On Saturday 29th July, The Mill Gate will be celebrating its 25th birthday. There’ll be all sorts of activities going on over at the shopping centre itself but we thought we’d have a mini-celebration by sharing some images of how the area used to look – from cobbled streets, to paved-over precincts to shiny tiled floors. Let’s take a look:
Everyone loves a cobbled street, so here is the entrance to Princess Street with the Royal Cinema to the right and the Queens Hotel on the left. c1960s.
And from the same perspective a few decades later.
Before the Mill Gate Shopping Centre was constructed, the main shopping area in Bury was dominated by The Precinct. This consisted of a network of pedestrianised shopping areas with predominately two-storey grey concrete units. An early 1990s’ report made by the Council described it as ‘an unattractive, austere environment which has undoubtedly discouraged shoppers and additional investment’.
How to entice shoppers? Well for a start Bury needed to attract more quality retailers such as BHS, C&A and W.H. Smiths – if anyone from Bury wanted to visit these stores they would have to nip over to Manchester or Bolton. As the central retail area of Bury had a low vacancy rate it was obvious that the Precinct’s shopping floor area had to be extended to accommodate more units. And if Bolton and Manchester had their beautifully covered areas such as Crompton Place and The Arndale Centre then Bury should have them too!
Work on the £6 million redevelopment for Bury Town Centre began in May 1991 and Buryites eagerly awaited their glazed-over bright and airy shopping mall which was fully completed just over a year later.