ON THIS DAY: 2006: New look Frenchgate Centre and interchange opens

The Frenchgate Centre in the 1980s.

The Frenchgate Centre in the 1980s.

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Ten years ago today, shopping in Doncaster entered a bright new era as the revamped Frenchgate Centre and transport interchange opened to the public for the very first time.

It was on June 8, 2006 that the £200 million development was first unveiled to an excited public, with hundreds of shoppers rushing to catch a glimpse of the sparkling new malls and major new retailers for the town such as Debenhams.

The Doncaster branch of Woolworths in St Sepulchre Gate.

The Doncaster branch of Woolworths in St Sepulchre Gate.

The regeneration programme, which came after years of building work and demolition of buildings such as the North Bus Station, Gresley House and the Trades and Labour Club, saw Frenchgate almost double in size to comprise an area of 750,000 sq ft.

Rather than focus on the centre’s revamp a decade ago however, we are taking a step even further back to its predecessor, the complex which started it all and for which a certain generation of Doncastrians will forever be known as the Arndale Centre.

It was in 1967 that the then state of the art mall, fresh out of America, brought shopping under one roof to Doncaster for the first time.

It was one of 23 Arndales built across England, the first coming in Jarrow in 1961.

The famed Lovers' statue.

The famed Lovers' statue.

Shops and businesses along St Sepulchre Gate and Frenchgate were cleared to make way for the new project, including a host of much-loved businesses.

Transport connections were via the bus station, which was linked to the Arndale by a subway and fondly remembered stores from that era include Woolworths, Fox’s Records, The Golden Egg cafe and Don Miller’s bakers.

The centrepiece of the development was of course the infamous Lovers’ statue, situated outside where Boots stands today and which raised a few eyebrows at the time, showing as it did, a naked couple embracing. It was a popular meeting place and now stands in a new home in Waterdale.

Buses outside the Arndale Centre in the 1980s.

Buses outside the Arndale Centre in the 1980s.

Buses on Trafford Way before the demolition of the buildings pictured for the new interchange.

Buses on Trafford Way before the demolition of the buildings pictured for the new interchange.

A bustling Frenchgate during Christmas in the 1980s.

A bustling Frenchgate during Christmas in the 1980s.

An empty mall in the early 1980s.

An empty mall in the early 1980s.

The fondly remembered fountains.

The fondly remembered fountains.

A crowded Arndale Centre in the 1980s.

A crowded Arndale Centre in the 1980s.

The centre ahead of its revamp.

The centre ahead of its revamp.