Metrocentre is a shopping centre in the United Kingdom. It holds the title of largest shopping centre in Europe. Located in Gateshead on a former industrial site, close to the River Tyne. Metrocentre opened in stages with the first phase opening on 28 April 1986 and the official opening was on 14 October 1986. It has over 340 shops occupying 168,900 m2 (1.818 million square feet) of retail floor space. Additional retail space is available in the adjoining retail park which houses larger shops.Origins
Metrocentre has five main malls; red, green, blue, yellow and central. It also has themed shopping areas; The Village, formerly known as the Antiques Village, The Forum, formerly known as the Roman Forum, and The Studio, formerly known as the Mediterranean Village, and houses over 50 restaurants and cafes.
The first phase of Metrocentre was opened on 28th April 1986 - the red mall. At the time it featured a large Carrefour supermarket, which later became Gateway and subsequently Asda - an identical pattern followed by the Merry Hill Carrefour which opened in the same year. Metrocentre also featured the first out of town Marks & Spencer.
In the 1990s, Asda moved from Metrocentre to a larger stand-alone store nearby, facilitating the redevelopment of the Red Mall.
Metrocentre's construction was financed by the Church Commissioners of England, and was masterminded by Sir John Hall's company, Cameron Hall Developments, the ground upon which it is built was purchased for a mere £100,000 in the early '70s. Access to the development was facilitated by an urban development grant from the Department of the Environment and the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. In October 1995, the centre was sold to Capital Shopping Centres for £364m, although the Church Commissioners retained a 10% stake.
Reflecting its Church of England origins, Metrocentre is one of the few European shopping centres to have its own chapel and resident full-time chaplain. Services are held on Sunday afternoons, with special services on occasions such as Mothering Sunday and Remembrance Sunday.Refurbishment
Malls and Transport Interchange
ASDA's move out of the main centre was planned so that its former store could be demolished to make way for an extension and refurbishment of the Red Mall. The new Red Mall, anchored by a new Debenhams department store, opened on 6 October 2004. A consequence of the expansion was that Metrocentre regained its crown as Britain's largest shopping centre, which it had lost to Bluewater in 1999.
The refurbishment programme also included a new Public Transport Interchange at the end of the Blue Mall. It replaced the old bus station and was intended to provide improved bus links to many parts of North East England and accommodate coach services from elsewhere in the UK. The new interchange features electronic display boards and a new waiting room at the MetroCentre railway station. Metrocentre is not directly connected to the Tyne & Wear Metro System though regular bus shuttle services provide connections to Monument, Central Station and Gateshead Metro stations. The main line rail link also provides direct access to neighbouring Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. (see Transport Links below).Metrocentre Qube
On 30 November 2006, centre owner Capital Shopping Centres announced plans to redevelop the centre's Yellow Mall. The Metroland indoor funfair closed in 2008 and the area has been reconstructed to become the Metrocentre Qube. With the first phase completed, the Qube contains branches of YO! Sushi and Pizza Express. A new Odeon cinema(relocated from the Blue Mall)opened in December 2009 and includes 12 digital screens including multiple 3D screens and an IMAX Digital, the first in the north east of England. The NAMCO FUN SCAPE is a family entertainment centre (including a new ten-pin bowling alley) and an assortment of restaurants including Nando's. The Qube exterior is made from clad zinc and glass to distinguish it as the entertainment part of the centre.Shops and food/drink
Many large retail chains are represented in the centre. It is anchored by 3 main department stores:
- Marks and Spencer (their first out of town store)
- House of Fraser
Major fashion retailers include British Home Stores, Next, Primark, Topshop/Topman, H&M, New Look, River Island, Zara, USC, Lacoste, All Saints, Van Mildert, Tucci, Laura Ashley, Karen Millen, Kurt Geiger, French Connection, Guess, G-Star RAW and JD Sports. In late 2011, the third Forever 21 store is due to open in the UK at Metrocentre.
Other major retailers include Argos, HMV, W H Smith, Jessops, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Modelzone and Lush. In Autumn 2010 the first TK Maxx/Homesense opened on the site of the old Odeon cinema in the Blue Mall.
On 25 September 2010 the region's second Apple Store was opened at Metrocentre.
The majority of restaurants are located in the MetroCentre Qube, a recently redeveloped area in the Yellow Mall containing bars and restaurants. These include Zizzi, Frankie and Benny's, Nandos, Pizza Express, Big Lukes, Yo! Sushi and in 2011, Wagamama. Other restaurants located in the centre include McDonald's, Pizza Hut , KFC , Burger King and Wetherspoons.Leisure facilities
The centre's leisure facilities consist of a 12 screen Odeon cinema opened in 2010, with VIP lounge and an IMAX screen, and the Namco Funscape, which is an indoor amusement arcarde including a dodgem ride and 18 lane 10-pin bowling alley. All of these facilities are located in the MetroCentre Qube area of the redeveloped Yellow Mall. The Odeon cinema was originally located in the Blue Mall.Former leisure facilities
Until its closure on 20 April 2008, Metrocentre featured an entirely enclosed theme park called Metroland. Renamed The New Metroland following a refurbishment by operators Arlington Leisure in 1996, it was Europe's largest indoor amusement park. Metroland opened in February 1988 at a cost of £20 million. The park featured a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, pirate ship, waltzers, a minature railway and dodgem cars among its rides. Its closure made way for redevelopment of the Yellow Mall, including a new Odeon cinema, replacing the existing multiplex in the Blue Mall. On the final weekend of operation (19 & 20 April 2008) the park held the 'Last Ride weekend' where the admission price was £5 for the whole day with unlimited access to all the rides. The park finally closed at 8:00pm on Sunday 20 April, despite strong local opposition and petitions raising around 4,000 signatures against the closure. Proceeds from the last night of operation went to charity.Metro Retail Park
The Metro Retail Park is situated to the west of Metrocentre. It has the layout of a conventional out of town retail park, with large stores such as Barker and Stonehouse, Toys R Us, NEXT Home and Pets at Home. McDonald's and Pizza Hut are both situated to the south of the Retail Park site (in addition to other sites for both restaurants in Metrocentre itself). Until August 2007 the retail park was not actually under the ownership of the Metrocentre Partnership; it was purchased for £82.5 million.Transport links
Metrocentre's transport interchange was rebuilt in the mid-1990s with an enclosed waiting area and new access ramps reserved exclusively for buses and taxis. It is connected to Gateshead Metro station by the regular X66 MetroCentre Shuttle bus service and to Newcastle Central Station via the centre's own National Rail station on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.
Major bus links include:
- X66 - Centrelink - A non-stop shuttle service operated by Go North East connecting the MetroCentre with Gateshead Interchange, for links to the Metro and Gateshead Quays.
- 100 - A shuttle service operated by Stagecoach North East connecting the MetroCentre with Newcastle's Eldon Square bus station, the Grey's Monument area on Pilgrim Street and Newcastle Central railway station.
- S1/S2 - Local shuttle services serving the MetroCentre complex and the surrounding retail park, as well as the Watermark development, it is run by Classic Buses.
- 10/10A - TEN10 Limited Stop Shuttle serving Blaydon to the west and Newcastle to the east. It is run by Go North East and provides links to Crawcrook, Newcastle, Blaydon and Hexham.
- 43/44 - Diamond - Four hourly bus service from Durham City - Stanley - Metro centre and Newcastle. It is run by Go North East.
- 45/46 - The Red Kite - Four Hourly bus service to Consett via the Derwent Valley. It is run by Go North East
- 96/96A/97 - The Highwayman - Frequent services serving the surrounding villages and Gateshead town. It is run by Go North East
Metrocentre railway station is on the Tyne Valley Line, which provides regular services to Newcastle Central station, Sunderland Central, Carlisle, Middlesbrough and Northumberland, with a twice daily service to Glasgow, Scotland, via Dumfries.Road
Metrocentre has its own junction on the A1 road and northbound this road was widened to three lanes after Metrocentre was built to cope with increased traffic levels. Even so the centre is responsible for many journeys onto the A1, a road which through Gateshead suffers from significant congestion at peak times.Air and sea
National and international visitors can reach the centre via air using Newcastle Airport. Alternatively, it is possible to travel by ferry to North Shields from Scandinavia and the Netherlands.