Morecambe's Arndale Centre celebrates its golden anniversary

Morecambe’s Arndale Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary this week and historian Peter Wade looks back on its history.

By Peter Wade
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 12:37 pm

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.

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The demolition of the Royalty Theatre to make way for the Arndale Centre in Morecambe.

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.

Arndale Centre, Morecambe (unknown date but probably late seventies).

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

Members of the Rainbow centre Dolls House and Miniatures Club from Morecambe put on a display in the Arndale centre in aid of Age Concern (left to right) Janet Guffog, Renee Smith, Barbara Vollands, and Helen Huntington. This picture was taken in 2001.

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

Shopping in The Arndale Centre in Morecambe in 2010.

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

The wonder of Christmas...two-year-old Alfie Brahney from Morecambe dmires the moving elves display outside Santa's grotto in the Arndale Centre. This picture was taken in 2009.

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

Square, London.

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.

Santa and TV antiques expert Paul Hayes (far right) with members of the public and staff at the Arndale Centre in Morecambe's recent Christmas lights switch-on. This picture was taken in 2009.