A doomed shopping parade was once the beating heart of his estate.
In February 2023, it was announced that the derelict shopping parade in North Manchester would be torn down in a matter of weeks. The council finally approved plans to demolish Eastford Square in Collyhurst, which has been derelict for over a decade.
Manchester City Council now owns the building on Rochdale Road after acquiring the final unit following years of negotiations with its owner. The three-story structure has stood on the site since the surrounding social property was built in the 1960s.
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It’s hard to believe that the crumbling, boarded-up parade, recently dubbed “Manchester’s biggest eyesore”, was once central to a thriving community. From the post office and butchers to later hairdressers and chippy, the shops in Eastford Square brought locals everything they needed on their doorstep.
Last year, the MEN spoke to the tenants who still live on the surrounding property, and many still hold fond memories of the parade and their place in the community. Susan Lever, 65, had lived in her apartment in the nearby Roach Court tower block since 1968.
Born and raised in Collyhurst, she remembered a world very different from the ghost town the square has since become. “He was thriving around here,” she said.
“It had everything you wanted. You had all the shops and then three pubs within walking distance.
“The chippy was one of the best about 25 years ago. The queue used to go right in front of the shops.
“Even the post office was full. The community was great. You could talk to anyone.
“The people who worked in those places were more friends than merchants. It would take you two hours to go for a bottle of milk because you would be talking to everyone.
“Kids used to play soccer and ride bikes here. Now there’s nothing because they divided the community by taking everyone out.”
Now, with the days of the square numbered, the MEN has unearthed images from the Manchester Central Libraries Archive showing just how different the parade and surrounding property once were. The images, taken between 1971 and 1986, show the houses surrounding the square that were demolished some time ago.
Children can be seen riding bicycles and playing in the streets. Other images show the farms now lost stores and Post Office.
When MEN recently posted a selection of the images to some of Manchester’s popular community Facebook groups, people took to the comments with their own memories. One person said: “Lived on Hamerton Road opposite the shops – very convenient, had everything you needed.”
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Another person agreed, saying, “It was a well-used resource back in the day and had everything you needed to do your shopping. It even had a bakery at one point.”
Another said: “Lots of childhood memories from here. I think there was a chippy on the right hand side, back in the 1980s. I remember the shop, the hair salon where I used to get a haircut as a kid.”
A former shop clerk at the parade said: “I work at Spar and took over when Fred retired. (We) used to make our own bacon and ham, and roast our own ham too. Nothing tasted better than when it was still warm .”
Another person recalled: “It was a beautiful set of shops: Fred, Billy and Roy running the Spar. Tony the hairdresser at Shady Lady. Bright times.”
Another posted: “Lived across there on one of the blocks in the late 80’s. Used these shops regularly when I moved there from south Manchester. salt of the earth.”
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In addition to the Spar and the hairdresser, many remembered that the chip shop was excellent in its day. But it was the sense of community that many people remembered fondly, saying they wouldn’t change where they grew up.
When MEN interviewed the people still living in the surrounding area last year, another resident, Norman Stack, recalled: “There was a Chinese chippy, a cafe, a hairdresser and a stationery store. Everyone used to use them, it was the heart of the community.
“When all the duplexes were up, it was very busy. When they were torn down, not many people were using the store.
“Sad to say, but he has to go. He’s been an eyesore for a long time.”
Plans to transform this part of Collyhurst have been in the works since 2006, when the council first decided to apply to the government for funding for the regeneration work. The area was earmarked for a landmark Private Finance Initiative (PFI), one of the largest in the country, which would have built 1,300 new homes as part of a £250m scheme.
Does Eastford Square spark any memories in you? Let us know in the comments section.
The post-war maisonettes surrounding Eastford Square were demolished several years ago in preparation for redevelopment. While the council-owned 1960s shopping parade and tower blocks on Hamerton Road remained, the loss of a large part of the Collyhurst community was strongly felt. Over the years, the stores emptied.
Now, 1,500 new homes are planned in the wider area on the edge of Manchester city center under the Victoria North scheme. A new tram stop on the Bury, Rochdale and Oldham Metrolink lines is also planned near the site.
And while specific plans for the Eastford Square site have yet to be decided, many have welcomed the demolition of the ‘ghost town’ shopping parade. The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that work will begin in the spring.
However, Harpurhey Councilor Pat Karney expects the building to be gone by the end of this month. He said: “It’s the biggest eyesore in North Manchester.”