HALF A CENTURY: THE STORY OF CASTLEPOINT
As the reconstruction of the carpark signals a new phase for the shopping park, its been an opportune time to look back on the last 50 years of the site . Read on to find out more.
“I remember when the road at the top of Pokesdown Hill was a lane so narrow that when a horse and a cart came along you had to stick in the hedge while it went by. When you got to the other end of the lane there was a bridge where we used to catch minnows and play with the mud. We walked to the other side and this was called “sheep wash” where the farmers used to go and clean and water sheep. That was the beginning of Castle Lane.”
(Emily Bertha Jenkinson)
Castlepoint employs over 2,5k people and it ‘s currently the LARGEST SHOPPING park in the UK with a total development of 41 Acres . It is visited by over 12M shoppers every year, strives to continue developing a very green profile and is proudly supporting the Community of Bournemouth including schools, charities, and local Institutions in many concrete ways.
But when did its story begin?
The "Hampshire Centre" construction works along Castle Lane started in February 1968.
The Hampshire Centre whose flagship shop was Woolworth’s giant sister store Woolco thrived in the hearts of the people of Bournemouth catering for their big shopping for over 20 years. But the Hampshire centre was looking dated by the 1980’s .
The first attempt to put a new shopping centre on site in 1993 was approved by a planner against the wishes of Bournemouth Borough Council: objectors feared that the centre could deal a major blow to retailers in the town centre and the suburbs as Boscombe and Winton but the construction project finally took off the ground and on 27 October 2003, following a major redevelopment of the site, the new centre rising on a 41 acre site -the equivalent of 16 football pitches-opened to the public with the name of Castlepoint Shopping Park.
Construction of the centre, took over two years and cost some £275 million. The first stores to open where B&Q, Sainsbury’s Asda, M&S, GAP, Next WH Smith, the largest in the region along with Clarks, River Island and Argos.
More than 1000 keen shoppers greeted the opening at the cut of the ribbon and 1500 balloons were released in the sky.
“ If we wanted to shop in big store we had to travel to Southampton or farther but now we have a huge development right at our doorstep: that’s exciting!” said Alison Caswell 33 then from Christchurch
“This is a tremendous day for Bournemouth and Dorset” said Graham Whateley Chairman of Castlemore Securities, “I have been working on this for eight years and it is a great day for me personally and for the company”
“People have been worried about Castlepoint but I know Castlepoint will be a good thing for Bournemouth. If people come to Castlepoint rather than Hedge End or Gunwharf Quays then it has got to be good for the town and our economy, the centre has created 2500 new jobs” commented another shopper present at the cut of the ribbon.
Between 2005 and 2006 the car park was closed to the public following safety concerns. This led to the temporary closure of all stores within the main site. Following repair work, the car park was made safe and stores in the main centre were re-opened to the public .
In December 2014 the centre was given permission by the local council to rebuild the car parks in a phased manner. The work is to be completed in 5 separate blocks to minimise disruption to shoppers and tenants.
The redevelopment of the site will add another interesting page to the story of Castlepoint. It will be an exciting new picture to take for those who were there back in the 60s at the cut of the ribbon of the Hampshire Centre, cheered the new Castlepoint Shopping Park and will be seeing the brand new car park happening.
There have been many changes of this site that has gone across the lives of four generations and millions of people in Bournemouth catering for their Christmas, Easter, summer shopping, celebrating together many lights switch on and festive times and one way or another, has always kept “shopping” at the hearts of people in Bournemouth…...the best is however yet to come…!