Stretford Arndale was renamed Stretford Mall in 2003 and modernised throughout, only it looks as though they missed a spot…
Set within Stretford Mall is the market square, still gloriously sixties in appearance though sadly dying in trade. But there’s more than just these units who are struggling on despite everything; there’s a mezzanine level that houses something of a time warp.
It was whilst stood admiring the textured frieze surrounding the market, a leftover of the 1969 decor that once covered the entire centre, that the mezzanine level above became apparent. It was like staring through a tear in the fabric of time; it wasn’t altered, it wasn’t hidden yet it wasn’t paid attention to either. Totally isolated and hidden in plain sight.
Looking at an archive image of that old interior still present here in the square there’s that tinge of glamour, the same tinge evident when looking back at Manchester airport when the departure lounge was framed by enormous Italian chandeliers (these chandeliers are now in various homes: one at MOSI where it has never left storage, one in Pilkington’s Glass and another, recently dismantled into many parts, to form a display at the Tatton Biennial).
The three units up here are a wood-panelled John Andrew Ladies and Gents Hairdressing; a decoratively-tiled Tiles and Tiling of Stretford; and the seemingly quaint brick and net-curtained inn that was O’Brien’s Cafe Bar. The latter is the back-room of the existing O’Brien’s pub that can be accessed from the street-side of the mall but the room, despite opening out quite brazenly onto more modern parts of the pub, seems to be more or less out of use.
Inside the hairdressing unit there are headshots of all the latest styles at the time and posters that herald the arrival of mousse and all its “magic”. I couldn’t