In 1980 few people realised that, when a power station’s waterlogged ash dump on the outskirts of Gateshead was chosen for development, the North East of England would be pioneering a retail revolution.
The concept, planning and design of intu Metrocentre were essentially very simple. The aim was to provide a shopping and leisure centre that combined the best of North American innovation with all the lessons learnt from centuries of European shopping tradition.
Since opening in 1986 intu Metrocentre has become more than bricks and mortar. It is now part of the social fabric of the region where people come to meet as well as shop.
intu Metrocentre celebrated it's 25th birthday in 2011. Below is a review of the history of Europe's Largest Shopping and Leisure Centre highlighting some key dates:
• 1981 The former Power Station site became an Enterprise Zone.
• 1984 Sir John Hall and Gateshead MBC launched their proposed development. One of the first national retailers to sign was M&S. Gateshead MBC and the Department of the Environment built vital access roads linking to the A69 Western Bypass (now the A1). Building began.
• 1986 Red mall opened on 28 April. Green mall opened on 14 October.
• 1987 Blue mall, yellow mall and Bus Station opened. Blue multi storey car park and railway station opened. UCI Cinema opened.
• 1988 MetroLand opened. Roman Forum (now The Forum) opened.
• 1989 Mediterranean Village (now Metrocentre Qube) opened. GX Superbowl opened. 350 bay Coach Park opened.
• 1990 A1 Western Bypass opened.
• 1991 Western Bypass 3rd lane opened inbound from the A1 South.
• 1992 North perimeter link to A1 North & West opened.
• 1994 July – New road, Handy Drive opened.
• 1995 Capital Shopping Centres purchased 90% of Metrocentre from the Church Commissioners.
• 2000 Secretary of State Grants consent to extend the Centre to include Debenhams, up to 27 additional shop units and a multi-storey car park.
• 2002 Demolition of the old Asda site begins and the building of the new Red Mall and Debenhams Department Store and the new Public Transport Interchange begins.
• 2003 Topping Out of the new Red Mall takes place. Debenhams starts shop fitting.
• 2004 Opening of the new Public Transport Interchange Wednesday 6th October – Re-launch of Metrocentre and Opening of the new Red Mall. Metrocentre becomes the largest shopping and leisure centre in Europe once again.
• 2006 Plans to redevelop the Yellow Mall are unveiled, involving relocating the Cinema to the yellow mall with a new bowling alley and introducing new family style restaurants to replace the Food Court.
• 2007 Capital Shopping Centres purchases Metro Retail Park in Gateshead for £82.5 million.
• 2007 Work begins on the redevelopment of the new Yellow Mall.
• 2009 The new Yellow Mall, now known as Metrocentre Qube, opens. Final phase is complete in December 2009 when the new ODEON Cinema opens.
• 2010 The last of three art projects for Metrocentre Qube is launched in August
• 2011 Metrocentre celebrated it's 25th birthday.
More detailed information on the Centre’s history is available to download below.
Find out important facts, figures and more about the history behind the largest Shopping and Leisure Centre in Europe. Click below to download a copy of our Information Pack.