Shops breathe new life into the heart of town

The staff of Pride of Northumberland: (L-R) Elaine Chaplin, Russell Atwell, Sandy Higson, Julie Lilburn and Julia Aston.
The staff of Pride of Northumberland: (L-R) Elaine Chaplin, Russell Atwell, Sandy Higson, Julie Lilburn and Julia Aston.

NEW shops have opened in Amble, giving a lease of life to a town centre building which has stood empty for around four years.

Pride of Northumbria and K.B. Shoes are located in the former Co-op department store on Queen Street and were officially unveiled on Friday.

The staff at K.B. Shoes: (L-R) Carole Hudson, owner Katherine Bennett, Carole Harris and Lynne McPeake.

The staff at K.B. Shoes: (L-R) Carole Hudson, owner Katherine Bennett, Carole Harris and Lynne McPeake.

The transformation comes after Amble Development Trust secured a grant of £93,767 to fund interior restructuring work of the building, dividing the existing ground floor space into three separate retail units – the third of which is up for rent.

And it is believed that the new shops will be of huge benefit to the town.

Julia Aston, director of the trust – which took on the ownership of the building around three years ago – said: “The opening went exceptionally well. There was a really good turnout and both of the shops that were opened were very well received.

“We had very positive comments and everybody is pleased to see the shops open.

“It lifts what is on offer on the high street and enhances Queen Street. Hopefully it will give visitors and locals a little bit more choice and stop them travelling elsewhere.”

Pride of Northumbria is a development trust-run shop and features arts, crafts and other products from local producers.

It is being run as a social enterprise and money made will go back to the Trust for the benefit of the community.

K.B. Shoes caters for women and children and offers ‘fashionable lines at cheaper prices’, according to owner Katherine Bennett, who has been delighted with the response from the public so far.

She said: “The opening was bigger and better than I expected. It was busy all day.

“It has been good so far and people have said that the shop is just what they have needed.”

Town mayor Coun Leslie Bilboe welcomed the new shops, describing them as ‘a good thing for Amble’.

“They look splendid,” he said. “They will brighten up Queen Street.

“Amble Development Trust has done a wonderful job in getting it up and running. I think it will help to keep shopping in the town.”

DP Builders Ltd, which is based at Amble’s Coquet Enterprise Park, won the building contract for the development and the company’s Doug Paterson cut the ribbon during Friday’s opening ceremony.

Newcastle-based architects Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall were the project’s designers.

The money was granted by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), Defra and One North East and funding was facilitated by Northumberland County Council.

A grant to improve the exterior of the building was awarded last year, with money from English Heritage and the county council’s CAPS scheme.

Anyone interested in renting out the third unit at the site should contact Julia Aston by emailing julia@ambledevelopmenttrust.org.uk or calling 01665 712929.