St George’s Shopping Centre – Preston

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.



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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.







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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.


Preston Indoor Market

Built in 1973 scheduled to be closed and demolished in ten days time.

The future is not so red rosey for yet another traditional local market.

A typically boxy arrangement of steel, concrete, asbestos glass and brick, the complex of trading units, stalls and parking is not without charm. Though as with many other developments of its type, it seems to be without friends, then inevitably without customers and traders.

Following a template originated at London’s Borough Market, developers and councils seem to favour the modern artisan over the proletarian . This concept when meshed with the multi-plex and chain restaurant/bar amalgam, provides a shiny new future, for the shiny new shape of all our retail and leisure needs.


So ta-ta to another world of hats and socks, fruit and veg, workwear for workers.

You’ve just about time to pop in for a brew.

Two sugars, stirred not shaken.

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County Archives – Preston

The things that you see from a passing train, those things that arouse your curiosity.

Blackpool bound, to the left a horizontal slab on stilts.

Well, well.

Whatever could that be?

Well we shall see, shall we?

Some days later alighting at Preston Station, I hotfooted it hurriedly down the road to who knows where.

Peeping coyly from behind the surrounding trees, in the shadow of County Hall – the Lancashire Archives, yet more of Roger Booth’s handiwork.

A low stone clad block stood elegantly on slender supports, inside the courtyard, a grid of aluminium and glass, the people peeping out. The core of the building shrouded in a solid serrated brick screen.

It really is a treat.

Go see for yourself

The Lancashire Archives