Construction on Dundee’s Wellgate Centre began in the early 1970s with the shopping mall set to replace a thoroughfare from the bottom of the Hilltown.
Following its opening in April 1978 it quickly became the go-to shopping venue for many Dundonians, and those from further afield.
From high street chains to its popular indoor market and of course not forgetting the iconic chiming nursery clock and waterfall feature, today we celebrate memories of the Wellgate’s golden years with a series of images from our archives.
The Wellgate development is under way in November 1975 with progress being viewed from one of the Dallfield Multis here.
The centre was starting to take the shape which we all now know in May 1977 just under a year before the doors would eventually open for shoppers.
Every hour on the top floor of the Wellgate, the iconic nursery rhyme clock burst into life, enchanting audiences both young and old, many of whom timed their visit perfectly to coincide with the spectacle – especially for the bigger midday performance.
The clock was assembled by Suffolk clockmakers Haward Horological Ltd and installed in 1978 and ever since it has not only functioned as a time piece but also the perfect meeting point for pals, or couples on first dates.
The clock is pictured below in 1979.
When it comes to iconic features the clock wasn’t the only spectacle the Wellgate Centre had to offer on its opening.
The waterfall was made up of curtains of plastic wires which water flowed down and trickled into a pool below. There were also three small fountains that shot water upwards creating a marvellous display that was illuminated by coloured spotlights.
As the water feature became the focus of attention, people started to throw coins into the pool like a wishing well, and every so often the pool would be dredged with the money going to charity.
When you look at this picture you may just see a really happy bunch of Wellgate Centre assistants gearing up for another shift, or maybe celebrating the end of one?
However this group were actually evacuated in September 1979 after the centre was in the middle of a bomb scare emergency. I would imagine their reaction was taken when it was announced that they were in no danger rather than when the scare itself was happening.
Star of the long running series Dr Who, Tom Baker, parked his Tardis in Dundee as he made a stop at R. Gordon Drummond in the Wellgate in November 1979 to sign copies of brand new Dr Who paperbacks.
Wrapped in the signature multi-coloured scarf Tom is seen meeting children from the Dudhope Day Nursery here.
Never one to shy away from an appearance in Dundee (see the opening of the rebranded Forum Centre here) TV favourite William Roache, better known as Ken Barlow from Coronation Street, was on hand to help celebrate the opening of the new Granada TV rental concession at the Tesco Superstore in the centre in December 1979.
His appearance certainly seems to have made many ladies in this group happy.
The entrance to the Wellgate Centre as well as the much loved Market Hall can be seen here in April 1980 with locals enjoying the spring sunshine outside.
The Wellgate Market Hall was a bustling area of the centre with everything shoppers could want from clothing stalls such as Hustlers which is seen below in December 1980 to grocers and everything in between.
The market was continually popular until in April 1999 it was announced that it was set to close resulting in the loss of 60 jobs. Here shoppers are seen browsing the stalls in December 1980.
There was a number of popular clothing stores that called the Wellgate home over the years, one of which was the City Jeanster store which could be found on the centre’s top floor. It is seen below in June 1986.
An ever popular shop in the 70s and 80s was Weigh and Save stores which allowed shoppers to get as much of their loose goods such as flour, nuts and cereals, and of course sweets as they required. It is a trend that can be seen popping up more and more recently as we all try to be a little more eco conscious.
Here young Dorothy Stewart was on hand to help at the opening of a new Weigh and Save shop in the Wellgate Centre in June 1987.
The aforementioned Wellgate waterfall grew in to more of an oasis as time went on and its popularity increased. Here it can be seen in November 1986 with the surrounding plants having majorly increased in quantity since its opening eight years previously.
There is nothing better after a long day shopping then getting some good food down you and in October 1993 that was easier than ever as the new Central Mall Café opened and became a busy meeting place from the get go.
And finally, as if parents don’t spend enough on their little ones during a day at the shops these pesky multi-coloured amusements seem to be at every turn, which results in please for just a wee drop more pennies so they can have a go.
Here this youngster is enjoying a go on the kids ride which was stationed outside the Gemini Jewellers in June 1993.