A look back towards the Cheshire town’s transitionary period
The 1980s and 1990s were a transitionary, though sometimes non too pleasant period for Hyde. At the beginning of the 1980s, it was along with the rest of Tameside affected by the high unemployment of Thatcher’s term in office. By the end of the nineties, it more or less ended the same way as it was in 1980: this time by the loss of its manufacturing industry. Senior Service moved to Northern Ireland from Hyde mill; Vymura’s plant was subdivided into industrial units; Davies and Metcalfe, after moving to Dukinfield Road from Romiley closed. It was this grim fag end of that decade which would see a change to Hyde’s centre, and one which is still apparent today with the loss of high value retailers in favour of discount stores.
Even so, Hyde remains Tameside’s second largest shopping centre, servicing a great many residents from Gee Cross, Newton, Hattersley and Godley. It is also a secondary regional centre well used by persons beyond the former Hyde Borough boundaries such as Denton, Dukinfield, Stockport and Glossop. In happier times, it wasn’t far from becoming Tameside’s ‘must visit’ shopping centre (till the opening of The Arcades in summer 1995 saw to that in Ashton), getting some of the chain stores before Ashton did.
Today’s walk through Hyde will take us somewhere 1980 and 1999, with reference to the lost stalls and shops along the way. ClipperCards at the ready…
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The 1978 opening of the Hyde Bypass (known along with its Denton extension as the M67) necessitated remodelling of Hyde Bus Station, from its original SHMD layout of 1960. By 1980, this meant the discontinuation of public toilets and Queensbury Shelters specification shelters. Westbound stands A to D covered Manchester bound buses and the 343/344 routes into Mossley and Oldham. Stand B was used by National Express and excursion coaches.
The bulk of the stands were eastbound. A separate shelter with two stands was used for the 330 and 389 routes to Stockport and Marple. The rest of the stands were mounted on a brick wall, and were narrower and darker than the others, due to the brown brick used to screen the bus station from the motorway.
Main Manchester buses of the 1980s were the 125 and 215 from Glossop, the 211 from Hattersley and the 210 from Gee Cross, which at one point continued to Marple. By the 1990s, the Manchester routes operated by GM Buses faced competition from MTL Manchester, a subsidiary (owned by ex-Merseybus employees) set up to compete with Greater Manchester’s buses.
By deregulation, Stuart’s Bus and Coach also competed with GM Buses in Hyde and introduced new routes from Newton to Manchester. The Bee Line Buzz Company introduced its high frequency minibuses along Yew Tree Lane, Dukinfield and Gee Cross. Pennine Blue would compete with GM Buses on the 346 route, and outlived them as a subsidiary of FirstBus by the end of the 1990s. Glossopdale Bus Company, and Tame Valley Motor Services, would take over some subsidised routes during the early 1990s, with the evening 343 journeys among them.
Whereas the Hydonian bus scene was most interesting, the rail scene was equally so. August 1981 saw the closure of the Woodhead Line, but its old 1,500V d.c system remained in use up to Hadfield and Glossop till the 11 December 1984. Prior to then, Class 506 EMUs offered a half hourly service till the line was reenergised to the 25kV a.c. system. Passengers alighting at Newton or Godley Junction would see their older trains replaced by marginally younger Class 303s cascaded from Glasgow. By the end of the 1980s, they were replaced by slam-door Class 304s and Class 305s.
1985 saw the opening of Flowery Field railway station on Bennett Street, with Godley’s new station on Mottram Road coming the following year. Both improved links with Hyde town centre with a short walk or bus ride from any of these points. Godley Junction – now bereft of its junction status, following the closure of the Apethorn – Godley branch line – became Godley East, and offered a limited peak hours service till closure in May 1995.
1997 saw the introduction of Class 323 EMUs, which remain in service today. Since 1999, a Sunday service has since been added to the Hadfield line.
By contrast, Hyde’s other line has seen little change since the 1980s, besides new waiting shelters. Between 1980 and 1999, Class 101 DMUs were the norm on the Manchester Piccadilly to Rose Hill Marple. As a temporary measure, there was an experiment to add Hadfield and Glossop services to Hyde North, by means of a wooden platform accessed from the northern part of Johnson Brook Road. Instead, the new station at Flowery Field was chosen over that solution.
Hyde Central, the town’s nearest station, along with the one formerly known as Hyde Junction, had long since been destaffed with most of its building demolished. The exception was a commodious canopy on the Manchester platform.
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Shopping in Hyde
We’ve got off our bus and stamped our ClipperCard, or showed the conductor our ticket. Depending on where we alight, the Red Lion, Fine Fare or Astoria Bingo Hall is directly ahead of us. As yours truly has alighted from his 346 outside the Astoria, he elects to go to…
The SuperMarket: even now, as was the case in our chosen era, this was often referred to as The Hippodrome owing to its previous use. The SuperMarket opened in this guise in the 1960s with a grand celebrity opening featuring Freddie Garrity and Morecambe and Wise. On two floors, it offered indoor market style shopping with food and hardware stalls. The food stalls and a florist was situated on the ground floor, whereas a lift or a large staircase would take us up to the non-food stalls, a newsagent and a café. Before becoming Thackeray’s bookstall, the front first floor unit hosted bingo sessions. There was also a good record shop.
Its entrance was dominated by the staircase on the left hand side, and on the right hand, a coin-operated weighing machine and two arcade machines (one of which was ‘Shinobi’). Today, the upstairs bit no longer sees retail use, with Quality Save occupying the former SuperMarket. The sign of its last use remains intact.
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The Mall/Clarendon Square Shopping Centre:
Since the late 1960s, The Mall has formed part of many a Hydonian’s shopping habits. 1980 saw The Mall as the archetypal 1960s pedestrianised precinct with windy approaches. By 1999, it had changed dramatically to become an air conditioned fully enclosed shopping centre.
Prior to 1990, outdoor market stalls straddled its windy approaches with overhangs on each side of the shop units. From Market Street, this continued towards a square with more outdoor market stalls, dominated by an escalator leading to the first floor of its TESCO store. Turning left saw the continuation of The Mall towards Clarendon Place. The market ground was a public piazza of mainly concrete nature, interrupted by benches and a fountain with a handful of stalls, and the former SHMD bus shelter.
By 1991, its windy approaches were no more as owners MEPC brought it to the 1990s with the introduction of covered sections. By 1993, the precinct was fully covered with the square section glazed and given new units. More outdoor market stalls were moved to their present position on Market Street. Starter units were erected for traders who preferred something more than an outdoor stall, though with less of the overheads a standard shop unit would incur.
The Mall’s refurbishment and transition to becoming the Clarendon Square Shopping Centre reinvigorated Hyde, though that would be short lived as events in the latter part of the 1990s would demonstrate.
Supakids: occupied two floors facing Market Street, one of two shops whose other shop was on The Birtles Centre, Wythenshawe.
John Menzies/WHSmith: before Ashton-under-Lyne, Hyde had their branch some two years before The Arcades opened. It was on two floors with the music section on the first floor. Now split into two units, one of which including a Sue Ryder Charity Shop.
Shoe Express: again, opened in 1993 before Ashton’s branch did. Now a discount shop which still has their carpet.
Tandy: near the Market Street exit, this occupied a double unit and was Tameside’s only branch till 1995.
Quality Save: Hyde’s original Quality Save was a claustrophobic unit, now occupied by a charity shop.
Cookshops: in the old open square section of The Mall was a cookery shop which offered a great line in humorous oven gloves.
Gateway Foodmarkets: at one time, Hyde had a Gateway and a Fine Fare. It survived the refurbishment and traded till around 1993.
Stationery Box: discount stationers, popular among schoolchildren. Closed 2009.
Silvio’s: bakery with popular café. Opened till around 2007.
TESCO: Hyde’s branch, prior to the end of the 1980s had an escalator leading up to the Home and Wear section. For most of our era, it was a single floor unit which would, today, be big enough for a TESCO Express store. It is now the popular B&M Bargains shop.
Hyde Music Centre: whereas the record shop in SuperMarket offered a more varied selection, this one was better for chart releases. Greenhalgh’s Bakery monopolises this unit.
North West Gas Showrooms: had a distinctive circular window. Closed 1998 before becoming a charity shop, and a branch of Gamestation which (at this time of writing has closed).
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DeeJay’s Discount: during the fag end of the 1990s, a new shop selling short coded food opened in a former branch of the TSB next to The Queens pub. It was one of three of their shops with the other two branches being in Ashton-under-Lyne and Glossop.
‘Gift Shop’: popular in the early 1990s was a commodious two floor gift shop. It sold all sorts of fancy goods and cards, though most of it was beyond my levels of affordability. Since 1999, it became The Cotton Bale, a J.D. Wetherspoon public house.
Woolworths: Hyde’s branch of Woolworths closed in January 2009, one week after Ashton’s store. In the 1980s and 1990s it was a ‘must visit’ shop for lovers of music chart acts. It is now Hyde’s second branch of Poundstretcher.
Curly’s Market Shop: still a greengrocery today trading as The Strawberry Garden, Curly’s Market Shop was hitherto Hyde’s branch of the Halifax Building Society. This was the then building society’s second premises between 1980 and 1999; its other premises were on the corner of Market Street and the bus station’s westerly access road.
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Most of the high class multiple retailers and non-food shops monopolised Market Street. This remained so till the mid 1990s when electrical retailers favoured out of town locations.
The Co-op: on the corner of Greenfield Street, the town’s flagship Co-op store had a popular furniture and electrical goods section on the first floor, with the food hall on the ground floor level. Closure in 1993 saw the store become a Kwik Save (moving from premises on the opposite end of Market Street opposite Barclays Bank). It remained that way up to the chain’s bankruptcy in 2008 before becoming a Wilkinson store.
Greenwoods: gentlemen’s outfitters opposite The Clarendon (today’s Last Orders’ inn).
Granada: also on the same row next to Greenwoods, this moved into the Visionhire unit overlooking the open market.
Rumbelows: opposite Granada, now today’s Cash Generator store. Closed in 1995 before becoming Cash Generator by 2001.
Dean and Noble: closed in 2010, the long established store sold electrical goods since the 1930s.
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Since the mid 1960s, Hyde’s indoor market has been housed in The Mall. During the 1980s and 1990s, it was popular among locals and casual visitors. All the food stalls were seen on the first floor with some at ground level. Non-food was at basement level. Today, this remains more or less the same though with more non-food stalls also seen at second floor level and the addition of a café at the basement.
As detailed elsewhere, outdoor stalls straddled the pedestrian precinct and the square section near TESCO. Prior to The Mall’s opening, most of them overlooked Market Street and the Town Hall. By the 1990s, the fountain was removed with extra stalls taking its place.
Bob’s Books: a good second hand book stall at basement level.
Jefferson’s: delicatessen with two stalls on the first floor.
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Fine Fare/Gateway/Food Giant/Kwik Save/Morrisons:
In 1976, a hulking hypermarket was opened by Derek Nimmo. At the start of the 1980s, it became the superstore to visit for car using shoppers, with extensive car parking and a petrol filling station with car wash. For Tameside it seemed revolutionary, though the end of the 1990s saw big supermarkets as much a part of the landscape as its mills once did.
The Fine Fare store occupied the whole of its building till 1981 when it was split in two to include its ‘Fix and Fit’ showroom on one half, and the Fine Fare store itself. The former became ‘Do It All’ and subsequently Focus Do It All.
Between 1980 and 1999, it had been known as ‘Gateway’ from 1988, before becoming ‘Food Giant’ in 1990. Somerfield, who owned the Gateway chain near the end of the 1990s took over Kwik Save in 1998, and turned Food Giant into Kwik Save – Hyde’s second branch. This remained so till Morrisons took over the store in 2007.
Throughout its life, it also had an instore café and petrol station. Recent changes under Morrisons has seen the former Do It All unit become part of the Morrisons store itself, with further car parking space added.
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Food and Drink:
And after all that shopping, a brew may be in order…
A most popular haunt among 1980s – 1990s shoppers was the first floor café in the SuperMarket. Its main meals were home made and priced affordably, with their stew and dumplings a speciality. The Fine Fare café was a popular haunt too. For chips, Bosuns on Clarendon Street served a similar purpose as of now as has the Oasis on Market Street, popular with the local thespians at the nearby Festival Theatre.
For anyone preferring a drop of something stronger, The White Lion, Albion and Jolly Carter were favoured watering holes as of now. The Clarendon was at one point known as the Beer Engine before reverting to its proper name. The Bike and Hound was known as Carpenters. Gone in more recent times though remembered among 1980s and 1990s drinkers were The Crown, Cheshire Cheese and The Church Inn on Market Street. On Manchester Road, there was also The Red Lion, which changed from Bass to Robinson’s ownership during this period. Also off Market Street on Reynold Street though long gone was The Bricklayers.
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Before we catch the 210 or 346 back home…
Feel free to add your memories of shopping in Hyde between 1980 and 1999. Do you have fond memories of the old Mall, Fine Fare, the Co-op or SuperMarket? Any other forgotten shops and stalls between 1980 and 1999? Give us a shout.
S.V., 30 July 2012.