The story behind intu Trafford Centre’s name

17 October 2018

Prior to the arrival of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894, what we now know as Trafford Park was, in fact, a five-square-mile deer park which provided an impressive rural backdrop for the residence of one of the most noble families of that time – the De Traffords.

Post construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, this rural idyll became marred. As the steam from ships arriving from across the globe plumed over their country estate, the De Trafford family became dismayed at the encroaching industrialisation – and the sale of their land became inevitable. Lack of funding halted any dreams of purchasing Trafford Park for leisure use, and on June 24th 1896, the entire estate was snapped up by the London-based financier Ernest Terah Hooley for £360,000 - paving the way for the world’s first industrial estate.

In 1922, the Manchester Ship Canal Company purchased 2,000 acres of the De Trafford’s estate and successfully promoted the land as the Barton Dock Estate using the Ship Canal as a selling point. The strategy paid off and it began to attract industrial giants such as Kellogg’s, ICI and P&P and with them brought additional revenue to the port via shipping tolls.

But one 300-acre parcel of land remained agricultural until the 1980s – the site of today’s intu Trafford Centre. By 1987, Trafford Park’s industrial fortunes were in such decline that the whole park was designated an Urban Development Area by Central Government. The Park’s regeneration was to be secured as a matter of national priority.

In the early planning stages, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council supported The Trafford Centre but other bodies were not so enthusiastic. Along with the retail proposals for other sites, The Trafford Centre planning applications were called in by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Nicholas Ridley, for his ultimate consideration.

The Proposals for The Trafford Centre were then subjected to joint consideration by a panel of planning inspectors at a series of public inquiries which became the most exhaustive ever held over any commercial development proposal in the UK.

It was not until the House of Lords confirmed the validity of The Trafford Centre’s plans in 1995 that construction was able to proceed. 

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