The day we went it was a wet and miserable day in Manchester, so obviously we hoped by heading to Yorkshire we would avoid the worst of the weather. We got on the M60, M62 and made an exit at junction 26 onto the M606. After that we just looked for the signs to Saltaire. To be honest the Bradford ring road system is a mystery to me and I’m sure we went the wrong way. However the main thing was that we got to Shipley in the end, although the weather wasn’t that much better than in Manchester.
We parked in the ASDA car park and headed into Shipley town centre. The ASDA seemed to be the main draw to the place and it was packed with Saturday shoppers.
The town itself is not very big and the shops are compacted into a few streets. There was an outdoor market in the town square selling the usual market items. Opposite the outdoor market was Shipley Indoor Market Hall.
The architects from the 1960s have a lot of explaining to do in my books and Shipley Market Hall is a prime example of Brutalist architecture. Whilst the building provides a function, the aesthetics are somewhat grim with the basic use of concrete, brick and glass. The clock tower on top of the market hall dominates the town’s skyline and is a rather grey cherry on a very dated building. We popped inside to see what we could find. It was old fashioned and some businesses seemed to have been here since the place opened. However, if you want cheap tech stuff, there is a stall in there to meet your needs. The flooring of creamy marble look tiles inset with shiny bits of glass gave me flashbacks to shopping with my Mum in 1970s Manchester. It always reminds me of old department stores like Lewis' and Kendal’s, which seemed to have this type of flooring. Now if I was looking for a location for a film set in the 1960s which needed an indoor market location – this would be the place, minus the tech stall obviously
We came here for the charity shops and oh boy do they have charity shops. I swear there were more charity shops than had been mentioned on Yell. We ping-ponged from charity shop to charity shop. There was a good line of cheap books going on and I managed to picked up some Jo Nesbo (Scandi-Noir crime fiction). However Neil wasn’t having much luck with the records. If you like brass band and orchestra records, this is the place for you. Although later we found out in Saltaire why there was such a shortage of decent records.
As much as I love a charity shop, in Shipley I discovered there was a real limit to the number of charity shops one small town can take. I have never seen as many charity shops in one small radius than in Shipley and it were a sad sight to see. However you do have to consider whether it’s worse to have lots of empty shops instead. It’s a real dilemma if you ask me.
The rest of the town was a mix of cheap shops and high street names, although on a little side street we did spot some independent shops cropping up. The health food shop seemed to be doing good trade.
It was lunch time and Neil gets grumpy when he doesn’t eat so needed to find something. To be honest we struggled to find anything interesting. The bakeries were not that exciting and I had a bland sausage roll, which I only ate half of. In the end we decided to go to McNics – a fish and chip shop with an eating area. Neil had fish and chips and I decided to have a couple of scallops (the potato in batter variety). Neil said his fish was good and I really liked the scallops as they were dry and crispy. Whilst we were eating a strange lady came up to us and showed us her bag of shopping. She was talking so fast I couldn’t understand. Thankfully Neil was on hand to translate. She was very happy to have bought loads of presents for a few quid from the local shops. Seriously it’s not a hard task to do in Shipley.
In the end we walked the long way round to get our car. As a result we managed to see some of the local houses. They were large Victorian terraces built from local stone. They looked rather nice and spoke of an age when Shipley was a booming town off the back of the industrial revolution.
We also walked past the local leisure centre which had seen better days. It was closed for refurbishment which I'm sure will help sort that out.
Shipley looks like a town that is languishing in the 1970s. The Shipley Market Hall dominates the streetscape and I thought with the gentrification of nearby Saltaire, there would have been a ripple effect on Shipley. However from what I could see from the town centre that was not really the case, apart on the far edges of the town. Maybe there are things in Shipley I didn't spot that make it a nice place to live. Maybe it was the weather that put a dampener on our experience, but I didn’t find Shipley inspiring. I knew Saltaire would be a different story, but I was genuinely surprised to find places like Shipley still existed.