It was dubbed as the finest toy shop outside London but 30 years since it closed its doors for the final time, the demolition of Sheffield’s Redgates has begun.
Thousands of Sheffielders’ memories will be consigned to rubble after bulldozers moved in on the site yesterday to make way for the ongoing redevelopment of The Moor and city centre.
The huge store, across several floors, was a haven of brightly coloured stacks of Lego, dolls’ houses, Subbuteo, Meccano, bikes, outfits, Matchbox cars, railway sets, wooden horses and board games.
But the building is being demolished to make way for the third phase of the development of The Moor and ongoing development of the city centre.
Phil Huby, head of retail at Abderdeen Standard Investments, who are carrying out thw works on the Moor, said: ““We have been able to secure leading occupiers in the market due to our continued commitment to Sheffield and the 22 per cent increase in footfall during 2017 when we recorded 11.2 million visitors to The Moor.
“We are also keen to ensure the leisure offers compliment the area and the city. Lane7 (bowling alley) will be a great addition to Phase 3 helping to provide a variety of leisure options to shoppers giving more reasons to increase their time on The Moor.
“New Look (16,000 sq ft) will sit well alongside anchor fashion tenant H&M (36,000 sq ft). Demolition and refurbishment on this block starts this summer aiming for trading 2019.
“The level of Interest in the scheme and the environment we can offer on The Moor is both reassuring and exciting. It demonstrates confidence that we are providing what the occupational market and consumer want.”
The Moor’s existing tenants, who came to city as part of previous phases of the redevelopment, have welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Keith Pullinger, chief executive of The Light Cinema, said: “Since opening in April last year we have been visited by over 300,000 people. Our intention was to create a more premium cinema experience with an atmospheric café bar arrival experience and, of course, big screens with state of the art picture and sound. Perhaps the element that has made the most impact on our audiences has been our luxury, extra wide reclining seats.
“Sheffield was our seventh cinema opening in an expansion plan aiming for 20 new Light cinemas over the next four years. We are delighted how well the region has taken to the cinema. As well as being great for us, it also provides an added attraction for The Moor and for Sheffield city centre.”
Redgates was founded on Fargate by Edwin Redgate in 1857, later moving to The Moor and then Furnival Gate.
Staff would be encouraged to play with toys in the store - especially in the run-up to Christmas each year when it would come into its own.
Here are some key dates from Redgates’ history:
1890 - Cheap fur which won’t sell is used to make pram covers. Prams are sold for the first time to go with the covers. Wheeled toys are also brought in.
1895 - William S Nunn marries Edwin’s daughter, Annie Gertrude, and later becomes a partner in the business.
1918 - George Nunn, son of William and Annie Gertrude brings more toys to the business after visiting Manchester Toy Fair.
1925 - The store moves to Moorhead for the first of two stays there.
1940 - The store is badly damaged during the Sheffield Blitz and relocates to Ecclesall Road.
1948 - Michael Nunn, the last member of the Redgate family to run the business, joins at just 20 years of age.
1954 - It moves back to Moorhead followed, in 1962, to Furnival Gate.
1986 - After 129 years as a family concern the store is sold to UK chain Zodiac Toys.
1988 - Zodiac shuts the store.