This is a journey from the corner shop to the high street, by the banks of the Bridgewater Canal, a whole retail history told during troubled times.
The Trafford Centre opened in 1998 and is the third largest shopping centre in the United Kingdom by retail size. It was developed by the Peel Group and is owned by Intu Properties following a £1.65 billion sale in 2011 the largest single property acquisition in British history. As of 2017, the centre has a market value of £2.312 billion.
The advent of the motor car, and the development of out of town shopping has seriously affected the viability of the traditional town centre and the almost long gone local shop.
And now in turn the mall is threatened by the increase in online trade and the current lockdown.
The Trafford Centre reopens on June 15th, no doubt the sensation seeking, thrill a moment shoppers will return in droves, to further satiate their unquenchable desire for stuff and more stuff, in a pseudo Romano Soviet oligarch setting.
As of Monday 8th the space was mostly devoid of both customers and cars – there are two home stores open, we arrived on foot and took a look around.
We live in strange and troubled times, the urban landscapes we have created are often far from convivial.
Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time. It’s no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.
I had time to kill – in search of early Sunday morning visual thrills.
I took to the mean streets of Steeltown UK.
Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.
The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.
It was 8am – low bright sun pierced the achingly empty space between the long high industrial buildings.
There was nobody to share the morning – yet the clearly audible kling and klang of work pervaded the air, along with the lingering aroma of engine oil and decay.