Friday 12 April 2024
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Pictures: Victoria Centre team unearths 50 years of memories

Nottingham’s Victoria Centre team has unearthed an extensive collection of photographs, brochures and other memorabilia dating back to 1972 as the centre continues to celebrate its 50th birthday. 


Celebrations kicked-off with shoppers being invited to share their memories of the last five decades.

Now it’s time for the centre to share its own memories, through a collection of newly-discovered photographs.


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The archive stretches back to the centre’s visit from the Duchess of Kent, in an official plaque unveiling on 14 October 1969 to commemorate the centre’s work beginning, and moves right through to the noughties revealing the launch of new brands and visits from various famous faces, including musician David Essex.

VictoriaCentre DuchessOfKent Archive

At its opening in 1972, guests were spoiled for choice with 100 retailers to choose from, many of which are captured in the archive’s black and white photographs, and include Jessop & Son (now John Lewis & Partners), Van Allen and Habitat, Debenhams, Miss Selfridge, Mothercare and Halfords.

VictoriaCentre Exterior Archive 2 scaled

Also in the collection are photographs of the opening of the food court in 1985, led by Mayor David Tongue and accompanied by the centre manager, Clive Kaye.


Other memorable events like seasonal décor changes, fashion shows and the arrival of the Snake climbing frame were archived, showcasing the passing of time and the popularity of the centre as a place to gather.


Just as the brands have changed through time, so too has the centre’s interior.


Described as “the first large shopping complex of its kind in Britain” in the centre’s ‘Spring Opening’ brochure from February 1972, the centre featured ‘terrazzo tiles and walls, and column surfaces with mosaic’ in line with the decade’s burgeoning trend.


As well as showcasing the centre’s changing interior, moving away from warm honey and rich brown shades to the turquoise, pale pinks and mirrored columns of the early 1980s, the archive also includes images of the much-adored Emett Clock.


Designed by Rowland Emett in 1970, and cited in the brochure as the centre’s ‘extra special attraction’, the feature was predicted to be a place where ‘children, their Mums and Grandmas, and no doubt Dad, will gather on the hour and a half to see and listen to the unfolding of its delights’.

VictoriaCentre EmettClock Archive scaled

Following the restoration of its 12 original fountains and now in its new home on the upper mall, the feature continues to be recognised as a meeting place for friends and family, serving as a continual reminder of the centre’s history.


Commenting on the archive’s discovery, centre director at Victoria Centre, Nigel Wheatley, said:


“The photo archive has been a really exciting discovery for our team, especially as our 50th birthday gets ever closer. We’ve been busy working our way through the collection, documenting the events, noting down dates and reliving some of the memories with our team – some of whom have been with us since the early days.


“We’ve seen images of Christmases gone by, charity events and fashion shows, and have been lucky enough to find an original brochure from the actual opening of the centre back in 1972. It’s been fascinating to read through and understand just how much the centre, and our shoppers, have changed over the course of those five decades. And, equally, we’ve seen how we’ve remained faithful to some of the its original features like the Emett Clock and the beloved Clocktower.


“Our upcoming 50th celebrations will be the perfect opportunity to make another 50 years of memories.”

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