We're Back to Square One

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Byline: By Hannah Davies

Newcastle's Eldon Square shopping centre has been surrounded in controversy from its inception as a figurehead for the city's post-war re-birth. Hannah Davies takes a look back at its history and what the future holds.

Since its opening day on March 4, 1976, Newcastle's Eldon Square mall has attracted millions of North shoppers.

As the padlock was taken off its entrance hundreds gathered, eager to see what the 20th century shopping experience was to look like.

Thousands lined the streets when its status as the symbol of the future of the North was cemented with a visit from The Queen just months later. In September 1976, when the second part of the pounds 60m centre flung open its doors, the country's biggest ever Boots store was unveiled.

Newcastle's famous Bainbridge department store, first opened by Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge and William Alder Dunn in 1838 in Market Street, also relocated to the new shopping centre, cementing its role at the centre of Tyneside shopping.

Situated in Northumberland Square, one of the main attractions and Bainbridge's treat for children, was a UFO-style cafA.

One thing is certain, during the 70s and 80s Eldon Square was the most popular place to shop. Many adults now have childhood memories of playing on the big pencils sculptures which were placed at the far entrance of Bainbridge ( where the Eldon Garden entrance is now. And a host of stars visited the centre's old Our Price store with local rock stars Bryan Ferry and Sting making signing appearances.

Eldon Square was the place where people bought the latest fashions and were seen wearing them. The Topshop store even went a step further in 1982 and allowed its assistants to choreograph dance routines which they then performed to shoppers.

For its 20th birthday celebrations in 1996 the centre celebrated in style with an event featuring catwalk models wearing the latest fashions with music by local performers. …