Landmark Wakefield shopping centre celebrates 40 years
The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield, which celebrates its 40th anniversary today, was inspired by buildings that Wakefield Council’s chief planning officer, Peter Spawforth, had visited in America and Canada.
It took four years to complete and was built with a unique design so that shoppers could enter and exit from the street on all levels.
The centre boasted the first food court in the UK and the first glass wall climber lift, which was an exact copy of those in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta.
It was so popular that people would queue up to use it and the centre had to employ someone on busy days specifically to ride the lift to ensure priority was given to those less able to use the steps or escalators.
More than 4,000 people walked through the doors on the Sunday before the official opening, even though it was before Sunday trading hours were introduced and they couldn’t shop.
The following year, the Ridings Centre was named European Shopping Centre of the Year, an accolade it went on to win for the next decade.
The water feature which surrounded the bottom of the glass lift at the Ridings Centre attracted a lot of interest from shoppers.
The lift was a tourist attraction in itself. The cleaning team used to have to ride up and down on the top of the lift to carry out the cleaning of the pod and the glass surround.
Now boasting its own cinema, newly opened shops, a new play area and many more plans in the making, the centre has high hopes.
Zahid Iqbal, owner of The Ridings said: “We are proud that the centre has served the people of Wakefield for the last 40 years.
"We are even prouder to be the custodians of its future, we have already seen an influx of new traders including the return of old favourites like Miss Siama and The Patio Bar Cafe as well as new retailers including Toyland, due to open later this month.
"Alone with the new adventure play area, current and new refurbishments, and more planned leisure, we know The Ridings will be around for another 40 years.”
This Saturday, the centre is inviting everyone to join them for a big celebration.
Offering free parking, there will be free cupcakes by La Cupcakes and Fudge Wakefield including a gluten-free option by The Gluten Free Bakery. There will also be free balloons, candy floss, giveaways and face painting, Star Wars characters courtesy of Sentinel Squad UK, superhero characters and baby dinosaur, courtesy of Red Cape a balloon modeller from LT Entertainment, an appearance by centre mascot BeeBop, DJ Hasan Ehsanullah, curated makers fayre, by Little Hummingbird Events and a special appearance by Rate My Takeaway’s Danny Malin.