|Save The Galleries
Well, thanks in some part to the bright and shiny Grand Arcade, Wigan’s other great shopping precinct is now looking a little bit....er...tired. That’s a shame. The Galleries never really quite endeared themselves to Wiganers. The birth was a little traumatic coming as it did just one year short of the Market Hall’s centenary and it also opened in the right in the middle of a recession. Not surprising then that there were few fanfares and trumpets. After this stuttering start, The Galleries never really got going for reasons that must be difficult to truly fathom. It sat right in the middle of town, yards from the bus station and a short walk from the train station. Those of us with our own cars could park on the roof and have even less to walk.
Early on, I’d marked out the Galleries as THE place that I was going to charm the opposite sex. With a high footfall, there must be SOME chance of me getting lucky. With my best teenage ‘baggy’ I would hang around, just waiting for that stunning blonde to come along and question where I’d been all her life. I’d spend ages overlooking the escalators that took people down to Index, hoping (praying) that my Venus was on her way back up after picking up some screw-it-together-yourself black Ash video tape holder.
A misspent youth – it never happened. Venus never came my way.
In part, I blame myself for this, but on reflection, maybe it was the Galleries themselves. Just why did Venus not want to shop there? Clearly it’s not just me that feels a little jilted since the downstairs part of The Galleries now looks more empty than a Chilean mine. Why does no-one want to go there? This is more of a debate for the town planners, but in the absence of any answers or solutions, perhaps it’s time for the Council to take a stand. There seems to be a bit of a trend for the Health and Social services to be provided all over town. That’s not convenient. Surely a one stop shop would be better, with the public facing services all brought together in one convenient location? Times are tough and it’s hard to see big business taking over the downstairs lots – they’re all at Robin Park or the Grand Arcade. Empty units make it harder and harder for the small guys to stay alive, let alone prosper. It’s a vicious circle and one that we must stop.
The Galleries will never be to everyone’s taste, but for the sake of the old Market Hall, we must not let them spiral into decline. If it was proper and just that the old Market Hall fell for The Galleries to be built in its shadow, then the Galleries should be a worthy successor to it. Right now, it’s hard to see this being the case and I have a sense of foreboding that if things continue, the plug will be pulled. What a waste it would all have been. So, join my campaign to maintain and preserve what we have left and with a bit of look, Venus might just be tempted back. I’m still hopeful and still available.