Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside, December 2019: The Ashton Review of Shops

This month’s window on the shop windows

  • Small Business Saturday;
  • Christmas cheer across the borough;
  • Plus all the usual retail movements from the Half Way House to The Dysarts Arms.

A certain singer would have said at this point of the year “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” This year, due to a General Election falling on this month, isn’t your normal run-up to The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Small Business Saturday

Shortly after the hullabaloo of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another important fixture in the retail calendar: Small Business Saturday. Now a regular fixture on the first Saturday in December, this day celebrates small businesses across the UK.

Tameside has a number of ‘Local Heroes’, some of which are long established businesses, whereas some are more recent additions. From micro pubs to muffin stalls, our borough has a lot to offer.

Our Local Retail Heroes

Instead of listing a few shops by town, we have decided to do things differently. This time, we are listing a random selection of items that can be purchased by independent retailers in Tameside.

35mm camera film: if you still prefer analogue to digital photography, there are very few options on the High Street. Boots is trying to get rid of it altogether, whereas Max Spielman sells only one brand. The best place in Tameside is Hyde Camera Centre on 80 Market Street, Hyde. They have a wide range of colour and black and white film, which is great for getting your trusty Olympus OM-1 out of retirement.

Hair accessories: there is only one obvious choice in the borough: Magpie’s Nest on Armentieres Square, Stalybridge. The award-winning retailer has plenty of posh accessories at realistic prices.

Oven bottom muffins: in Tameside, the home of the Oven Bottom Muffin, you are spoiled for choice for potential outlets. The finest oven bottom muffins can be purchased from Mellor’s Bakery on 87 Stocks Lane, Stalybridge (348 bus stops outside the bakery).

Greetings Cards: who needs Card Factory or Clintons when you’ve got Cards Galore in Ashton Indoor Market? For several years, surviving the 2004 fire, it has been the go-to place for greetings cards for many shoppers. We also like John’s Cards on 15 Melbourne Street, Stalybridge.

Lightbulbs: whether you are looking for the very last stocks of incandescent light bulbs or energy-saving LED bulbs, the brightest sparks go to E. Taylor and Son’s electrical shop on 27 Melbourne Street, Stalybridge. Established in 1920, it is one of Stalybridge’s oldest shops.

Pork pies: there are three places that we fully recommend for the procurement of porcine pastry products, and all three of them are in Ashton-under-Lyne. First up is Bradley’s Bakery on 225 Kings Road, Hurst, which offer a plethora of pork pies among other edibles. The next two are situated in Ashton Indoor Market with Pearson’s Butchers and Traditional Foods topping the tree.

Cake decorations: for cake lovers, no trip to Ashton-under-Lyne is complete without calling in to Wm Walton and Sons on 152 Stamford Street Central. It is also the oldest shop in Ashton-under-Lyne, having been in business since 1832.

A Traditional English Breakfast: we could have chosen any of the usual haunts in Ashton, Hyde or Stalybridge. Instead, we have chosen L’s Kitchen on Concord Way, Dukinfield. If you are popping in to the library, dentist or doctors’ surgery on Concord Way, you could call in here for a bit of Dutch Courage (i.e.: a mug of coffee) or a good breakfast. Other healthier options are also available, and I personally recommend the messy yet tasty Chicken Tikka Salad barm. Oh, and you park free of charge or catch the 346 bus to Ashton or Hyde.

Christmas comes to Tameside

This year, Stalybridge led the borough’s Christmas celebrations. The town took centre stage on the 16 November with its Lantern Parade, Artisan Market and side shows. From 10am to 7pm, Stalybridge was at its liveliest and vibrant self.

On St. Andrew’s Day [30 November], Christmas cheer came to Ashton-under-Lyne with the town’s lights switch-on. There was also a Frozen themed ice rink, with Ashton Indoor Market open till 7pm.

TAC Tales

Right now, the northern approach of Warrington Street (between Tameside One and the Arcades Shopping Centre) has been attractively landscaped. Between the side entrances of Wilko and WHSmith’s bus station kiosk, a manicured raised bed with a concrete perimeter wall and young trees has been added.

The access road into the forthcoming Ashton-under-Lyne Transport Interchange is coming on nicely, as is the new paving by Sandwich Pound. By the time you have read this, ‘H’ stand of the 1994 Bus Station will have been demolished.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

Polite Note: for reasons of brevity, any pub and club applications come under the Pub and Club Update section. Luvvly Jubbly…

Not a lot going on. Still, I suppose that’s because Christmas is around the corner.

  • On 110 Blandford Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Your Local Store could be no more. Plans have been put in for the deshopification of the premises – by means of its conversion to two self-contained flats.
  • The Village Stores and Newsagents premises on 280 Stockport Road, Gee Cross (next to the former Post Office) could be converted into a restaurant or café.
  • Plans have been submitted for the conversion of 179 Stamford Street Central (former NatWest bank) into a mixed-use development with commercial space at ground level and apartments above. In the last two years, some work has been made towards its eventual conversion.
  • Deshopification is proposed for 47 Wood Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, with the conversion of a ground floor retail unit to a one bedroom dwelling.
  • More of the same is proposed for 4 Back Lane, Mottram-in-Longdendale, where a chippy will be converted into a two bedroom house.
  • Plans have been put in for individual stainless steel lettering in Denton, depicting the building name ‘TAMESIDE WELLNESS CENTRE – DENTON’. The new leisure centre is due to open in Spring 2020.

Retail Movements

Pretty fluid, though with more ‘comings’ instead of ‘goings’.

  • Henos Fried Chicken on Stamford Road, Mossley, which we said “has finally opened” last month has closed.
  • Greggs’ new unit on Warrington Street, Ashton-under-Lyne has now opened. In comparison with its unit in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre (inherited from the acquisition of Price’s chain in 1976), the new unit in the Arcades Shopping Centre has more space for seating, indoors and outdoors.
  • In the last month, we have found that Be Creative on Corporation Street, Stalybridge has closed. For affordable stationery alternatives to TESCO, this leaves the Pound Buster Store and Yu and Me as viable options. Art equipment can also be purchased in The People’s Gallery on Melbourne Street.
  • Within a month on from The Bread Basket’s closure on Cheetham Hill Road, Dukinfield, William Hill bookmakers has closed, with the Melbourne Street branch being billed as a suitable alternative (ahead of the one on King Street/Astley Street junction). Who would take on the two empty units?
  • New to Stalybridge on Market Street is Reiki and Retail, a delightful little shop that offers retail therapy and holistic treatments in their Serenity Room. If you prefer retail therapy, toys, gifts and children’s clothes is their raison d’etre. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am to 4pm.
  • Coming soon to Ashton-under-Lyne will be Paradise on a Plate, an exciting new eatery for Ashton Indoor Market.
  • Under new ownership, Avenue 18 on Market Avenue has had a bit of a refresh: this time with its ground floor seating area being billed as Eclectic Avenue.
  • After six years of being empty, the former NatWest Bank on King Street, Dukinfield could become a takeaway. The bank manager’s dwelling, accessible from Chapel Street, will also be living quarters for the proprietor. As soon as we find out, all will be revealed in a future Ashton Review of Shops.

Pub and club update

The Gillery on Stamford Road, Mossley has now opened, occupying the former Royal Bank of Scotland building on the corner of Old Brow. Its position beside the railway station would provide a more-than-useful waiting room for Mossley folk, who haven’t seen a punctual or reliable train since the infamous May 2018 timetable changes came into effect.

The Jam Works, occupying another former Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Droylsden has now opened. Over in Dukinfield, The Forester will be closing on the 21 January 2020. This time for an exquisite £500,000 refurbishment, which could see a Top Astley style refresh. During the mid-1990s, it was popular with families who came over for Sunday dinners. Would Star Pubs’ refurbishment work out?

The Brit Stop (which some of us old timers will remember as The Friendship Inn) on Corporation Street, Stalybridge could become a food-led public house – changing from an A4 licence to an AA licence. Proposed changes will see the addition of a new bar, with a kitchen in the old bar area. If the owners could show off the green tiles from the Gartside Brewery era, that too would be as welcome as its reopening.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 04 January 2020 at the usual time of 9am. We wish all our readers, old and new a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you have yet to sort out your Christmas presents, try to keep it local and support your independent retailers. Till then, ta-ta for now.

S.V., 07 December 2019.

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