Tuesday, 01 September 2015

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A little bit of Carlisle history vanishes with the bulldozers

Work to clear the way for a £40 million supermarket has changed the face of an historic corner of Carlisle.

Caldewgate Sainsbury site work photo
The demolition work nears completion

Demolition workers this week chipped away the final bricks of a string of Victorian-built shops in Caldewgate.

They have been torn down to make way for a Sainsbury’s supermarket that supporters hope will rejuvenate the area, creating up to 500 jobs.

It is the latest in a string of major redevelopments in Caldewgate in recent years, which has included the demolition of one of Carlisle’s oldest pubs, The Malsters, to make way for student accommodation, the creation of a new community centre on the corner of Shaddongate and its recovery from the floods of 2005.

All have gradually changed the landscape of the area – slowly dawning a new era in an area that has evolved greatly over hundreds of years and holds an important place in Carlisle’s history.

There has been keen interest as the row of shops which once stood on Church Street was taken down.

And while many are sad to see them go others see the changes as a chance for new life to be breathed into Caldewgate – one of the busiest routes in and out of the city – and the businesses which remain there.

Marion Jones is landlady of the Joiners Arms pub – thought to be possibly Carlisle’s oldest inn at nearly 300 years old – next to the supermarket site.

She said: “It’s sad in one sense because the old buildings have gone.

“I’ve seen a lot of older people in the past few weeks standing at the fence and looking through.”

Yet, nostalgia aside, she is a supporter of the development starting to take shape.

“I’ve waited years for this. I can look out of my flat window and see the castle and flats on the other side of the river. I have a wonderful view now instead of looking out onto an old corrugated roof.”

The landlady believes the latest developments will benefit Caldewgate and people’s outlook on it.

“This is the first thing people see when they come into the city from the west,” she added.

“I think it will be marvellous and bring better trade in. It should’ve happened years ago.

“I’m hoping that the men will come for a pint while their wives go shopping at Sainsbury’s.”

Sainsbury’s is unable to confirm when construction work will start in Caldewgate, but say work is continuing behind the scenes ahead of that beginning.

Hope remains that Sainsbury’s could be open for Christmas. The store will have parking for 446 cars and a petrol station.

After the final pieces of the remaining shop frontages were taken down this week large diggers have been shifting mounds of rubble around on the site and crushing them.

Passers-by can now see clearly down Willowholme Industrial Estate towards the Stagecoach bus depot. Vacant warehousing and industrial units at the corner of Bridge Street and Bridge Lane in Caldewgate have also been demolished as part of the development.

Damaged homes in Willowholme Gardens, which would have bordered the Sainsbury’s site, were knocked down in the wake of the January 2005 floods.

Changes taking place further add to the story of Caldewgate, which is also home to the historic McVitie’s biscuit factory.

Its history dates back to medieval times when it was the site of the Church of the Holy Trinity and the graveyard that was there, stretching onto the Sainsbury’s site.

For some, the latest development marks the end of its life as a largely residential area, made up of lanes, some named after poets.

Its row of shops was once made up of the traditional shops with a Co-operative store there from 1860s to 1968. Blacksmiths and Whitesmiths have also traded there.

The area is also synonymous with Paddy’s Market, which first started trading outside what is now the Golden Pheasant Chinese restaurant and later in the car park opposite what is now student flats. It is no stranger to change with historical records showing plans for redevelopments in Caldewgate dating back to 1899.

Malcolm Stott, 64, has lived in Caldewgate for 50 years.

He is not a fan of the modern buildings that have been erected in recent years, although says he is not against Sainsbury’s.

“It is a shame to see the old buildings go. A lot of families were fetched up in this area but there has to be progress,” he said.

“All around here were lanes and the area has lost its character. There were businesses all along both sides – lots of shops of all kinds.”

The demolition work to clear the way for Sainsbury’s has, inevitably, brought change for the businesses that once stood on its site.

KC Superbikes has moved into a new purpose-built showroom over the road, while Beautiful Interiors moved across the road to Byron House in Shaddongate and the Good Year Chinese Takeaway closed in July after 27 years in business. The David Hayton Peugeot garage has relocated to a new showroom at Kingstown.

Have your say

so sad to see the place go. I have many memories of it in the 50s when I was a child

Posted by Carole G on 18 May 2012 at 15:14

well kown landmark, as walked there daily. in my child hood ,please send any old photos, please.

Posted by caroline g on 18 May 2012 at 15:05

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