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

This month’s semi-quarantined window on the shop windows

It is fair to say that in this edition of the Ashton Review of Shops would be little different to the previous one. Over the last week, these assumptions went out of the window. Especially as some parts of the lockdown have been relaxed.

On reading these notes, there’s every chance you might have been in a queue waiting for a Big Mac. Or caught in the queue to or from work.

Reopening rumbles

Over the last month, some of Tameside’s purveyors of nutritionally incorrect food have slowly but surely began to open their doors. By the time you have read this, our borough’s drive-thru branches of a certain American burger restaurant would have opened their doors. (Though we mean the fairly inexpensive one with the golden arches).

Making most of the headlines in our borough is Ingvar Kamprad’s furniture store chain. The 02 June saw massive queues outside Ashton’s IKEA store. This was repeated across the UK, with the socially distant queue outside Warrington’s store being five miles long. If anything, you would have done ten miles by the time you have reached the checkouts or the hot dog stand.

As for our favourite bakery chain, Greggs’ CEO Roger Whiteside said on its website they aim to reopen all its branches by the 01 July. On the 18 June, 800 shops will reopen, including 150 franchised shops. If you are missing your Greggs sausage roll fix, our borough’s Iceland and The Food Warehouse stores will sate your desires. Failing that, you could also call in to Ashton Market.

Speaking of markets, you would have noticed this week that Ashton-under-Lyne and Hyde market halls have reopened. As you would expect, with all the usual social distancing measures in place.

Some more news on the queues

In the last fortnight, you would have noticed that Morrisons have reviewed their social distancing queueing policy. This time there are two sets of queues. One for customers doing a big shop, and a separate line for customers nipping in for a few bits.

From a user-perspective (well, our personal experience), it has made for quicker entry into the store. Whatever your experience, try to stagger your normal shopping hours if you can.

Busting the queues

Instead of waiting three hours for a burger by multinational concerns, why don’t you take a different route to the norm? From our observations, we have noticed that many of our chippies are in (socially distant) rude health. This has meant customers adhering to the two metre social distancing rules and takeaway owners only letting two or three customers in the shop at any one time.

As well as Hyde Market, where the indoor market has reopened on the 01 June, Ashton Market Hall has been going about its merry way. During the lockdown, stallholders have sold essential items from 9am to 4pm on weekdays and Saturdays. Cafés have offered a takeaway service to ensure the maintenance of social distancing policies.

For non-essential items, many of our shops will be reopening on the 15 June. This will include the market halls in Hyde and Ashton-under-Lyne. On certain days, the towns’ open markets will be reinstated. Among the local retailers that are reopening is Shoe Tree on Grosvenor Street, Stalybridge. Unless we know different, Gino’s Hair and Beauty on Market Street, in the same town, could reopen on the 04 July.

TAC Tales

With Ashton-under-Lyne Bus Station Mark IV, there has been further work on the eastern access road and layover bays. The lamp standards should have been put in place by the time you have read this. So far, everything hinges on the swift completion of that access road.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

With the lockdown still in place, it has been a quiet month.

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

  • Planning permission has been put in for repairs to the beams and masonry of Hartshead Pike tower.
  • A first floor office above Strands on 62 Stockport Road, Denton could be converted into an apartment.
  • Plans have been submitted for two 20m Phase 8 monopole mobile phone masts in Guide Bridge and Droylsden.
  • The bowling green adjacent to 76 Fields Farm Road, Hattersley, could be converted into a children’s playground.
  • Deshopification awaits Westwells Bakery on 17 Peel Street, Droylsden. Plans have been put in for its conversion to a six dwelling House of Multiple Occupation.

Retail Movements

Little to report. In Dukinfield, the former NatWest Bank on King Street is in the midst of conversion to a convenience store. Literally yards apart on the same street, the former newsagents and firework shop next to The Angel Hotel has changed hands. It is now A. White Funeral Directors, a sobering addition given this year’s pandemic.

Pub and club update

Though the pubs have been dry, adaptability has been the key to keeping our licensed premises in the public eye.

The new version of The Rifleman on Market Street, Stalybridge has offered a beer delivery service. Over the last six weeks, Bower Fold Events, (formerly The Bower Club to the old timers) has started sending out Sunday Dinners. You can pay by credit or debit card or your PayPal account, so long as you live in a three mile radius of Bower Fold.

Whereas having a second gastronomic string to your bow may have helped many pubs across the UK in recent times, the idea’s far from new. On Thursdays and Fridays, The Wharf Tavern‘s dripping-based subsidiary has done this for well over 30 years. Ignore The Battered Fryer at your peril if you want stunning fish and chips without being in a three mile queue from the motorway.

In other news, plans have been submitted for the conversion of 49 Manchester Road, Denton into licensed premises. The unit was hitherto the Beautiful Bambinos baby shop. If approved, the new premises could have ample outdoor seating at the back of the unit.

In Droylsden, the licensee of the forthcoming microbar on 1 Queens Walk has submitted plans for the installation of bi-folding glass doors – a la France café style.

Another chapter has been added to the continuing saga of the former Roe Cross Inn on Mottram Road, Matley. Instead of demolishing the pub, plans have been put in for six new houses on the site of its car park.

Over at The Cheshire Cheese in Newton, an application has been submitted by Robinson’s Brewery for the demolition of 167 Ashton Road. Previously a flooring shop, its demolition could allow the brewery to expand its car park or add open air seating whilst remodelling the car park. Perhaps there could be a case for restoring The Cheshire Cheese’s short-lived Whit Friday Band Contest – and Sunday afternoon brass band concerts.

Giving us some more love to our public houses is the brilliant Tameside Pub Guide. Today [06 June] from 2pm is Back Your Boozer, a virtual festival shared over video streaming methods. Its aim is to raise £1,500 for our public houses, to give them some help during and after the lockdown. There will be eight local acts for your enjoyment, each giving you an hour long set on video. Today’s Video Entertainers will be as follows:

  • 2.00 pm: Oliver Vaudrey;
  • 3.00 pm: Kurt M. and Chris B.;
  • 4.00 pm: Xander;
  • 5.00 pm: Keira;
  • 6.00 pm: Hayley Jane;
  • 7.00 pm: Presence;
  • 8.00 pm: Macy Evans;
  • 9.00 pm: Lisa Bridge and Maggs.

Donations can be made via the Tameside Pub Guide JustGiving page. Before you tune in, please make sure you have enough beers in the fridge, cellar or vestibule.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 04 July 2020 at the usual time of 9am. By then, a few more shops might have opened and Ashton Bus Station Mark IV might be closer to completion. As always, feel free to elaborate on our observations or add a few more to the mix. You know it makes sense, even in such ‘interesting times’.

S.V., 06 June 2020.

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