As traffic queues for Christmas shopping we recall early Westgate days


It’s that time of year when traffic starts to queue on Oxpens Road to access the Westgate Centre car park for Christmas shopping.

Here we look back at photos of the centre in the 1970s, and on the opening day in 2017, following a £440m revamp.

Back in 1972 the Westgate Centre in Oxford opened for the first time.

Oxford Mail:

It reopened in 2017 followed a multi-million pound revamp.

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In 1972, the £1.8m Westgate Shopping Centre opened with a large Selfridges and a Sainsbury’s.

Oxford Mail: Queues outside the Westgate Centre before it opened on October 24, 2017

But plans to revamp it took many years and included many false starts.

In 1999, artists’ impressions of Capital Shopping Centres’ £220m revamped mall were unveiled.

In 2000, Oxford City Council approved the Westgate extension application but Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott threw out the plans.

Oxford Mail:

The decision was overturned but CSC withdrew its application and in 2006 submitted fresh plans for the £300m redevelopment of the Westgate Centre.

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In 2010, CSC sold the Westgate Centre to the Crown Estate and Land Securities, which forms a consortium named Westgate Oxford Alliance.

Oxford Mail:

In 2013, Westgate Oxford Alliance signed a development agreement with Oxford City Council and in 2014 plans for the £440m revamp of the centre are approved and it opened in October 2017, with 100 new shops and restaurants, a cinema and rooftop terrace.

Shopping aisles were packed out all day long on the opening day, as people shopped for bargains, and visited restaurants and bars on the rooftop terrace.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Mail:  Crowds at the Westgate Centre in 1972 Crowds at the Westgate Centre in 1972

Oxford Mail:  Traffic queues outside the Westgate Centre Traffic queues outside the Westgate Centre

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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