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PICTURES: Looking back at Accrington Arndale Centre opening 30 years ago

More than 20,000 flocked to the opening of the £7.5m centre in October 1987

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Doddymania gripped the town as funnyman Ken Dodd did the honours of officially opening the town’s gleaming new shopping centre, with crowds joining him in singing his song ‘Happiness’.

But crowd chaos threatened to mar the grand opening of the Accrington Arndale on October 29 with thousands packing into the pedestrian mall.

Three people were taken to hospital after they fainted and few in the tightly-packed mall heard the opened speech by the Mayor Bill Parkinson, whose official party had to be escorted by security guards through the crowds.

Arndale manager John Woodruff admitted that the sheer number of visitors was bigger than expected. He said: “We were delighted with the opening. It must be the most fantastic day in Accrington for many years.”

The construction of the Accrington Arndale Centre

Coun Parkinson described it as a ‘magnificent’ focal point and one of the ‘biggest milestones in Accrington’s history’.

A special Observer supplement produced for the occasion read: "A new and exciting shopping era begins in Accrington when the eagerly awaited £7.5 million Arndale Centre opens its doors to the public.

"The indoor complex brings some of the best known high street names to the town providing shop facilities which boast the very best in variety and style. It is without doubt one of the biggest and most important schemes that Accrington has ever seen and one which is confidently expected to bring many more visitors to the town and provide a boost for other town centre traders."

A special Accrington Observer supplement to mark the opening of the new Accrington Arndale Centre on October 29, 1987

Earlier this summer Arndale bosses organised a series of family-fun events to mark the 30th anniversary.

Old photographs and newspaper cuttings of the Arndale have now gone on display at Accrington Library.

The site of the Arndale Centre will still be remembered by many people as the large open Broadway car park.

But older generations will know that the site was once dominated by the big rambling Union Buildings Mill on one side and the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and School on the other.