England

In pictures: The rise and fall of shopping centres

The Whitgift Centre in Croydon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 1970s was a boom time for shopping centres: The Whitgift Centre in Croydon was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1970

As a warning is issued that 200 shopping centres in the UK are in crisis, the BBC looks back at a time when they were the go-to place for shoppers.

Shopping arcades have been around since the 1800s, when the Burlington Arcade was opened in Mayfair, London.

But it was Birmingham's original Bull Ring Centre in 1964 that sparked a boom in US-style shopping centre complexes.

However, experts have issued a warning for their future amid a decline in "major anchor stores" and rise in online shopping.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Britain's first shopping arcade was the Burlington Arcade, which opened in 1819
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The original Bull Ring Centre in Birmingham was built in 1964

When the Bull Ring opened its doors it was meant to be "the ultimate shopping experience", according to historian Carl Chinn.

It was described as the biggest indoor shopping centre outside the US.

Scores of other shopping centres followed its lead in bringing together many outlets in one place, and started appearing in towns and cities up and down the country.

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Image caption Shops including Boots, Currys and Zodiac in the Friars Square Shopping Centre in Aylesbury in 1970
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Image caption The shopping centre in Romford, Essex (also pictured in 1970) was home to stores such as Freeman Hardy Willis and Littlewoods

They continued to be a favoured destination for shoppers in the 1980s and 90s.

But the rise of online retailers such as Amazon, and the economic downturn post-2008, has made life for shopping centre bosses much more challenging.

Hundreds of premises lie empty across the country, and more centres are at-risk, according to analyst Nelson Blackley from the National Retail Research Knowledge Exchange Centre.

Image caption Croydon's Whitgift Centre is due to be demolished, to make way for a new Westfield shopping complex
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Redevelopment plans for Hanley Shopping Centre in Stoke-on-Trent have fallen through
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Image caption An eerily quiet shopping centre in Yeovil
Image copyright Jack Alford
Image caption The Bargate Shopping Centre in Southampton

It appears that these retail centres, which were once the hubs for shopping activity in towns and cities across the UK, will continue to face an uncertain future.

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