Hanley Shopping Centre, East Precinct, East West Centre, Old Hall Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, 2010 • Classic grim 1960s new town-style shopping precinct, which by 2016 was completely derelict. There have been plans to redevelop it since 2008, originally as City Sintral, which fell through amidst protests over the ‘illiterate’ name. Now uninspiring new plans are going ahead; after a local vote, it will be called Unity Walk (chosen pre-Brexit, one assumes). At the time of this photograph, final tenant Mr Big had just moved out after 21 years of a 25 year lease, due to all the uncertainty. The precinct is sited behind the old Hanley bus station, a modernist confection of spindly arches and railings, which an unattributed 2010 quote (possibly from this book) brilliantly sums up: “Most poignant of Hanley’s buildings, at its centre is an arcade of faintly Moorish precast concrete arches that connect one board-shuttered parade of shops from another, wanly light hearted and jaunty but unloved and desperate.” But for all its grimness, Stoke is fascinating, and may be 2021’s UK City of Culture.
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