Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside, April 2020: The Ashton Review of Shops

This month’s quarantined window on the shop windows

This month’s edition of the Ashton Review of Shops will be an unusual one, thanks to the Coronavirus situation which has affected our businesses as well as our shopping habits. Therefore, this edition, and subsequent editions of The Ashton Review of Shops till the end of the near-lockdown period will reflect this.

As a consequence, there may be more references to reduced shopping hours, social distancing, and reduced bus services. Not least our public houses having to seek alternative ways to raise the profile of the local.

Social distancing, Dukinfield style

Over the last fortnight, you would have been aware of the Government’s social distancing and travelling rules. You would have seen how this meant temporary timetable changes to your local bus route. Particularly with services running to a (slightly enhanced) Sunday timetable.

With yours truly being able to work from home in his present job, yours truly still had to nip to the shops for necessary items. Well, within the ‘officially mandated’ hour of outdoor exercise.

Morrisons’ Dukinfield store should be singled out for praise in their battle against COVID-19. They were quick on the mark with applying social distancing markers behind the tills. The store chain has also closed odd checkouts, giving their cashiers in excess of two metres space between tills. If you don’t mind the socially distanced queueing, an afternoon’s errand for your convalescing family members is a relaxed affair. Thankfully, the panic buying has died down.

Over at Concord Way, socially distanced queueing methods have been upheld outside Boots The Chemist (it is still the Davina Chemist to me). On a recent visit, customers stood two metres apart from Dukinfield Library steps to the chemist. To save time, one of the pharmacy staff came out to ask customers if they needed to collect prescriptions.

With Boots wishing to maintain a safe system of working for its pharmacists, the chemist has only admitted two people at any one time. So long as they are two metres apart. Opening hours have been cut to ensure that the shop floor is cleaned to the nth degree. On weekdays, the chemist has closed at 5pm instead of 6pm. It has also closed for lunch from 12 midday to 2pm. On Saturdays, 12 midday instead of 1pm.

The adjacent Bargain Booze, and its attached sub-Post Office (which many older readers will remember as Mundy’s Newsagent) has fitted screens at its non-Post Office tills. Limits have also been set on certain items, particularly bread, milk, and muffins to ensure that nobody panic buys on staple items. With the bijou nature of the branch there is, alas, little scope for social distancing, nor distance markers for the tills.

NHS staff opening hours

With the National Health Service, care workers and the public sector playing a significant part in Tameside’s economy, superstore chains across the UK have allocated special hours for key workers. This is in addition to the special hours for elderly and vulnerable shoppers. (Please note that shoppers will have to show appropriate employee ID cards and/or letter).


At their Stalybridge, Droylsden and Hattersley stores, NHS workers (on production of their NHS Employee Card) can call in at 9am. This being an hour ahead of the usual 10am start.


Over in Morrisonland (well, their Dukinfield, Denton, and Hyde stores to be precise), NHS workers are given priority access from 7.00am to 8.00am on weekdays and Saturdays. This is an hour before the public opening hours which is 8.00am to 8.00pm, Mondays to Saturdays.


At their Ashton-under-Lyne and Denton stores, there is a dedicated half hour window for NHS staff and social care workers. This is between 7.30am and 8.00am on weekdays and Saturdays. Once again, don’t forget your NHS ID card, otherwise you will be turned away.


At their Ashton-under-Lyne and Hyde stores, NHS workers are granted priority access from 8.00am to 9.00am. This is upheld on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Our friends at Albrecht Discount Sud (hello to everyone at their Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge and Hyde stores) have just announced their dedicated shopping hours. Each Sunday, their stores will be open from 9.30am to 10.00am for key workers in the NHS, Police and Fire Service. Once the store opens to the public, these customers will have first dibs at the checkout.


If you are a regular at the Ashton Moss store that works for the emergency services, Tuesdays and Fridays could be a good shopping day for you. On production of your staff pass or other relevant ID (such as a Blue Light Card), you will be given priority access to the store on the first hour of each Tuesday and Friday.

The Food Warehouse

At The Food Warehouse store in Hyde, the first hour of each weekday and Saturday will be allocated to NHS staff. Therefore, from 7.00am, National Health Service workers will be granted exclusive access on production of their ID card.


At their stores in Hyde, Droylsden, and Ashton-under-Lyne, the last hour of trading at each store is allocated to NHS workers (on production of official ID). On weekdays and Saturdays, this is 5.00pm to 6.00pm, and 3.00pm to 4.00pm on Sundays.

BrightHouse in administration

BrightHouse will soon be leaving our High Streets with the chain finally entering administration. On the 30 March 2020, the company appointed Chris Laverty, Trevor O’Sullivan and Helen Dale of Grant Thornton UK LLP as Joint Administrators. If you have an outstanding credit agreement through Caversham Finance (trading as BrightHouse), The Financial Conduct Authority’s page may be a useful source.

...and Debenhams may follow suit too

Though a little outside the Tameside area (in Stockport, Oldham, and Manchester), a more iconic retail name could be leaving us by the end of this year. Debenhams, whose portfolio includes the iconic Rylands Warehouse building in Manchester (from Pauldens) could be filing for bankruptcy. The iconic department store chain was saved a year ago, though this meant the closure of some stores.

Sometimes, superheroes bring milk, vegetables and fresh meat…

With some of our retailers having to close, some purveyors of essential items have offered delivery services. Since the 30 March, 5 A Day has closed (temporarily) as a conventional shop, whilst still offering fresh fruit and vegetables. On Mondays, they also offer deliveries of Longley Farm butter, yoghurt and cream.

How do you work that one out? The shop has become a Collection and Delivery point, so you could place your order for fresh fruit and vegetables. You can collect your items in person or take advantage of their delivery service. If you choose the latter, your goods are sent out on Mondays (except for Easter Monday), Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, give their Facebook page a ‘like’ or email them via 5adaystalybridge[at]

Also on Melbourne Street, our friends at Boult’s Butchers have made regular donations to Sandwich Angels. Any surplus food from their shop is being donated to that cause. The charity helps homeless and hungry people, after its founder, Christina Howard chose to do something about food poverty in Tameside and Manchester.

or they might be on the radio

If you are reading these ramblings whilst in self-isolation, you might have rediscovered your love for ‘proper radio stations’ over streaming. Since the first reports of coronavirus stories reached our shores, our national and local stations have been Coronavirus this, Coronavirus that… here, there and everywhere. At least you can always change stations, if you prefer Gilbert O’Sullivan to James O’Brien.

On BBC Radio Manchester, the Make A Difference slots have been used to relay details of community schemes across Greater Manchester. These have been announced during Becky Want’s, Mike Sweeney’s and Phil Trow’s programmes from 8.00am to 6.00pm (full details of schedules here). On Phil Trow’s programme (2.00pm to 6.00pm, weekdays), there is a Small Business Surgery.

Oh, and in case you have forgotten, BBC Radio Manchester is available online, on DAB and on good old analogue wavelengths (95.1 and 104.6 FM).

TAC Tales

There’s every chance that COVID-19 will scupper the new bus station’s June opening date. Then again, who knows.

Apart from that, Ashton Indoor Market has had special opening times for NHS staff. In the last week, Hyde Market Hall has temporarily closed.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

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

  • A dog grooming parlour on 82 Mottram Road, Hyde, could see deshopification, in its eventual conversion to a two bedroom flat. More of the same is also planned for 86 Mottram Road, two doors away.
  • One room in 9A Buckton Vale Road, Carrbrook, could be used as an office for a taxi service. To reassure anybody thinking that taxis would be parked outside Carrbrook’s Post Office and Spar store, there will be no changes to the surrounding area. Drivers would not have access either.
  • The former Haughton Green Methodist Chapel could be converted into four self-contained apartments. If approved, these plans could include a first floor extension, some alteration work and the addition of off-street car parking spaces.
  • The Hong Sing on 80 Ashton Road, Denton could be a mixed use development with an Accountants’ practice on the ground floor. The first and second floors could be a House in Multiple Occupation.

Retail Movements

Apart from the closure of non-essential shops (and Sunday opening times at the Arcades Shopping Centre seven days a week), nothing to report. As always, feel free to comment.

Pub and club update

This month, we would have announced the reopening of The Forester in its gastropub guise. The new-look pub would have reopened on the 21 March 2020. Instead, that date was the last time you could call in to a pub for a pint in the United Kingdom thanks to that Coronavirus thingy.

Some Pubcos and breweries have offered rent-free holidays with Robinson’s Brewery being one of them. Shortly after closing, our pubs went out of their way to get rid of remaining stocks on an off-licence basis.

The saga of the site of the Moss Tavern continues with a Discharge of Condition proposal. This is in relation to materials, contaminated land, noise assessment, construction management plans, refuse collection details, and drainage. Also in relation to its Crime Impact Statement, lighting and the provision of an Electrical Vehicle Charging Point.

Earlier this month, plans had been filed for the demolition of the Penny Farthing public house in Denton. A revised plan would see eight three-storey dwellings, split into four semi-detached houses.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 02 May 2020 at the usual time of 9am. As always, feel free to elaborate on our observations or add a few more to the mix. You know it makes sense, even in those strangest of times.

S.V., 04 April 2020.

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