossop,but you seem quite knowlegeble on the area.
    Yes,Tesco was previously Hillards,my mate and i used to spend our youth hanging around the building site during construction of the store.
    Finlay McKinlays was a real blast from the past-and they used to sell homebrew kits for the discerning homebrewer.It later passed to Cohens chemist which recently moved to the Manor inn on High St East.I have many happy .memories of the old Co Op as i used to buy all my Star Wars figures from the toy store in the basement.
    MacKinlays old shop is curently un-occupied,and the old co-op basement is a pool hall/bar..
    On the upside,a Wetherspoons is opening on the old LuxLux site where my nanna used to work in the factory shop.
    Happy days!


    1. Laszlo fyre says:

      Wooden Spoon! The only food/drink emporium I know of that did not suffer from re-location. Loved it from the 60’s until its demise. R.I.P.
      The toy and sports goods shop in one of the avaenues, that had a model railway in the window, that you could make run by putting a penny in the outdoors facing slot, 24/7.
      In the season, they had a mouth watering array of Standard fireworks- including the largest lot of high price single item ‘specials’ regularly sen anywhere. (cue: formation of ‘Campaign for Real fireworks’!!). Nadins- superb, of its day, and fitting in perfectly with the rest of the indoor marke, which essentially remained the same for me until I left the area in the mid 80’s. My wife used to roller skate @ wheels in the 70’s. Prior to that, I belive it was a nite club, ‘the Bird Cage’,, or was that later? All good stuff, and, like the man-powered roundabuts on the market, gone for ever……..


      1. Hi Laszlo,

        The Wooden Spoon, I only went once and that was when it used to have a unit in the bus station. It was a memorable visit no less.

        I miss Nadins, and the pre-fire ravaged Indoor Market. I loved the idiosyncratic layout compared with the present more airy yet faceless look. Nadins always appeared the same to me well to the end, as it was in the 1980s.

        Wheels was definitely the Birdcage nightclub before then, and the Palais prior to then. After demolition, a fairly modern garage took its place before becoming the Atomic night club and Blue Sea restaurant. It has now been taken over by the Friends of Tameside Hippodrome who intend to turn it into a restaurant and small studio theatre as one phase in reopening the Tameside Hippodrome.

        Bye for now, and a Merry Christmas to you and your family,



  23. Paula says:

    Hi there anyone remember the Golden Disc record shop. It was ultra cool with Booths with western style wooden swing doors so you could choose a record and the guy would send you to a booth so you could listen to it before you bought. I think it was really popular with the northern soul scene as my brother and sister are 10 years older than me and used to live in there, I only remember the tale end of it.
    My mum used to take me to an old pharmacy past the shu bar every satuday. I wish I knew what it was called but it was a Victorian timeworp I used to have a blood tonic or a sasparella then a piece of licorice root on exit. Wonderful!
    I also frequented the market drink stall where my mum would drink birds coffee and smoke a cigarette whilst I had the best banana milk shake money could buy.
    Paula from the Moss.


  24. Susan davey says:

    Does anyone remember Wharf Mill which used to stand where Asda is now . It was a furniture store over many floors with carpets on the ground floor and a supermarket . I worked in the cafe aged 16 on a Saturday until I was 18 . Happy memories !


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