The Arcades at 25: Ashton Review of Shops Extra

A look at the Arcades Shopping Centre, which should be celebrating its Silver Jubilee this year

In 1995, there was two significant events that changed the way we shopped. One was the launch of Windows ’95. Microsoft’s more user-friendly operating system made the IBM compatible PC a ‘must-have’ addition to every home. Among its killer apps were the Space Cadet pinball game and Internet Explorer. The latter was a baby step towards Amazon’s path to world domination, which began trading in July 1995.

In the following month, Ashton-under-Lyne’s covered shopping centre took shape in the Arcades Shopping Centre. Unlike its older brother next door (today’s Ladysmith Shopping Centre), shoppers can go from one shop to another without an umbrella. Over its twenty-five year existence, it has seen many changes to its retail offerings. Even so, the centre is as popular as ever.

Beginnings

The story of the Arcades Shopping Centre’s arrival involves three versions of Ashton bus station. For Ashton Bus Station Mark I and Mark II, there had been plans to build a car park over the bus station. This would have been part of the TAC Building, and it would have made for an ugly entry to the town centre. Worse than Rochdale’s 1978 bus station at that. Cost cutting measures with the construction of TAC (mercifully) kyboshed this notion.

Therefore, TAC’s main car park became the area around Camp Street. The pelican crossing was added to help Presto shoppers to push their trolley up to their vehicle. One of the easiest ways to maximise parking space in Ashton was another shopping precinct. By the early 1980s, the existing Metrolands precinct started looking dowdy. It had a good mix of shops but, unlike the Arndale Centres in Middleton and Manchester – and the new Town Square Shopping Centre in Oldham – it was uninviting. Especially in winter and wet weather. The lift never worked, and nor did the escalator. There was the joys of the Koffee Pot on the first floor and a good sized Boots at ground level.

By 1986, there had been plans to build what would be today’s Arcades Shopping Centre. On the front pages of The Advertiser and inside any of The Reporter Group of Newspapers’ titles was an artist’s impression of the covered precinct. It had the faux Victorian style architecture, designed to blend in with Ashton Market Hall. Instead of a mobile phone shop beside its Warrington Street entrance was a branch of Times Furnishing.

In 1989, a leaflet issued by Tameside MBC had another reference to the shopping centre. Once again, with the same architectural style as the artist’s impression three years earlier. Further plans included a remodelled open market ground, which was completed in 1993.

By 1993, Ballast Nedam began building work on the shopping centre. This meant the sacrifice of The Ashton Hotel public house. The Radcliffe Freedom Gardens was moved to its present position facing Oldham Road. With the demolition of low rise flats on Wellington Road, work on the third incarnation of Ashton Bus Station began.

Countdown to opening

Though the Arcades Shopping Centre wasn’t fully open till October 1995, parts of its first phase began trading in late-1994. The 31 October 1994 saw the opening of Ashton’s third incarnation of Woolworths. F.W. Woolworth began trading in Ashton-under-Lyne on Stamford Street, in a unit which is now The Wooden Canal Boat Society charity shop. By 1973, it became the second anchor store of Metrolands’ precinct opposite the open market and Marks and Spencer.

The third store, which seemed to have had less retail space than its second, had two floors. The ground floor was Pick and Mix, Ladybird clothes, posters, records, stationery, videos and computer games. The first floor had gardening tools, paint, toys, and a café. There was a lift between the two floors, next to a steep set of stairs.

Next to join was Argos, which at the time was conveniently placed for the R stand of Ashton Bus Station Mark III. Adding to Ashton’s array of shoe shops at the time was Shoe Express. Its neighbour was Partners, a stationery chain later taken over by Ryman. Between Argos and Partners was Connors. They sold toiletries and beauty products, before the chain was taken over by Superdrug.

By the summer of 1995, the shopping centre began to take its familiar shape. The arcade became the Arcades proper when the up escalator was added. One gimmick (apart from the fact it actually worked) was the fact you could see the steps going up and down. This was thanks to a transparent panel.

Opening day

The Arcades Shopping Centre opened in October 1995. Cutting the ribbon was (the now disgraced) Hydonian football commentator and Northwest Tonight presenter Stuart Hall. He was accompanied by Su Pollard. The opening took place in Massarella’s Café which had a bigger first floor unit at the time.

On opening day, The Arcades Shopping Centre’s retail offerings also included:

  • Adams: a children’s outfitters;
  • Allsports, where the Arcades unit was an improvement for shoppers that couldn’t take the stairs up to their Warrington Street branch;
  • Andy’s Records: a specialist record shop, and one of the few mainstream retailers in Ashton where you could have bought the latest albums by Half Man Half Biscuit and Oasis;
  • Barratt’s Shoes: posh shoes, at fairly posh prices;
  • Burger King: facing Ashton Open Market, Ashton’s Burger King had two floors, with a Wurlitzer style jukebox on the first floor;
  • Crazy George’s: a white goods retailer, formed from the ashes of Radio Rentals. Opposite the Warrington Street entrance of Wilko (Mark I);
  • Dixons: toys, for big people. Like televisions, cameras, hi-fi equipment and the odd computer game. The Dixons Stores Group’s first town centre store in Ashton since Currys left what is now the Ladysmith Shopping Centre (Currys’ unit is now occupied by CeX);
  • Early Learning Centre: toys, for little people;
  • Fosters: a menswear shop, back in Ashton after a ten-year hiatus. The previous branch was on the corner of Stamford Street and Warrington Street, and previously a branch of John Collier;
  • Game: back then, Game was selling titles for the Sega Saturn, 3DO and Sony Playstation consoles. The store used to have a massive TV at the centre of the unit where you could play Nights Into Dreams. Oh, and the Amiga section was a bit like the Betamax selection in Jubilee Video Centre at the time;
  • Halifax Building Society: even in its demutualised form, still in the shopping centre to this day;
  • JJB Sports: at the time, Dave Whelan’s fledgling sportswear chain;
  • John Menzies: now today’s WHSmith, following the takeover of their retail operations in 1998. Back then, John Menzies had two branches in Tameside;
  • Lunn Poly: facing the open market, a branch of the travel agency which is now part of TUI;
  • Miss Attitude: before being taken over by Claire’s Accessories, Reuben Singh’s accessories chain had a small unit beside John Menzies;
  • New Look: the first New Look unit was beside one of the lifts and near the stairs;
  • Next: everyone’s favourite smart outfitters chain, still there today;
  • Paper Tree: a card shop chain store, later taken over by Clinton’s;
  • Tandy: next to Woolworths, a smaller unit than the superior one in Hyde;
  • Thorntons: confectionery and toffee, of an upmarket variety. Moved to the Arcades Shopping Centre from their previous unit on Market Avenue;
  • Waldmans: facing the open market, they sold tea towels, bed linen, curtains and dish cloths.

In 1995, Massarella’s café occupied a much bigger unit than the present-day branch. This was taken on by New Look in 2006, who outgrew their original smaller branch.

The Black Knight statue

Another feature of the Arcades Shopping Centre was the Black Knight statue. This was situated between John Menzies and the Early Learning Centre. The statue commemorates Ashton-under-Lyne’s legend, who is reputed to be Ralph de Assheton. Legend has it that he was shot on Easter Monday in the 1400s by a relative. His death was commemorated by a pageant on Easter Monday, known as Riding The Black Lad. When the Arcades Shopping Centre opened, the Black Knight Pageant was revived.

On unveiling, many Ashtonians were annoyed with the Black Lad statue not being black enough. In its original form, it was in brown, which looked like a plasticine model in some people’s eyes. When the centre was refurbished in 2006, the statue disappeared. After being left under a tarpaulin, it was saved from obscurity by Tameside MBC, who made it a focal point of the Council Offices’ Customer Service Centre. The statue was given a fresh coat of paint, this time in black.

Following the replacement of the TAC Building with Tameside One, the Black Knight statue is reputed to be in storage.

Towards the millennium

The first five years of the Arcades Shopping Centre seem to be a bit more settled than the last five years. Britain saw great expansion in its service economy, as shopping became a more social activity instead of something borne out of necessity. To meet the challenge of its red brick upstart, Ladysmith Shopping Centre benefited from refurbishment work in 1998, which meant the loss of its first floor units. Spare land beside the railway line, off Oldham Road became the Ashton Retail Park. Snipe Retail Park was in rude health. There was murmurs of extensive development in Ashton Moss – with a Metrolink line from Manchester city centre.

Locally, the Arcades Shopping Centre increased Ashton’s reach – at the expense of the other towns that made up Tameside. At a Greater Manchester level, the Arcades would be one small part of a competitive retail scene. Its competition came from a post-IRA bomb Manchester city centre; which in turn would face competition from Peel Holdings’ Trafford Centre. Like Bury, Ashton benefited from having an iconic indoor and outdoor market, which ensured good footfall.

By 1997, recent arrivals to the centre included Temptation, a ladies’ boutique. The seating area on either side of the escalator was replaced by Donut Magic, giving Ashtonians the smell of sickly sweet doughnuts. A new sandwich bar, Dishy’s Sandwich Bar, opened in a unit opposite M and N stands of Ashton Bus Station (Mark III). It is still in use, as the ever-popular Sandwich Pound. Connors became Superdrug.

At the start of the new millennium, the Arcades Shopping Centre had a wide variety of shops to suit all tastes. From babies to baby boomers, it added something to the retail scene in Ashton-under-Lyne. There was no need for the internet as you could get everything in the town centre.

By 2001, the retail landscape was changing. At one end of the scale, out-of-town retail was buoyant, thanks to the joys of free parking. At another end of the scale, supermarket chains increased their non-food offerings to a point where specialist stores floundered.

One victim of this was Tandy. In 1999, Carphone Warehouse bought the UK arm of Radio Shack and ran Tandy’s stores for a while. This meant store closures with the Arcades Shopping Centre following suit in 2001. In the same year, it became T2, an independent chain that bought a number of former Tandy stores across the UK. As a bricks and mortar chain, this was a short lived venture.

Thank in no small part to the internet, the way we purchased our music changed. Back in 2001, the Daily Mail thought MP3 players were the evil incarnate because of folk not paying £13.99 for a CD album. At one end, this affected specialist chains like Andy’s Records. At the other end, supermarkets and discounters ate into their market share at the price end of the scale. In 2003, Andy’s Records disappeared from our High Streets, and the Arcades branch was no exception.

Despite these changes to the retail scene, Ashton-under-Lyne was still bustling. It was the third most visited shopping centre in Greater Manchester after Bury and Manchester city centre. A year later, this would change. On the 25 May 2004, there was one event which had a lasting effect on the popularity of Ashton-under-Lyne town centre. One, which some observers might say, it hasn’t recovered from at all.

The Unforgettable Fire and a downturn

Long before the Arcades Shopping Centre, the heart of Ashton-under-Lyne town centre was its market. Its iconic Market Hall and once extensive open market. On Tuesday 25 May 2004 at around 2am, the market hall was ablaze. All the indoor market stalls and internal walls were razed with minor damage to the clock tower.

The Arcades fit into this part of the story as the precinct acts as a gateway to the open and indoor markets. Back then, it had a decent variety of shops which made it more than a thoroughfare. There was even plans to expand the shopping centre, in time for the arrival of Ashton’s new Metrolink trams.

Almost two months on from the Market Hall fire, the then Transport Minister Alasdair Darling dealt a body blow. Due to budget overruns, he announced on the 20 July the cancellation of Metrolink’s third phase – The Big Bang Expansion – which would cover Ashton-under-Lyne, and the Oldham – Rochdale Loop Line. After a 50,000 name petition and a campaign led by local councillors, the plans were back on track though initially came with a cost: a two-zone congestion charge.

It was hoped that the Metrolink’s expansion into Ashton-under-Lyne would bring shoppers into an expanded Arcades Shopping Centre. When the light rail system did arrive in September 2013, the demand for more units had long since gone. The direction of travel for Ashton’s shoppers drifted further away from town towards Ashton Moss, thanks to a Sainsburys superstore (opened in 2002) and IKEA’s arrival in October 2006. There was pretty decent business at Snipe Retail Park, which had been Ashton’s out-of-town shopping destination since the late 1980s.

By the 21st century, the internet started to make greater inroads into our lives. In the latter part of the noughties, it became the norm to do most of our shopping online, thus avoiding parking fees or bus fares. By 2004, shoppers no longer needed to go to the town centre – or leave the house for that matter.

White goods and gadgets became a natural preserve for online shoppers – a continuation of the non-food sector’s flight towards retail parks and superstores. By 2006, Dixons had closed its smaller stores and rebranding its remaining town centre shops under the Currys Digital banner. Ashton-under-Lyne’s branch of Dixons closed, but the owners of the Arcades Shopping Centre found an attractive new tenant in HMV, filling the void left by Andy’s Records’ closure.

The Arcades came of age, and saw itself as a potential shopping destination with national appeal as well as local appeal. The arrival of a new Metrolink station and the town’s fourth version of its bus station would have been a positive factor. As was the IKEA store which opened on the 19 October 2006. On that very same date, Ashton-under-Lyne Post Office moved from its purpose-built facility on Warrington Street to WHSmith. It was one of the first Crown Post Offices to have moved into branches of WHSmith alongside Post Offices in Slough, Hammersmith, Stretford and Altrincham.

In June 2006, plans were given the go ahead for a £40 million extension. One that would have given Ashton-under-Lyne its first substantial department store since Arcadia’s closure in 1993. One substantially bigger than Marks and Spencer on Warrington Street, and considerably bigger than Littlewoods’ and F.W. Woolworth’s units on Stamford Street. The Arcades’ extension would have been gift wrapped for Autumn 2009 – in time for Christmas.

What wasn’t foreseen at the time was Lehman Brothers’ collapse, and subprime mortgage defaults in the US that led to a global financial downturn. Nor the fall of Northern Rock Building Society in 2007. Nor the credit crunch, which led to a rise of zero hour contracts being used and the arrival of Britain’s first food banks.

The house of cards caused by the credit crunch affected our retailers. Issues with the distribution of recorded music were a factor in Woolworths’ demise. Apart from that, the shops didn’t have the same footfall in 2008 as they did in 2003. Due to the credit crunch, the Arcades Shopping Centre’s retail offerings became less diverse.

Post-Credit Crunch Comings and Goings

Despite the crunch, the Arcades Shopping Centre went about its merry way and continued to reinvent itself. By 2007, Massarella’s Café had moved from its original bigger unit to a small unit adjacent to Woolworths. New Look took on the café’s original unit, with New Look’s previous unit being let out to Footlocker. Donut Magic, close to the escalator since 1997, later became Bru Station.

On the 02 January 2009, Ashton’s third and final Woolworths store closed its doors for good. Like many former Woolworths stores across the UK, part of the store became Betfred and Poundland. Poundland’s unit was opened in Autumn 2009 by reality TV star Joe Swash (whom, if Tameside Hippodrome was still open, could have been a shoo-in for Buttons or Prince Charming). As for Woolworths’ upstairs unit, that was let to Wilko in 2016 on a short term basis, pending their move to Tameside One. Wilko had had occupied the former Presto supermarket on the ground floor of TAC. Today, Woolies’ first floor is back to being empty.

By 2009, Adams’ Childrenswear chain fell victim to the credit crunch. After being empty for a while, the unit was taken on by Trespass. Three years on, Early Learning Centre closed, with the unit now home to Gems after being empty for a while (apart from a few weeks around Christmas when it was The Calendar Club). 2012 also saw the loss of JJB Sports, which was later replaced by Simply Clintons. Clintons was on the opposite side of JJB Sports, in a unit inherited from the acquisition of Paper Tree. Clintons’ former unit was taken on by Card Factory, which moved from one of the four Warrington Street units.

Thanks largely to the way we listen to our music or watch our films, HMV left the Arcades Shopping Centre in 2013. It was taken on by That’s Entertainment the following year, a subsidiary of Music Magpie. Halfway through their four-year stint in the Arcades, they moved to an upstairs unit adjacent to New Look. At that point, Pep and Co, a sister business to Poundland moved in to the former Dixons/HMV/That’s Entertainment. Their tenure was brief as in 2018, Poundland’s parent company decided to transfer Pep and Co’s business to its Poundland stores.

In spite of a challenging climate, the Arcades Shopping Centre saw a few more changes which worked in the shoppers’ favour. The most notable one was the addition of two new escalators. The original up escalator was replaced by a new one, facing the then new temporary Wilko store. Nearest to the bank of lifts beside New Look was the addition of a down escalator. This gave the Arcades more space for its ground floor eatery, now let by Bap [Bread and Pizza].

The summer of 2017 saw a move for JD Sports. They chose to vacate their upstairs unit in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre and move to the Arcades Shopping Centre. Now more accessible, they took the former Andys Records/Bank and Game units next to WHSmith and Trespass.

2018 saw a lot of changes to the Arcades Shopping Centre’s offerings. The precinct’s smaller units ceased to be the preserve of shoe shops, sports shops and fashion retailers. With the exception of new arrivals Roman and Gems, the roll call of tenants south east of WHSmith included an expanded EE Shop (thanks to the closure of another shop on Warrington Street), the 3 Store, Vodafone’s shop and Barclays Bank. Barclays moved from their comparatively palatial banking hall on Stamford Street Central. The upside of which being a cleaner, more accessible retail bank with indoor cash machines being a plus.

Also leaving the Arcades in 2018 were two significant chain stores. One was Claire’s Accessories, which started out in 1995 as Miss Attitude. Their unit was split into two, shared between The Fragrance Shop (which moved from an open stall backing on to H. Samuel) and NM Money, a bureau de change with another cash machine.

The second one was Argos. Since Sainsburys purchased the catalogue store chain from Great Universal (who bought Argos from British American Tobacco), the company has integrated most of its Argos stores with Sainsburys supermarkets. On the 21 March 2018, they transferred Ashton-under-Lyne’s branch to the Ashton Moss Sainsburys store, whilst retaining the second store on Snipe Retail Park. At present, the unit is vacant. Now Ashton-under-Lyne’s fourth bus station is fully operational, it might be an attractive unit again for potential tenants.

After moving to the first floor, That’s Entertainment vacated their unit in the Arcades, leaving a temporary gap adjacent to New Look. This would later become the Ping Pong Parlour. Interestingly, the Ping Pong Parlour moved from its previous unit downstairs – the one hitherto occupied by That’s Entertainment, Pep and Co, HMV and Dixons.

January 2019 saw the severing of Ashton’s last link with the F.W. Woolworth Corporation (Woolworths’ American parent till 1982). Foot Locker closed its Ashton branch, with the unit lying empty. The chain only has three stores in Greater Manchester: intu Trafford Centre, Manchester Arndale, and Bury. For most of the year, the Gabbots Farmfoods unit – latterly trading as Crawshaws – was empty. It has, in the last three months in 2020, reopened as a Crawshaws shop.

At the start of 2020, Value Clothing had taken on the former HMV unit. In July of this year, it became Essentials – a walk-around discount shop with spartan decor – a modern-day forerunner to Just Wot U Need and The Fullmonte. We have also seen Quiz Clothing leave the Arcades.

Towards the present day

The Arcades Shopping Centre has had a pretty turbulent five years. Its fluid line-up of retail comings and goings are indicative of today’s febrile High Street environment. For most of the decade, not a month has gone by without news of a big store chain falling into administration. Or another store chain wishing to renegotiate its rental agreements.

This year has seen the loss of Thorntons from the Arcades Shopping Centre. Betfred closed their smaller unit on what was part of the Woolworths store. Greggs have added a second branch to Ashton-under-Lyne, taking in one of the Arcades’ Warrington Street units. By November, Ashton-under-Lyne could lose one of its last links with the Cooperative Movement should The Cooperative Bank close in the former Burger King unit. On any other year, these events would have been trifling. In the centre’s 25th – and arguably most challenging year – it has had to face the onslaught of a pandemic as well as online shopping.

Today, its retail offerings tend to offer no real contrast with its 53-year-old neighbour, the Ladysmith Shopping Centre. As the prognosis for High Street spending is a negative one, that multi-million pound department store plan of 2006 seems to have been kicked into the long grass. More so as economic forecasters have predicted a 1929 style Great Depression thanks to COVID-19 – let alone that infamous six-letter word that begins with ‘B’.

In the last ten years, the Arcades Shopping Centre has changed dramatically inside in terms of retail offerings. It has even changed hands in its 25-year life, from MAB UK to Apollo Ashton and Fairacre Property. One wonders what the Arcades Shopping Centre would look like in 2045. Will it be a giant Laser Quest arena with a Ping Pong Parlour and café? Would it be gone by then? Or would it be thriving?

Gone But Not Forgotten

A near complete gazetteer of The Lost Shops of the Arcades Shopping Centre.

  • 526 Jeans: occupied one of the Warrington Street units, second stint in Ashton after occupying a street level unit in Main Street Shopping Centre (now The Ash Tree).
  • Adams Childrenswear: one of the first tenants. Now occupied by Trespass.
  • Allsports: their ground floor unit offered a real improvement on the first floor one on Warrington Street. Later became All:Sports before becoming Streetwise Sports.
  • Andy’s Records: Ashton’s first chainstore record shop for discerning listeners. Ceased trading in 2003, replaced by Bank Clothing. Now part of today’s JD Sports store.
  • Argos: one of the first tenants, opening in early 1995. Closed March 2018.
  • Bank Clothing: men’s fashion shop that leased Andy’s Records’ unit.
  • Bay Trading: women’s fashion retailer next to Allsports.
  • Burger King: superior to Ashton’s McDonalds back then, due to smaller queues and the jukebox upstairs, taking on what is now (for the time being) The Cooperative Bank’s unit.
  • Candle World: a buzzy candle shop which was next to Massarella’s Café (Mark 1).
  • Characters: unisex hairdressers on the first floor next door to Tandy. One of two branches in Greater Manchester (the other was in Middleton Arndale Centre).
  • Connors: chemist chain, taken over by Superdrug in 1998, who have since expanded into the former Partners unit. At one point, the chain was linked with a takeover bid by Boots.
  • Crazy George’s: from the ashes of Radio Rentals, Crazy George’s offered the same White Goods At Extortionate Interest Rates Model for furniture as well as televisions. They occupied a unit next to Halifax which faced TAC. Left the Arcades around 1997 before reemerging as Bright House in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre (taking on the former Mothercare unit).
  • Darryl Bates Hairdressers: moving over from Market Street, Stalybridge (in what is now the Lions Bar), Darryl Bates took on the former Crazy George’s units. Their stay was a brief one.
  • Dixons: one of the first Arcades tenants and, despite leaving in 2006, still the longest serving tenant in Units 11 and 12.
  • Donut Magic: the first café to take on a lease at the ground floor, by the see-through escalator. Opened in 1997 with parts of the precinct smelling of doughnuts.
  • First Sport: took on the former Shoe Express unit. Now The Works Bookshop.
  • Foot Locker: took on New Look’s original unit next to Gabbot’s Farmfoods. Vacated unit in early 2019, unit still available at the time of writing.
  • Fosters: one of the early tenants of the Arcades Shopping Centre, returning to Ashton after a ten-year gap (their previous branch was on Stamford Street, formerly John Collier). Unit now occupied by 3 Store.
  • Game: from 1995 to 2016, this was Ashton-under-Lyne’s foremost computer games store. On opening, a great place for the then-state-of-the-art Sony Playstation console gamer. Unit later taken on by JD Sports along with the former Andy’s Records/Bank unit.
  • Gems: a recent arrival, took on the former Early Learning Centre unit. Closed early this year.
  • Goody Two Shoes: had first floor unit near staircase. Later moved to Ashton-under-Lyne Market Hall where they still ply their trade today.
  • JJB Sports: one of the Arcades Shopping Centre’s first tenants, staying in the Arcades till Dave Whelan wound up the business to focus on DW Leisure. Unit presently let by Barclays Bank.
  • Magpie’s Nest: now concentrating solely on their Stalybridge showroom, Magpie’s Nest took on the former Allsports unit between 2018 and 2019.
  • Miss Attitude: once the go-to place for hair baubles and similar accessories. Later became Claire’s Accessories before being split into two units.
  • Partners: not the cheapest but the best chainstore stationers that Ashton had, other than WHSmith (and John Menzies before then). Shortly after Partners’ acquisition by Ryman, Ashton’s branch closed.
  • Phones 4U: one of the Arcades Shopping Centre’s first mobile phone shops. Shortly after they ceased trading, Vodafone took on many of Phones 4U’s former unit. Ashton’s branch is survived by Vodafone.
  • Quiz Clothing: a recent departure from the Arcades Shopping Centre.
  • Shoe Express: discount shoes with high shelves. Replaced by First Sport.
  • Shoe Tree: took on what was then the second largest first floor unit in the Arcades Shopping Centre, adjacent to Massarella’s Café. After closing, later became That’s Entertainment’s unit. After being the Ping Pong Parlour, it became Beauty Zone.
  • Tables: a pottery shop on the first floor with the tagline ‘pottery for your home’ on its fascia. Close to Massarella’s Café.
  • Tandy: one of the first tenants of the Arcades Shopping Centre and (if you count Procom Electronics whom at the time were Tandy Agents), Radio Shack’s second Ashtonian outpost.
  • Thorntons: moved to the Arcades Shopping Centre from Market Avenue and one of the first tenants. Closed early this year, unit now vacant.
  • Temptation: a short lived women’s wear store. Unit now leased by EE.
  • Tiger Photo: short lived sister unit to their photographic studio in Uppermill. Now occupied by Massarella’s café.
  • Travel Guru: took on the former Allsports unit in early 2019. Only lasted a month after moving from their previous unit in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre (when they traded as NS Travel).
  • Waldmans: offered tea towels, curtains and pillow cases. Later became Knightingales and Ponden Mill.
  • Woolworths: the most famous lost shop of Ashton’s Arcades Shopping Centre, and the shopping centre’s anchor store, opening in October 1994. It was one of the last Woolworths stores to cease trading, closing on the 03 January 2009.

Before I go…

Have you had, in the last 25 years, any memories of the Arcades Shopping Centre? Do you work there or did you work there? Did you meet your true love there, or bunk off school to call in to Game? Do you have any fond memories of the lost shops? Feel free to comment.

S.V., 11 October 2020.

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