Nowadays when people in Inverness talk about ‘Eastgate’ they generally mean the sprawling modern shopping centre, built to sit like two linked saddle-bags across each side of the main road into the city from the A9 and the A96. Both sides of the shopping centre include their own built-in multi-story car-park, one underground and one overground, both leading directly into the shopping mall – very civilised, especially in a part of the world where it rains a lot!
But when I was growing up here in the late 60s and early 70s, the whole area of Eastgate looked completely different. Approximately where I was standing to take this pic would have been the back of a dark and dingy derelict building, behind which was a seedy-looking partially-walled area of rough ground where every weekend (meaning Saturday – no Sunday shopping at that time!) you could find the ‘barrows’, temporary market stalls of cheap and cheerful wares perfect for teenagers like me – think Del Boy Trotter from Only Fools and Horses and you get the feel of it all 🙂
And where the shopping centre building in my picture sits now was the well-used old livestock auction mart, strategically placed next to the train station, which is just off to the left in this picture. The current road (just visible on the edge of my picture) didn’t exist at that point, or at least not following this particular route. On the other side of this new road, just off to the right of the picture where the other half of the shopping centre now sits, was a large open area of car park and a few more dark and dingy derelict buildings. The original road into the town (called Eastgate) ran along in front of those long-gone buildings and carried straight down onto the High Street, which is still the High Street today but is now fully pedestrianised.
As with so many British towns today, the arrival of the ubiquitous shopping centre with its standard offering of large chain stores has moved the overall main shopping experience away from the old town centre, leaving the High Street with its huddle of smaller, local shops with frontage along each side of the road struggling with seriously decreased footfall. However thankfully in Inverness there are plenty of good tourist shops happy to fill the void, selling tartans and tweeds and woollens and other such souvenirs of Scotland to our many seasonal visitors, so under normal circumstances the High Street in Inverness is still a reasonably vibrant place to shop 🙂
For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.
P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!