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Eldon Square Shopping Centre

department store, shopping, shops, shopping mall

Eldon Square is a shopping centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It was officially opened in 1977. Eldon Square was also the name applied to a terrace development on the same site, designed by John Dobson in about 1824 and partially demolished in the 1960s, with the eastern terrace left standing.

The centre has been rebranded as intu Eldon Square as of 15 April 2013 following the renaming of parent Capital Shopping Centres Group plc as "intu properties plc".

Development and architectural design

Eldon Square Shopping Centre was opened in 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II and is named after the original Eldon Square (now known as Old Eldon Square) which the shopping centre was built around. Eldon Square was at the time the biggest indoor shopping mall in Britain, covering a large portion of Newcastle city centre.

The main building is split in two halves, the northern part being separated from the southern part by Blackett Street. The Blackett Bridge walkway, which crosses Blackett Street near Grey's Monument, connects both sides of the centre. Most of the structure is built in textured brown brick and mirror glass.

The bottom level houses roadways for HGV trucks to deliver to shops in the malls above, and until recently these roadways also included an underground bus concourse. Loading bays are linked to shopping areas by freight elevators, while passenger lifts and escalators took people from the bus concourse to the Mall. Most of the mall levels are located on the upper level but some slope up from street level such as the entrance from Northumberland Street.

Some of the shopping malls are named after elements of local culture; notably Chevy Chase is named after the medieval Northumbrian Ballad of Chevy Chase, and Douglas Way is named after the Scottish Earl of Douglas who takes a prominent role in the aforementioned ballad. Water features were originally seen in some large courts or squares, however as a result of subsequent renovations, these have all been removed.

On top of the northern part of the building is a car parking deck reached from Percy Street via an eight storey spiral-shaped multi-storey car park and a high concrete bridge. This upper parking deck is reached from the malls by lifts or stairs within the John Lewis department store. The flagship Fenwick department store is also attached to the centre.

The Green Market, which was situated in the southern part of the centre was demolished in 2007 as part of redevelopment works. As a result, the market shops, rotisserie and wet fish shop have been relocated to the nearby Grainger Market. The Green Market was also linked to a Safeway supermarket (formerly Presto and originally Hintons) at street level, however this was demolished along with the market.

Above the shopping malls, is a leisure centre called Eldon Leisure. This features various fitness studios, squash courts and a large sports hall, suitable for a range of indoor sports, including basketball and tennis. The southern part of the complex links to the underground Monument Metro station. Metro trains provide links around Tyne & Wear and to the mainline Newcastle Central railway station.

The opening of the MetroCentre in nearby Gateshead during 1986 provided competition for Eldon Square, however, both are now owned by intu Properties (intu Eldon Square in a joint venture with Newcastle City Council, thus resolving any potential conflicts). Unlike MetroCentre which has glass roofed shopping malls allowing in some natural daylight, the Eldon malls were initially completely covered. In the late 1980s, the southernmost tip of intu Eldon Square shopping complex had a food court built, which was later converted into an Argos store. An adjoining mall called Eldon Garden (owned by a different company) was built during the same period, in a more contemporary style than the main centre.

Intu Eldon Square takes up much of the land space in the city centre. Many British city centres have such large developments, such as The Bull Ring in Birmingham, The Arndale Centre in Manchester and Trinity Leeds and the under construction Victoria Gate in Leeds.

Before intu Eldon Square Shopping Centre

Intu Eldon Square Shopping Centre occupies an area close to the old town wall, which followed the course of Blackett Street. This means the modern shopping centre is built on either side of where the wall once stood. From a map drawn by Charles Hutton in 1770, it appears that the ancient wall would have run parallel with the south side of Blacket street. This is the northernmost wall of the South portion of the shopping centre.

As the city would have grown within its town walls, just south of the north wall was the Nunn's Garden. This is around the location of the now demolished Green Market. The Nunn's Garden was bordered by High Friar Chare, a street running almost in-line with 'High Friars way' in the present shopping centre. Wards in this area were named after the towers which guarded the ancient town walls. The wards occupying the south portion of the shopping centre would have been 'Andrew Tower ward' site of Newgate multi-storey car park (now demolished)and Eldon Leisure. 'Fickett Tower ward', is below where Eldon Leisure is located in the present megastructure, and 'Bertram Momboucher Tower ward' is located where the now demolished Eldon food courts and Newgate car park once stood.

North of the town walls Charles Hutton's 1770 map shows a Bowling Green on the site of the present day Marks & Spencer, John Lewis part of the megastructure and Prudhoe Street car park. The area presently occupied by the Northumberland Street entrance to the centre and Fenwicks were in 1770 market vegetable gardens. That would have been south of the Bowling Green.

Redevelopment and reconstruction (2005 – present)

Reconstruction work began in June 2005 to convert the former bus station into a new lower mall, which houses Argos and Waitrose as anchor tenants. The new Eldon Square bus station opened on 18 March 2007 between John Lewis and Haymarket bus station. It features a series of glass screens designed by the artist, Dan Savage.

The former Green Market also closed and was demolished to make way for Eldon Square South, a new mall with a Debenhams department store as the anchor tenant. Intu Eldon Square South opened at 1030 on 16 February 2010 where other new tenants include an Apple Store, making intu Eldon Square the UK's largest city centre shopping complex once again, a title previously held by Manchester Arndale. The New Green Market at High Friars opened in March 2007, with its entrance on Nelson Street. This proved short-lived and closed in 2011 to make way for a new retail store Urban Outfitters, which opens out onto Grainger Street and is no longer connected to the mall.

The former Arcadia Group stores adjacent to Blackett Bridge have been turned into a large three-storey store for Next which opened in May 2011.

As of November 2013, the refurbishment of the centre to bring it up to the same standard as the new St. Andrew's Way mall is ongoing, with the replacement of the ceilings nearing completion. The Northumberland Street entrance has been demolished, and the new entrance is expected to be completed in early 2014.

The next phase of the redevelopment is the creation of a new dining quarter in the current Sidgate and High Friars malls. This will consist of 21 restaurant units, and work is expected to commence in early 2014, with an expected opening Easter 2015.

Notable stores

Anchor Tenants:

  • Debenhams
  • John Lewis
  • Next

Intu Eldon Square also has main entrances to:

  • Marks & Spencer, one of the most profitable Marks & Spencer stores outside London, with the most profitable food hall in the company.
  • Fenwick, flagship store and headquarters of the up-market chain. One of the largest department stores in the UK.

Popular culture

Eldon Square is mentioned in the song "Samantha Pope" by Honeycrack.

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