Once upon a time the future was shop-shaped and utopian, the Modernist reliefs a welcome relief from post-war doom and gloom, public decorative art was off the ration for good, or so it seemed. Small retail units, housed small local operators, their shiny well-washed fascias, glowing with graphic pride and diversity, slab serif and decorative script the order of the day.
Architects J Seymour Harris and Partners envisaged a brave new water-coloured open-aired world for the grey austerity-tinted folk of Preston.
And lo it came to pass and underpass – the future was here yesterday.
Get off the bus on Fishergate and walk right on in.
The shopping centre opened on 22 March 1966 as St George’s Shopping Centre.
It was originally an open air centre, and was roofed over during refurbishment in 1981. It was further refurbished in 1999.
In May 2004, when The Mall Company took over the centre, they were greeted with an ageing shopping centre. The shopping centre was rebranded as The Mall, and a massive development scheme was planned. Small stalls, main shops, cafes, restaurants, toilets, and escalators were overhauled.
In March 2010, the shopping centre was acquired by Aviva Investors for £87 million. In September 2010, The Mall was rebranded under its original name St George’s Shopping Centre.
So welcome back to today – stripped of distinctive decoration, covered in and given the international sheen of absolutely nowhere at all.
In intemperate template for the future.
Archival images from the Preston Digital Archive and Peter Reed.