Images of Cheshire Oaks under construction in the 90s

These fascinating aerial shots show the construction of Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet in the mid-90s and how it had developed by the end of that decade. The popular Ellesmere Port shopping destination celebrated its 27th birthday last month. Today, it is the UK’s biggest designer outlet but when it opened for the first time back on March 25, 1995 it began life with just 24 stores, taking up 101,000 sq ft of space.

That’s a far cry from the 140-plus stores and 20 food partners it now boasts on a site which is four times the size when it launched. Phase one planning began back in 1993, with onsite building work getting underway the following year. : Europe’s first retail park bookstore and its famous faces

The first phase, which included the ever present Nike store, then welcomed visitors in March 1995. By the late 90s further phases had been added including the old food court and McDonald’s. In the summer of 1998, Cheshire Oaks got the royal seal of approval when The Queen officially opened the centre.

She also officially opened the nearby Blue Planet Aquarium during her tour of Ellesmere Port. By the time McArthurGlen celebrated Cheshire Oaks’ 10th year of trading, more than 55 million shoppers had visited.

Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet under construction in 1994.

Speaking at the time of the anniversary celebrations, Cheshire Oaks retail operations manager Tina Crumpstey said: “When the centre opened in 1995, we were offering visitors a way of shopping they may only have come across on holiday in America. McArthurGlen was already successful in America when the company set up its first UK venture. “Although the centre was a test bed for McArthurGlen, shoppers embraced the concept from day one.

McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks opened with 24 stores which regularly pulled in more than 100,000 shoppers every month. As the centre expanded, visitor numbers swelled. Now, almost half a million people shop here each month.”

Stephen Ewbank, chief executive of the old Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council, added: “The Designer Outlet Village, which is the largest in Europe, attracting seven million visitors a year and one of the largest employers in the borough, has been an outstanding success.

Images of Cheshire Oaks under construction in the 90sThe first phase of Cheshire Oaks launched in March 1995.

“The development has made a significant contribution towards diversifying our employment base and has had a huge impact on the council’s regeneration ambitions, resulting in the raising of the image and profile of the borough both regionally and nationally. It has without doubt helped to attract other major developments such as the Coliseum leisure and retail development, the Blue Planet Aquarium, the David Lloyd racquets centre, the Holiday Inn at Waterways and many others such as the Lexus and Porsche car showrooms.” Fast forward to 2022 and the outlet village has welcomed more than 140 million visitors.

And it’s not just the shopping and food offer that attracts millions of people from far and wide to the centre each year.

Images of Cheshire Oaks under construction in the 90s

Cheshire Oaks’ annual Christmas wonderland and associated events – including the iconic Christmas tree lights switch-on – are always a big hit. The centre actually boasts the UK’s tallest Christmas tree, standing at almost 100ft. The Coca Cola truck has visited twice and the likes of The Saturdays and The Wanted have all performed at the site in the lead up to Christmas.

To end on a little bit of 90s nostalgia, a famous purple dinosaur by the name of Barney also once made an appearance.

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