It had two opening ceremonies in the same year, was owned at one time by the National Union of Mineworkers’ and National Coal Board’s Pension Fund, housed not one, not two but three supermarkets at the same time (Fine Fare, Lancashire Co-op and Tesco) and was opened ahead of its equivalent in Manchester.
What was it? Morecambe’s Arndale Centre which this year celebrates its 50th birthday.
The Arndale Centre first opened its doors to customers at 10am on Thursday May 25 1972.
A queue of about 100 people, shopping bags in hand, had formed at the main entrance, keen on snapping up opening-day bargains and meeting Morecambe & Wise who were there to open the Co-op.
The crowds were kept entertained by the Leyland Pipers.
The Arndale Centre was a joint venture between Town & City Properties Ltd and Morecambe & Heysham Borough Council, representatives of each being there on the day, especially the Mayor of Morecambe & Heysham, Councillor Tom Tiplady.
Councillor Tiplady, a former journalist, had penned some verse specially for the occasion dedicated to the partner in the venture, Town & City.
Gone are the forms of yesteryear
A new shape of Morecambe emerges here
Where actors did once strut the stage
Many forms in trade engage
Sun Street has set without a glow
How Pedder Street will look we do not know
Cheapside disappeared at price
Moss Lane re-named within a trice
Anderton Street leads into a square
But part of Euston lingers there
Happily we’ll hear the rattle of change
As eager shoppers widely range
Around about in this attractive mall
Tunstall remains but not it all
If you came by car to save your feet
You may park it near in Market Street
Success to trade in Arndale Centre
Pray God to bless all they who enter.
The project architects were Michel, Lyell & Waller (Bradford), the structural architects Turner Lansdowne Holt & Partners (Manchester), Structural Engineers White, Young & Partners (Bradford), Quantity Surveyors RG McCaffrey (Bradford), main contractors Gilbert Ash (NW) Ltd and Letting Agents Healey & Baker, George Street, Hanover
The contractors included Butterfield Signs of Bradford, Saunders Timbers, Kendal Roofing Co, Rycrofts Ironmongery (West St, Morecambe), J McDowall glazing (Euston Rd, Morecambe), A Andrews & Sons Flooring (Leeds) and C&A Hanson Mineralite Facings (Blackpool).
Initial traders included Kew House (Farm Fresh Foods), Lancastria Co-op, NW Gas Board and NORWEB showrooms.
The new shopping centre was described as offering a ‘spacious and attractive layout ...traffic-free shopping malls ... warm in winter and cool in summer ... friendly atmosphere and guaranteed protection against all kinds of weather ... wide selection of merchandise ... all under one roof ... even the man of your house will derive pleasure from what he
may previously have thought to be a somewhat painful experience’ (!).
Morecambe’s Arndale Centre owned by NewRiver REIT, is currently up for sale for £5m.