Shoe shop Foot Locker in The Ridings in 1991.Shoe shop Foot Locker in The Ridings in 1991.
Shoe shop Foot Locker in The Ridings in 1991.

40 years of The Ridings: Explore Wakefield's award-winning shopping centre in 1991

Take a trip down memory lane. Here’s 14 ‘retro’ pictures exploring Wakefield’s award-winning Ridings Shopping Centre as it celebrates its 40th birthday today.

The landmark city centre retail mall first opened its doors on October 17, 1983.

The centre was among the first of its kind in the UK, containing features such as a food court, inspired by American shopping centres; the first glass wall climber lift, which was an exact copy of those in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta; and served as a template for other national shopping centres.

The Ridings centre was massively popular upon opening, with queues forming on the streets.

The following year, the centre went on to win the title of European Shopping Centre of the Year, a title it went on to win for the next decade.

The centre was extensively refurbished in 2008 at a cost of £2.5 million.

The improvements included a redesign of the centre's entrances as well as new lifts, which replaced the original glass wall-climber lift.

In 2015, The Ridings was bought by investment company NewRiver Retail and given a £5m makeover.

However, in recent times since the makeover, several shops within the centre have closed, despite the opening of a new food court and cinema, with high street retailers struggling, especially during the pandemic, to cope.

Despite this, The Ridings was purchased by the Leeds-based property developer, Zahid Iqbal earlier this year, who is currently in the middle of a massive redevelopment of the centre.

Following years of uncertainty about the future of the Wakefield centre, the Yorkshire businessman shared his hopes of bringing business back to the once award-winning shopping centre, after buying it back in March.

Since its purchase, plans have been announced to modernise The Ridings, whilst ensuring it remains as the heart of the city, including the opening of an indoor adventure park and the announcement of an outdoor area, set to open next year.

The centre will celebrate its milestone birthday this weekend, by hosting a free joint birthday and relauch party for locals on Saturday, October 21.

These old photos are from 1991. Share your memories and pictures of Wakefield from ‘back in the day’ with us via email: [email protected]