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The great debate: Are town centres a thing of the past?
...and who is to blame, the larger corporates or the consumer?
Morning readers, Rikki with you here. This subject matter has been on my mind for a while so I wanted to use the newsletter as an outlet for inducing thought and hopefully some debate. One thing we have noticed since moving onto Barrack Street in Armagh City Centre is the sheer amount of footfall and traffic flow in the city. I think it’s safe for us to say Armagh is alive and well. For those of you who don’t know where we are, we aren’t easy to miss - and for all you coffee lovers, we are beside what seems to be one of the most popular coffee houses in the city!
For years there has been a debate, did the shopping centre take all the trade out of Lurgan and Portadown? Is Tandragee becoming a drive-thru on the route to Newry? Has Gilford town or village (depending on your perception) been totally forgotten? Are the better shops in Banbridge at the top of the town? The list is endless.
We hear it day and daily that town centres are full of charity shops and hairdressers.. indeed I remember a time people used to say they were full of banks… alas not the case any longer as over the years banks have made a mass exodus.
We can’t deny that yes, town centres have changed, but are they merely evolving as consumer habits change? Is entrepreneurship waning and ultimately are the bigger multinational conglomerates to blame by sweeping in and buying up smaller businesses struggling to make it? Or perhaps the consumer is to blame for not backing ‘the little guy’?
A drive through Tandragee might heighten your senses to this! On Christmas Eve we published Concerns by elderly Tandragee folk as Church Street SPAR confirms New Year closure and two weeks ago the latest blow for the town came as New Craigavon factory to relocate Tandragee’s White’s Speedicook up for approval, plans which will see Whites (now owned by Fane Valley) leaving their current home in Tandragee – where they have been based since 1841.
The empty buildings are stacking up, or falling down as was the case in August 2021 when Tandragee’s Market Street was closed again due to risk to neighbouring property as contractors were called in to demolish an unstable property. To date no work has been carried out to improve the appearance of either property - leaving one business closed for trading.
Other businesses lost to the town over the years include The Spot Nightclub which closed and was subsequently sold in 2002 following closure shortly after the double murder of Andrew Robb (19), and David McIlwaine (18) in 2000.
Indeed many empty units adorn the main street as many of the landmark buildings have never been reoccupied, Cullen’s Bar and Lounge which remains on the market for sale, the former home of Hamilton Hardware on Mill Street as the extensive property portfolio was put up for sale, 132 Market Street a five bedroom, three storey residential property as well a prominent property in Church Street.
Tandragee is a town with its problems, but one which has a close knit community which does support its independent traders - of which there are plenty. What can be done to drive the growth of this small but very important town? Are you a Tandragee resident, we would love to hear from you and your thoughts. Simply reply to this newsletter or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Tandragee stories include:
In the headlines
Out with the old and in with the new. Delight as work starts on state-of-the-art St Ronan’s College new-build in Lurgan
Jobs Profiled: As though the stars themselves had aligned, Heather now occupies the position of Senior Education Officer at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.
Just in time for Valentine’s weekend! Win a pair of tickets with Omniplex Cinema’s. We aren’t saying you have to go and see Magic Mike but we hear it’s pretty good! To view more listings click here