For more than two centuries Accrington has been a proud market town, with a diversity of trade, good transport links and profitable industry.
The Industrial Revolution heralded the making of Accrington and by 1830 the town had become a centre of calico printing and cotton spinning.
Workers came to the modern day borough of Hyndburn in their droves and with this dramatic increase in labour came a demand for more goods and services.
Warner Street was created in 1821 and became the town’s first purpose built street for shopping. The indoor market was opened in 1869 and the Victorian Arcade was opened to fanfare in 1894.
Railways arrived in the town in 1848 and linked Accrington with Manchester and later Preston and Liverpool.
The significant human and financial cost of First World War began a long decline in Accrington’s social and economic fortunes. The abandonment of the Tramway in 1932 and the closure of mill buildings during the depression were signs that the town’s age of Victorian and Edwardian prosperity had passed.
To combat the decline the Accrington Improvement Act was passed in 1931 which saw Broadway created along with the sunken gardens, which the Arndale now sits upon.
During the Sixties a concrete market extension was also created, which many see as ringing in the ‘golden age’ of Accrington market.
Albert Wilkinson, chairman of the Hyndburn Local History Society, said the focus needed to shift back to Accrington’s historic centre around Abbey Street and Warner Street.
He said: “Accrington used to be a buzzing town centre with the market at its heart. The decline has been gradual, with the town slowly losing its edge. The modern shopping centre was created at the start of the Sixties and since then everything has been moving away from the historic centre.
“Places like Clitheroe and Colne have managed to succeed with a focus on local shops.
“There is potential if Accrington returned to its traditional roots, it might have a chance to prosper. Focus on the historic centre and things like the Victorian Arcade which is a fantastic structure.”