To celebrate 40 years since Manchester Arndale officially opened its doors, award-winning local poet Mike Garry has released a new poem dedicated to the shopping centre and Mancunians’ fond memories of it.

Officially opened on 31 May 1979 by HRH Princess Royal, Manchester Arndale has been at the heart of the city centre for the last four decades.

The new poem is inspired by Mike’s own memories of the centre growing up, as well as taking inspiration from nostalgic comments shared by Manchester Arndale’s shoppers on social media. The poem celebrates the changing face of the shopping centre and the surrounding city centre over the years, as well as much-loved stores like stores like Stolen from Ivor, the Warner Bros store and Rowntrees Café, which still serves generations of loyal customers today.

Mike Garry said:

“The Arndale was an important place for me growing up in Manchester. It was the closest thing to an American mall we had. It was glamour for the kids of Manchester, from Moss Side to Fallowfield, and Moston to Miles Platting. You’d socialise there with your mates, pass the time with a pasty and checkout the latest knits.

“I also worked at Stolen from Ivor selling burgundy jeans, but it wasn’t like going to work, it was like hanging with your mates. And these days, the centre is better than it ever was.”

Mike’s other well-known verses include ode to north Manchester God is a Manc, and St Anthony, which is dedicated to the former Factory Records boss and TV presenter Tony Wilson. Mike has now turned his attention to another famous Mancunian with his piece commissioned ahead of The Arndale’s anniversary:

The heart of the city since ‘79
Tiles that go for miles
Palm trees fountains and an Aviary
Birds and Bees buzzing
Inner city living before Tony Wilson invented it 
Johnny Marr sweeping up in Stolen from Ivor
Everything imaginable within an indoor market
And all the shops that we loved along the way
Warner Bros, Woolworths and C&A
Exit down a concrete helter skelter drop
Bus station, pedestrianisation then a tram stop
Pop star smiles in HMV and Rowntrees Café for a Chippy Tea
Washed down with a pint in John Willie Lees
Then, we built new bridges to new worlds
The Next Chapter, The New Looks with a nod to the past
40 years and standing strong through sunshine snow and rain
And looking forward to serving you for another 40 years again

David Allinson, Centre Director at Manchester Arndale, said:

“Manchester Arndale has been one of the UK’s most popular and exciting shopping destinations over the years – welcoming 40 million people through its doors every year. 

The opening of the northern extension in 2008 led to the arrival of the country’s largest Next store and attracted international brands such as Apple, Monki, Victoria’s Secret and Pink to Manchester for the first time.

The centre remains as popular as ever today, highlighted by Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo’s decision to open its flagship store for the north at Manchester Arndale last month. Our position as one of the UK’s leading fashion hubs has also been boosted by AllSaints’ decision to sign up for a further 10 years at the centre, and the arrival of Quiz, alongside the centre’s more established fashion retailers such as Superdry, JD Sports and many more.

Manchester Arndale continues to attract new shops, restaurants, and leisure brands, and we expect to announce more exciting signings in the coming months.”

As part of the ongoing celebrations, Manchester Arndale is organising a birthday party with a difference for shoppers this weekend. From 31 May – 2 June, The Birthday Box will treat shoppers to a whole host of surprises, as well as the chance to win presents from a range of stores.

There’ll be fun and games in store as shoppers press the big red buzzer and wait for one of the 40 windows on the box to open to see what’s in-store. There’s everything from delicious birthday cake up for grabs, to a diamond necklace from Beaverbrooks worth £550.