In Pictures: Brent Cross Shopping Centre Turns 40

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 23 months ago
In Pictures: Brent Cross Shopping Centre Turns 40

Brent Cross Shopping Centre turns 40 today. To celebrate we've dug out some old photos and historical titbits.

Billed 'the first American-style mall in the UK' (although Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre predates it by 11 years), Brent Cross Shopping Centre opened on 2 March 1976. It had been 19 years in the planning.

Brent Cross aimed to entice buyers to shop for most of their needs in the same place. But the space was also designed to make them feel relaxed, with features like this plant-fringed fountain:

Hannah Leston, 88 from Finchley, said, "I remember walking in to Brent Cross for the first time, and my husband said to me 'that's the end of Golders Green' — because it was like no shopping experience we'd ever seen before.

"Living 10 minutes away, it meant we could drive to the shops and do everything we needed, all under one roof – without having to worry about a coat or umbrella if it was raining. Through the years, it was a place for us to meet friends for coffee, take our grandchildren and do our shopping."

It wasn't just adults who were enchanted. From when the shopping centre opened until 1996, children got to play on the wooden animals shown below: a horse, caterpillar and turtle.

To marks the centre's birthday, a replica set of the animals has been installed. This time, though, it's art; you won't get to clamber over them. The display is opened today by Vanessa Feltz, and will be in the shopping centre for three months.

Many of the original outlets have stayed here over the mall's 40 years, including Fenwick, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots and Mothercare.

The shopping centre has also doubled up as a film set, starring in in Bloc Party's 2015 video for The Love Within:

And, in 1996, moonlighting as a shopping centre in Hamburg for Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. Here's Pierce Brosnan with a couple of lucky Brent Cross employees:

With the rise of online shopping, the future of shopping centres is nebulous. It's no mean feat that Brent Cross has survived four decades, and continues to welcome 1.2m shoppers each month. Whether or not it manages another 40 years in business remains to be seen.

Photo by Steve Reed in the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 03 March 2016

Kay

So modernist, beautiful pics. I don't think the mall is dying any time soon, mostly because tourists who flock to London love them which I always found was strange, since many of their countries have the biggest malls in the world. But people also love the social aspect of the mall. Plus come on, its London, when its not freezing its drizzling.

Far from home

You couldn't only clamber over the wooden animals, you could also climb inside them. You could crawl through the catipillar. It bloody stank inside!

Juno

Hard to get to - a stiff walk from the tube, North Circular buses aren't to everyone's taste, and the road approaches are narrow and easily jammed. Fortunately, councils do love Development Plans and a big one is under way to rip up half the area (and the Staples Corner roundabout horror) to improve accessibility. As long as parking remains free, otherwise they'll lose their advantage over the bigger and better Westfield.

Greg Tingey

Ghastly dump
Hell-Hole