40 Years of Queensgate

Forty Years of Queensgate

In the late summer of 1976, planning permission was granted for a new purpose-built shopping centre in the heart of Peterborough.

In November of the same year, the John Lewis Partnership announced they had agreed to be the anchor store for the development, marking the company’s return to the city after an absence of over twenty five years.

Andy Cole, a financial surveyor who saw the project from start to finish shares some of his experiences:
“Once we had agreed a figure, a cheque would appear sometime later and it was my job to deliver it to the National Westminster Bank and handover £14 to have it telegraphically transferred to Carlisle – this was ‘cash flow’ 1980 style.

One month I stood on Cathedral Square with a cheque for three million pounds in my pocket.” – Andy Cole On the 9th March 1982 the Queensgate Centre opened, followed by an official opening ceremony by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on the 18th or November of the same year. Whether it was Walkmans, crimped hair and yuppies in the 80’s, hip-hop grunge and the worldwide web in the 90’s, social networks and Harry Potter in the noughties or Tik-Tok and the Kardashians in the last decade, Queensgate has remained a focal point at the heart of the city.
This exhibition presents a visual journey through the last four decades, charting the changing faces of the Queensgate Centre over its forty year history. Today the centre continues to evolve and respond to the needs of the Peterborough community.

In 2022, Empire Cinemas will be the new anchor tenant in a new £60 million extension, with a new food court and several new stores on the way.

With special thanks to Chris Porsz, Andy Cole, peterboroughimages.co.uk and everyone else involved in capturing Queensgate over the years. See more of Chris’ work at www.chrisporsz.com

 

 

 

 

Construction begins with the formation of walls

Looking east with the back of Westgate arcade and the Still P.H. visible. The east end of John Lewis abuts existing Westgate buildings

Construction of the car parks

An aerial image showing: John Lewis near left at one storey high, The central area raising from ground level and the basement tunnel and excavations. The old post office building is still there and the Peterborough Telegraph offices are yet to be built. The site offices are tight against the Bourges Boulevard roundabout. The car parks have yet to be built

The construction of the New Bridge across the Nene in August 1983. This structure has this year been undergoing structural repairs including to its foundations. There is currently a steel pile cofferdam in place

Blocks of tar being melted down to be used in the construction, specifically on the roof

Materials arrive on-site for cement works

Workers taking a well earned break from the construction of Queensgate

Man with walking stick on Cathedral Square outside hoardings before the clearing of the site occurred

Construction of Queensgate basement begins

The construction underway

 

Construction of Queensgate basement begins

Looking across the Queensgate site from Long Causeway with Peterborough hospital in the distance

An extract from the John Laing Construction Staff paper ‘Team Spirit, August, 1979’

Construction in action

 

A member of the public taking a seat in Central Square

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands enjoying a display of Morris dancing at the official opening

Queensgate being officially opened to the public by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1982

Going up! The glass sided lift at the centre

Don Miller’s, the Greggs of the day, serving everything from fresh bread to cakes and hot pizza

Crowds of shoppers enjoying their day in the centre

Trendy girls compare fashions in the mid eighties

Punks checking out some new books in Virgin

Advert for Visionhire featuring some of the latest tech of the times

Security guard chats to two youngsters in the centre

Young love! Couple sit on the fountains edge in Central Square

An early example of a promotional leaflet including the mall map

Queensgate’s first Christmas tree in 1982

Shoppers take a well-earned sit down after a days shopping

Christmas graphics from an early gift guide

A scene of a busy Central Square

Boys browse a toy display at John Lewis

Groups gather in the 80’s heyday with Queensgate the destination of choice

Drawing of Central Square as it was when it opened, a work of art!

Fashion forward since the 80s! We have always loved a fun fashion event at Queensgate

Pose! A group of teens try and give their best blue steel

 

A busy day of Christmas shopping

C&A seen here in the background was one of the six original anchors, without which the development couldn’t be started

Security guards keeping order in the centre

Make a wish! Pennies in the fountain. Who remembers these?

Schoolgirls meet up for a gossip and a snack in the centre

Crawford’s, one of the original tenants, serves lunch to hungry shoppers in East Mall

Queensgate bus station was constructed at the same time as the centre. It’s previous home was on The Embankment

Advert for a fashion event

Friends hang out in a very festive Queensgate

Queensgate guide from the era

The Clock, manufactured by Handley and Moore of London in 1806, strikes on the hour. Previously the clock was located in East Square and was a meeting point for many

 

Chatting at Crawford’s

Sunday opening announcement 1996

Feature on men’s clothing from a Queensgate publication

Shoppers browsing the book shop in East Square

Festive feature from a Queensgate publication

Car park attendant in her booth before the automated system was introduced

A scene of Central Square

Feature from 1998 including ‘the hottest new fashion accessory’ – the mobile phone!

An everyday scene in Queensgate in the Nineties

 

The grand opening of Primark in 2012 as hundreds queue up to get their hands on the hottest looks

People queuing outside for the Primark opening

Friends meeting up in Queensgate for a chat

 

Alan Kelly, right, was playing in the toy department at John Lewis in Peterborough while his parents were shopping. Ron Moore, standing in the middle, did not know Alan but grew up in the same area.

Alan now has four children and works as a warehouse supervisor. Alan, whose partner Anne-Marie Day, stood in for the girl in the reunion photo, said, “I think I was about 13 and having a free play in the shop.” Ron Moore, later moved away to Nottingham and Glasgow, but has now returned to Peterborough and now works as a graphic designer.

 

East Square then, 1982

East Square now, 2022; with the addition of the Krispy Kreme stand

 

Punk Trudy Larkinson is pictured in Queensgate Shopping Centre with friends John Lee and Aileen Killingworth. Trudy, who was 19 at the time, said, “A gang of us used to hang out there on Saturday afternoons, it brings back some good memories.”

Trudy, who dressed as a punk until she was in her 20s, is now a hairdresser in Peterborough, has two children and enjoys running. She became Facebook friends with Aileen after they met again for the reunion photo. Aileen, who is a full time carer and married with three children, added, “There was nothing much for youngsters to do so we used to hang out at the shopping centre and chat.”

 

Central Square then, 1982; with Reflections coffee shop in the balcony

Central Square now, 2022. The seating area and fountains have been removed and replaced with an open space for events and activities