The Stores That Tesco Ate: A Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten

A look at ten supermarket chains absorbed by Tesco since 1945

For social historians and retail commentators, the recent history of Tesco is peppered with twists and turns. Contemporary hagiographies focus on the store chain’s tax affairs, or their presence on our High Streets.

Much of the groundwork was set in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to Jack Cohen. After organic growth, the end of the 1950s onwards saw Tesco buying regional chains like Irwins and Hillards. Even so, their integration wasn’t all plain sailing: for example, outstanding debts; unsuitable sites; and planning issues. Its turning point came when Ian MacLaurin joined the Tesco board after being a management trainee. As Managing Director in 1977, he ditched the Green Shield stamps, a gimmick which only ten years before, drew shoppers to their stores.

The rest, they say, is your favourite humanities cliché. It set the store chain onto an upward trajectory. Stores grew in size as well as numbers: standard sized supermarkets; plus Extras, Metros and Expresses. Then global domination, and a loyalty card scheme that took the retail world by storm.

In our Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten, we look at the ten store chains that Tesco have acquired since 1945. Continue reading “The Stores That Tesco Ate: A Lost Precinct Not So Perfect Ten”

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Ten Shops That Have Defined The Ladysmith Centre: Ashton Review of Shops Extra

An Ashton Review of Shops Extra Not So Perfect Ten

Ladysmith, Ashton-under-Lyne
Fifty years old: the Ladysmith Shopping Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne. This is the Warrington Street entrance. Photographed by Mikey in Easter 2015 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).

Back when the creator of East of the M60 was born, this entrance seen above was between two iconic stores: Marks and Spencer, and Woolworths. It was also the last weekend before VAT almost doubled from 8% to 15%. Warrington Street wouldn’t be pedestrianised till 1985, and the market ground had three roundabouts. A gigantic yellow-bricked hulk was under construction.

Continue reading “Ten Shops That Have Defined The Ladysmith Centre: Ashton Review of Shops Extra”

Eatymology: A Tea Potted History of the Superstore Café

Feast of the M60 looks at how the superstore café has evolved in the last fifty years

Please forgive me for taking a well trodden part for this introduction. In my formative years, the supermarket café seemed fairly exotic. Supermarkets, when I was young, were small, in town centre locations, and a bit chaotic. The edge of town supermarket with its vast car parking seemed otherworldly. Back then, the Fine Fare hypermarket in Hyde, Ashton’s original ASDA, and the Shopping Giant stores in Droylsden and Denton were notable exceptions. Continue reading “Eatymology: A Tea Potted History of the Superstore Café”

Reality Estates That The Heroes Got: 4. Primrose Bank and Crete Street Tower Blocks

Montrose House and Primrose House: Partington’s short lived twin towers, on opposite sides of Ashton Road

Montrose House, Oldham
Montrose House, Hathershaw: a black and white view of the tower block. Image © 1974 Paul Thorpe.

Throughout the United Kingdom, local authorities were given incentives to build taller tower blocks for slum clearance schemes. As well as heights, there were incentives to adopt experimental building systems. For example: Sectra, Bison, and Jespersen. As well as speeding up the slum clearance schemes, a lot of builders made a packet. Continue reading “Reality Estates That The Heroes Got: 4. Primrose Bank and Crete Street Tower Blocks”

1992: The Last Great Year of 8-Bit Computing

Remembering the commercial twilight era of the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC

1992 was a strange yet eventful year in British home computing. The Sega Mega Drive rose in popularity, the NES was replaced by the 16-bit SNES in many homes. In Dear Old Blighty, there were two factors which delayed their supremacy (for another year at least). One was the recession. Another was the dominant home computer market. Former C64 users were just as likely to plump for an Amiga, which led to 1993 being some sort of a memorable year for Jay Miner’s wonder machine. The console may have been an extra, filed under ‘nice to have’. Continue reading “1992: The Last Great Year of 8-Bit Computing”

Memoirs of a BBC Micro Maniac, Aged Six

Or: how the school computer became my gateway drug to all things of an 8-bit nature.

Acorn BBC Model B - Retrosystems 2010

If you know a thing or three about 8-bit computing, you would have come across the excellent drama, Micro Men (starring Alexander Armstrong as Sir Clive Sinclair). Or, you might have had first-hand experience with a Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, or an Amstrad CPC. Even if you didn’t have access to a microcomputer in the home, you would have had first-hand experience at school. Continue reading “Memoirs of a BBC Micro Maniac, Aged Six”

A Look Back to the ’90s: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten ‘So 1990s’ footnotes in popular culture

Farmcraft, Mapperley, Ilkeston, 12 March 1990
The Sometimes Slightly Narked Bus Hopping Nerd is seen slightly obscured from view in this image, identifiable by a two-tone blue coat. These are the classmates from my old school at the (now gone) Farmcraft camp on Mundy Farm, Mapperley, near Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Oh, and this image was snapped by Jeni Mobbs (late of the Ewing School) on the 12 March 1990.

Where has the time gone? This time 26 years ago, the creator of this blog was having his tea in front of Granada Tonight. Being a Wednesday, yours truly would be drawing in front of Coronation Street or The Ron Lucas Show.The year was 1990. I was back at the Ewing School after half term holidays. Within the first few days of 1990 I knew change was on the horizon. Secondary school was only months away. Continue reading “A Look Back to the ’90s: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Ladysmith Shopping Centre Through The Ages

Four ages of Ashton-under-Lyne’s 1960s precinct

The Ladysmith Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne
The Ladysmith Shopping Centre, photographed with a 50 year-old camera on Ilford XP2 35mm film, in February 2013.

Contrary to popular belief, the Ladysmith Shopping Centre wasn’t Ashton’s first pedestrianised precinct. Stamford Arcade (from Old Street to Stamford Street), Clarence Arcade (again on Stamford Street), and Market Avenue (from the Earl of Stamford’s street up to Bow Street) beat Metrolands’ development to it. Continue reading “Ladysmith Shopping Centre Through The Ages”

Processed Food and Drink of the 1980s and Beyond: The Not So Perfect Ten

A tasty Feast of the M60 Not So Perfect Ten

Many Moons ago (well, the 27 May 2013 to be precise), we did an article on nutritionally incorrect processed food entitled ‘The Tinned Pie’s The Limit‘. In other words, the convenience food you can still get in a lot of supermarkets and discount shops. There was also another post entitled ‘Crimes Against Food‘ from July 2010 which coincided with the launch of Tesco’s Lasagne Sandwiches. This looked at, to some extent convenience food, and meatball butties.

For our Not So Perfect Ten, we have decided to look at some of the processed food you could get in the 1980s and beyond. Some of it has left our shelves unceremoniously with the Turkey Twizzlers, whereas some grace the deepest recesses of your local freezer centre. Others, we look upon with nostalgia and yearn for their return. Continue reading “Processed Food and Drink of the 1980s and Beyond: The Not So Perfect Ten”

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