The new Metrocentre opens in Gateshead and a retail revolution 35 years ago

Thirty-five years ago, Tyneside’s ongoing retail revolution was persevering with apace.

If Newcastle’s sprawling Eldon Square buying precinct had already been in operation for a decade, on Wednesday, April 23, 1986, the doorways of the Metrocentre in Gateshead opened for the primary time.

Today it might be termed a “smooth launch” and the new centre, occupying 100 acres, would not be absolutely up and working till October.

The Chronicle reported: “The North East’s revolutionary buying venture opened its doorways for a preview.

“The first large retailer, the 128,000 sq ft Carrefour Hypermarket opens quickly, and bosses have been overwhelmed by the standard of workers making use of for the 600 jobs on the retailer.

“Security on the centre, which is able to create 6,000 jobs, was extraordinarily tight with safety males and police checking guests.”

The centre would turn into “the largest buying and leisure advanced in Europe”, offering a enormous enhance for an ailing area the place conventional industries have been dying and unemployment was hovering.

The brains behind the vastly formidable venture was John Hall – later to be Sir John – and his Cameron Hall firm.

As the primary part of the £150m Metrocentre was unveiled, Mr Hall stated: “What you see is simply one-tenth of what we have now in retailer for the long run. It is among the proudest days of my life.

“Just a few years ago this website was derelict. Now it’s set to pump new life into the area.”


The Metrocentre in Gateshead takes form. It first opened its doorways in April, 1986

Seven years in the planning, the Metrocentre had taken form on the positioning of a former energy station’s waterlogged ash dump in Dunston.

The idea, planning and design of the advanced coated the wants of the client in each element. The intention was to supply a buying and leisure centre that mixed the very best of North American innovation with many years of European buying custom.

Back in April 1986, we reported: “Among the High Street giants which have pledged their help for the scheme are Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser, Burtons, Russel Bromley, the British Shoe Corporation and John Menzies.

“When absolutely operational, the advanced can have a predominant mall the size of Newcastle’s famed Northumberland Street.”

These have been early days for the Metrocentre and the new 250,000 sq ft Red Mall was simply part one.

Phase two, the 110,000 sq ft Green Mall, would start in October. In 1987, part three would see the new Blue and Yellow Malls open, in addition to a bus station, multi-storey automotive park, railway station and UCI cinema.

Those who have been peckish would quickly be heading to the Clockworks meals courtroom the place Nineteen Eighties cafe favourites included Wok ‘N Roll and Simply Salad. And in February 1988, a new £20m enjoyable park known as Metroland would open.

Thirty-five years later, the Metrocentre is a North East establishment, and tens of millions of us have shopped, eaten out and gone to the cinema there down the many years.

And now in 2021 after a vastly difficult interval for many sectors, together with retail, the Metrocentre has unveiled the primary stage of its rebirth together with a daring new brand, branding and promoting marketing campaign.

Shoppers visiting the Red Mall would be the first to see the eye-catching new-look signage as the primary set up takes centre stage over the primary entrance.


The rebranded Metrocentre in April 2021. The Gateshead advanced first opened its doorways 35 years ago

The buying vacation spot, taken over by Sovereign Centros in October 2020, has been by means of a interval of transformation which incorporates a full rebrand in addition to ongoing refurbishment plans.

Chief Executive of Sovereign Centros, Chris Geaves, stated: “During lockdown the staff have been working onerous behind the scenes to create a very particular reopening marketing campaign that includes centre retailers, highlighting the superb and hardworking workers that make Metrocentre such a great spot to go to.”

The marketing campaign will characteristic some acquainted faces from throughout the centre with among the unique unbiased retailers who have been buying and selling when it opened in 1986.

Michael Orange, proprietor of household enterprise Sweets Galore, stated: “It’s nice to see Metrocentre returning to its roots. We have been the primary unbiased household owned enterprise to open on the centre and have been certainly one of six retailers buying and selling on day one, all these years ago. Metrocentre is in my DNA and there may be nowhere else in the North East I’d reasonably be.”

Pamela Jewitt, proprietor of Paris Dress House in the Red Mall, added: “I’ve operated at Metrocentre since 1988 once I first opened a leisure-wear clothes retailer in the Blue Mall. We have seen a lot of adjustments over the years and I’m wanting ahead to the following chapter for the centre.”

Here’s to the following 35 years on the Metrocentre.

Don’t miss our Memory Lane native historical past web site that is full of archive images and has an easy-to-use image colourisation software.