Eastgate Shopping Centre (Inverness)
Entrace to the Eastgate Shopping Centre
|Location||Inverness, Highland, Scotland|
|Opening date||1983 |
2003 (extension) 
|Developer||Sun & Alliance|
|No. of stores and services||60|
|No. of anchor tenants||2|
|Total retail floor area||144,000 sq ft (13,400 m2)|
The Centre is notable for an automaton clock depicting Noah's Ark, which is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Each hour a monkey is seen raising up a tree and chiming a bell in order to tell the hour. On each hour the clock diorama also plays an animal themed song and a single set of doors open to show pictures of the animal associated with the song. At midday each day a longer display takes place where all of the tunes are played, all the windows are opened and the rest of the diorama also operates. It is still common to see crowds watching the clock for the extended 12 o'clock performance.
The Eastgate shopping centre was first opened in the city centre by Sun Alliance in January 1983, with Marks and Spencer as the anchor store on brownfield land.
The Eastgate shopping centre underwent a refurbishment plan in 1993.
The first application sent to Highland Council by the centre developers Royal & SunAlliance, dated 10 March 1997, was to warrant a much needed extension to the Eastgate. This plan was originally rejected on the grounds of the controversial re-location of the Category B listed building on 7/9 Falcon Square (the Falconer Building), inadequate access to the railway station and too many car park spaces that would allow for this development to go ahead. They were more interested in supporting plans particularly around The Academy Centre extension which was going to be anchored by Debenhams.
The plans outlined were going to contain two new bridges connecting the existing centre and the new extension. This was going to be built on land (Millburn Road), north of the centre on the former Railway goods yard area. Marks and Spencer were going to expand their current store over their own service yard. A car park would be built for the extension holding 1500, which was later forced to scale back, creating 1350 spaces across the two centre car parks. BHS anticipated an interest in being an anchor for the new extension, which also included including room for leisure facility and an 8 screen multiplex cinema.
A later application was accepted, although now without a multiplex cinema. The listed building was moved brick-by-brick to the other side of Falcon Square, and now hosts Pizza Express and Laura Ashley. Building work started in 2001 and was opened in 2003. This new development included two bridge walkways connecting the new phase with the existing shopping centre, complete with Debenhams as the anchor store, and a new food court. The expansion of Eastgate and the construction of the Falcon Mall was deemed one of 'the most impressive planning projects in Scotland in recent years' and was the overall winner of the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2003.
The Falcon Square extension is called the Falcon Mall. The original site is now officially called Eastgate Mall, with Eastgate Centre referring to the two buildings together. As part of this refurbishment, Falcon Square has been rebuilt as a plaza on which a new mercat cross has been erected, and which has replaced the Town House end of the High Street as a gathering point for civic events.
As of May 2019, stores include Boots, Debenhams, Fat Face, Game, H&M, HMV, New Look, Next and Waterstones. While the food court is currently undergoing refurbishment, it hosts a new sister restaurant to popular Cafe One, Tartan Tapas. Throughout the centre, there are other food options such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, and Archie's Cafe, where food is provided by Cobbs Bakery in aid of the Archie Foundation. Plans are underway to expand the food court, and open it up to keep up with modern food court trends.
The Eastgate Centre is notable for an automation clock, which depicts Noah's Ark. This clock is popular among tourists and locals, with many locals reporting that they enjoyed watching the clock as a kid, and their kids also enjoy it. The clock is one of only six of its kind in the UK.
The food court in Falcon Mall is home to The Falcon's Return, a statue depicting James IV of Scotland holding a falcon, as James IV was one of Scotland's celebrated Falconers. The statue also celebrates the name of the Falcon Ironworks that originally stood on the site of the Eastgate expansion, which gave its name to Falcon Square. The sculpture was created by local artist Leonie Gibbs. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was present at the unveiling ceremony, and she and Gibbs are cousins.
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