‘Lifeline for the borough’ - Market Gates Shopping Centre through the years

L0331 Yarmouth Market Gates shopping centre april 1981 Archant

L0331 Yarmouth Market Gates shopping centre april 1981 Archant - Credit: Archant

On the surface it’s like any other shopping centre in the country with its franchises, cafes and brand-names.

Shoppers in the Market Gates Shopping Centre in May 1978.

Shoppers in the Market Gates Shopping Centre in May 1978. - Credit: Archant

But Market Gates in Great Yarmouth also sits in the ghostly outlines of the town's long history, stretching all the way back to medieval times and unfurling forward into the swinging sixties, when The Beatles played a gig in what once was a cinema - and is now a Costa.

The mall was built in 1976 on an area that had been damaged during the Second World War.

It was opened two years later.

In medieval times the site was surrounded by a town wall, built with flint from the beach, stretching more than 2,000 yards and standing 23 foot tall.

Great Yarmouth - BuildingsYarmouth Star development site in the town centre, starting work on the

Great Yarmouth - BuildingsYarmouth Star development site in the town centre, starting work on the construction of the Market Gates Shopping Precinct. On the left of the picture is St Mary's Church and in the background on the right is the Tower Building.Dated October 1973Photograph C2454 - Credit: Archant


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During the 14th century there was a paved, open-air market which every Easter played host to a fair.

In 1989 the ABC cinema on Regent Street, where the Beatles played in 1963, was demolished to make way for the shopping district.

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The town wall still stands, some sections still missing and the part under the Market Gates hidden from view.

Near the O2 shop there once stood a charity school in the 18th century.

Dwarfed by the tower crane, work starts on the construction of Market Gates Shopping Centre in Octob

Dwarfed by the tower crane, work starts on the construction of Market Gates Shopping Centre in October 1973. - Credit: Archant

In 2007 the mall was expanded and one year later opened to the public with additional stores.

Now the building, which incorporates a bus station and multi-storey carpark, houses 40 stores with Wilko, Debenhams, New Look, Starbucks and Burger King among the familiar names.

And while the centre has been described by a former councillor as a "lifeline for the borough", it has suffered some negative news over the years.

Mothercare moved out just over ten years ago after three decades in the town - one of the first major names to pull out and a sign that all was not well in town centres.

(2 of 4) Ad Feature - Market Gates, Great Yarmouth. Keiron Tovell 25/11/99

(2 of 4) Ad Feature - Market Gates, Great Yarmouth. Keiron Tovell 25/11/99

In March 2012 the shopping centre went into administration and was bought a year later by a group called Elandi for £28m.

In April this year it was announced the Debenhams store would close in January 2020.

1/3 Toilet attendant Kevin Hunter cleans the Market Gates public toilet block. een 28/1/03

1/3 Toilet attendant Kevin Hunter cleans the Market Gates public toilet block. een 28/1/03 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press Archant

Queues at Market Gates bus station in Great Yarmouth, 14th November 1985. Photo: Archant Library

Queues at Market Gates bus station in Great Yarmouth, 14th November 1985. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

L0290 Yarmouth market gates Sainsbury opens october 1975

L0290 Yarmouth market gates Sainsbury opens october 1975 - Credit: Archant

Santa arrives at Market Gates in Great Yarmouth, 21st November 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Santa arrives at Market Gates in Great Yarmouth, 21st November 1987. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

L0330 Yarmouth market gates shopping centre sep 1975 Archant

L0330 Yarmouth market gates shopping centre sep 1975 Archant - Credit: Archant

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