This month’s semi-quarantined window on the shop windows
Has normality resumed? Well, in the last six weeks, there was some liberalisation of the lockdown conditions. Then, stricter conditions of our lockdown were imposed – announced only hours before coming into force. Our neighbours in Oldham had even stricter conditions imposed, some 300 yards short of a full lockdown.
On the other hand, football has returned to our borough, albeit with the loss of one of Tameside’s most formidable teams. Plus we got a new bus station.
A post lockdown friendly match
With social distancing in place, football returned to our borough. Ashton United, Stalybridge Celtic, Hyde United, and Mossley began their close season friendlies. Prior to the end of August, the most fans our clubs could admit was 200 or 300. From the 01 September, this was raised to 400 or 600.
At Bower Fold, Stalybridge Celtic’s home, this has meant every other row of seats being left vacant in the Main Stand and the Lord Tom Pendry Stand opposite. Across each row, each fan (or a group of six fans) have to stand or sit three seats (or two metres) apart from each other.
With our borough’s Northern Premier League sides, each fan has to ‘sign in’, allowing for Testing and Tracing, should the worst happen. This has also meant the introduction of social distancing friendly queuing spots and one way systems. With capacities limited to 400 and 600 (in the NPL First North West and First South East, and Premier Divisions), this would mean the introduction of online ticketing systems. For the ‘Bridge/Hyde Derby on Boxing Day, there’s the possibility of a sell-out crowd with another 200 watching from Hough Hill.
My experience with Stalybridge Celtic’s friendly games against West Didsbury and Chorlton, AFC Liverpool and Belper Town were positive. Having to queue for over ten minutes to get in was a new experience. Especially for our friendly Full House against West Didsbury and Chorlton. AFC Liverpool’s match came close to triggering the ‘House Full’ signs. For the first two games, this meant having to be at the ground minutes after the gates open. With the Belper Town game, less so with the attendance figures being lower for night matches anyway.
On a sad note, there will be no Bloods in our local football scene. After COVID-19 took a battering to club revenues, Droylsden FC have resigned from the Northern Premier League and all F.A. Competitions. We hope their absence from semi-professional football will be a brief one, when you consider how The Butchers Arms has come on over the last two decades. Also when you consider how well placed it is for local pubs, bus and tram links.
The sad thing is, the same transport links that the Bloods benefited from have also helped another club. One that has won a domestic treble of late. One that – before COVID-19 – had a significant impact on the club’s attendance figures. In the last month, a Go Fund Me campaign has been launched by Ellis Allen. This, he hopes will ensure the Bloods will return to action by the 2021 – 22 season.
The Town House
If you are a regular or semi-regular customer at The Station pub on Warrington Street, you may have seen or heard of Pauline Town. Her work in helping vulnerable people within our borough is nothing short of phenomenal. Building on her success with the We Shall Overcome campaign, she helped to launch The Town House.
Situated near St. Ann’s Church on Burlington Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, it has been developed in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Salford and Father Simon Firth. The new Homeless Shelter, as seen in the Manchester Evening News‘ article goes above and beyond what have previously passed as homeless shelters. There is also a food bank and laundry facilities on its ground floor.
The new centre opened on the 27 July. Other services include a community café and help for the people they support with advice on welfare rights, domestic abuse, and mental health issues.
A month after its test run, the new Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange opened on the 30 August. The new bus station is based around a single terminal, with four satellite stands on either side of the Metrolink station. At this time of writing, road works at the Water Street end of the bus station means passengers on the 347 route are still using the temporary stands on Gas Street.
The new facility will have a convenience store and has (for once) decent toilet facilities. There will also be a cash machine – putting Ashton’s bus station into the 21st century like Hyde’s 2004 effort. All but two of Ashton-under-Lyne’s bus routes will begin or end their journey at the state-of-the-art interchange.
The two routes that wont be using this facility are South Pennine Community Transport’s 357 to Holmfirth, and North Western’s 236 to Glossop (via Gamesley and Simmondley). The newly introduced 236 route was suspended on Thursday due to financial problems with North Western’s parent company, GB Coaches.
Retail redundancies and closures
From November, there could be one less retail bank in Ashton-under-Lyne. The Cooperative Bank’s Ashton branch may be one of eighteen branches to face closure that month. Its nearest branches will be in Oldham, Manchester and Stockport. From next year, the Co-op will no longer have a presence in Ashton. Could Ashton-under-Lyne be the largest town without a Co-op store and bank of some description in 2021?
Thanks to COVID-19 meaning temporary closures, Costa Coffee will also be shedding jobs. This time with a loss of 1,650 jobs, though mercifully no store closures. The job losses will not affect its Baristas, as Costa’s owners (The Coca Cola Company) will abolish the Assistant Store Manager role across its cafés.
Forthcoming Planning Applications
With the lockdown still in place (and beefed up a bit in these parts!), 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…
- Causing much controversy on 17 Queen’s Walk, Droylsden are plans to have an Adult Gaming Centre. Its plans include the addition of a new shop fascia as well as the usual slot machines. The company’s Merkur Slots brand, which they have in mind for Droylsden, is in a similar vein to Admiral’s units on Mercian Way and Market Avenue (Ashton-under-Lyne).
- A meeting room for community groups could be added to ALDI’s Ashton-under-Lyne store. This will take the form of an extension, which will take up two Parent and Child parking spaces.
- The former Trifles unit on Market Avenue, Ashton-under-Lyne could see a change of use from to a takeaway, following a change of licence from restaurant to takeaway.
- Unit 5, one of the railway arch units off Lower Wharf Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, could become a dance school known as The Cheer Lab.
- Stalybridge Celtic Football Club has submitted plans for tree removal works on the corner of the Popular Side and Town End terraces at Bower Fold. This would see the removal of one tree, which is close to the perimeter wall.
- Plans for a 2.4 metre fence by the substation and plant of Ashton Old Baths have been approved.
Little to report; a short but sweet update again.
- Occupying part of the former Feathers public house on Stanley Square, Stalybridge is the Aran convenience store. This unit was split from BBronze’s unit and is situated in what used to be the best room of the Bass house.
- As to where one part of the BBronze business has gone, BB You Beautiful has settled into a corner unit on Corporation Street and Trinity Street, Stalybridge.
- Also occupying what was at one time the Fish Market in Stalybridge is Blush Beatique.
- On Market Street, Stalybridge, Pizza Pan has benefited from a facelift. It has new signage, windows and doors.
- The Nisa store on King Street, Dukinfield is coming along nicely, though it doesn’t quite respect the building’s past as a bank. By the time you have read this, it should be open. It will also have a Costa Coffee refreshment point, which may come into its own on Whit Sunday (should the Whit Walks return next year). The ramp for wheelchair users and pushchairs is a welcome move.
- The former Betfred unit in the Arcades Shopping Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne is set to become an E-Cig shop. Whereas Ashton-under-Lyne had over a dozen shoe shops and market stalls 20 years ago, there seems to be a similar number of e-cig shops and stalls in the town.
- New to the Ladysmith Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne is The A World on Mercian Way. It is one of four shops in Greater Manchester by a local charity that works with people on the autism spectrum. Their other three shops are in Swinton, Eccles and Leigh – deepest Lancashire United territory to bus fanatics of a certain age.
- Another recent arrival to Ashton-under-Lyne is Angus and Smash, which as the name implies specialises in upscale burgers and grilled steaks. The new establishment is situated on Penny Meadow.
Pub and club update
Early last month, Paula Roberts pulled her last pints at The Wheatsheaf in Dukinfield after five years. Taking her place at the iconic public house are Steve and Claire. Their plans include pizza ovens, live sport, bingo, and – most importantly – live music. All of which, especially live music and karaoke, will take us towards The Stuart and Angela Golden Age of The Wheatsheaf. A step in the right direction, we think. Oh, and give The Wheatsheaf’s Facebook page a ‘like’, you know you want to…
After the successful Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the J.D Wetherspoon chain has launched Stay Out To Help Out. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, there will be reduced prices on a small number of popular dishes. A beer and a burger will be £5.29 and all soft drinks will be 99p. A Traditional Breakfast will be £2.99. As for their refillable teas and coffees, 99p – even for a latte or a cappuccino. If you’re on the way to a night match, this is worth taking advantage of before you get the bus to Bower Fold, Hurst Cross or Seel Park. The offer is on till the 11 November.
The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn (Mark II) on Market Street, Stalybridge is asking for an experienced cook. Since the new Rifleman opened last June, it has gone up in leaps and bound despite the pandemic. The successful applicant will be responsible for serving “good hearty food with a military twist”. The position is Part Time and the rate of pay is negotiable upon interview. To apply for the position of Experienced Cook/Chef, please send your CV off to email@example.com.
The Rifleman isn’t the only hostelry asking for part time staff: over in Dukinfield, the new-look Forester wants Bar Staff/Front of House staff. If you are able to work weekends and evenings, apply in writing through their Facebook page. Please note that you need to be over eighteen years of age. Like Tim Martin’s pub chain, The Forester will be offering discounts on food on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Their version of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme will be in place till the end of September.
As I write these notes, yours truly under normal circumstances would be looking forward to the Tameside Rotary Club’s Beer Festival at Stalybridge Civic Hall (“Plus we’re short of pint glasses in East of the M60 Towers” – Ed). Thanks to COVID-19, and the social distancing nightmares that a beer festival could create, Donkeystone Brewing Co. will be hosting the Tameside Rotary Virtual Beer Fest. This will be taking place on the 02 October with all monies raised going to Tameside charities.
In other news, The White House on Market Street, Stalybridge has raised their game in the pie stakes. Ashley Rook from Swill and Swine has started offering homemade Meat and Potato Pies and Homity Vegetable Pies. From what we have seen, they do look delightful. At Bower Fold Events‘ gaffe (Stalybridge Celtic’s home of course, do keep up), you can pop in for breakfast from 8am to 11.30am. If you’re seeing the ‘Bridge’s F.A. Cup Preliminary Round tie at Stocksbridge Park Steels, this could put you on till the supporters’ coach arrives.
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Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 03 September 2020 at the usual time of 9am. Unlike this month’s bulletin, there might be fewer football references (well, we are excited about the new season starting again). As always, feel free to elaborate on our observations or add a few more to the mix.
S.V., 05 September 2020.