Tricorn Centre Portsmouth
The Tricorn Centre at Market Way in Portsmouth's City Centre was a mixed use 10 storey building incorporating a multistorey car park, shops and retail units, supermarket, market, two pubs, a petrol station, a nightclub and at one time the largest laser quest site in Europe.
The centre was designed by the Owen Luder Partnership and overseen by architect Rodney Gordon. The building was constructed from concrete in the brutalist style of the 1960's influenced by the work of Le Corbusier the Swiss-French architect and pioneer of modern architecture.
Opened in 1966 The Tricorn Centre was so named because in plan view, looking down from above, it resembled a three pointed hat or tricorn.
From the very start people either loved or hated the centre, in the 1980's it was voted as the third ugliest building in the UK and Prince Charles described it as "a mildewed lump of elephant droppings".
Designed by Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon for developers E Alec Coleman Investments Ltd, The Tricorn Centre design team also included Peter Abbott, Victor Wybow and Malcolm Wood. It was agreed at a very early stage that the concrete structure would be exposed and the texture of the concrete would be created directly by the timber shuttering used to form the concrete.
Although not quite connected to the main existing shopping area of Commercial Road, the 23 acre Tricorn Centre Shopping Zone was marketed as being "a natural magnet to the rest of South Hampshire" and also described in marketing literature as "a trail-blazer for even more ambitious schemes".
There was a Fine Fare supermarket at the Tricorn Centre and one of the first Virgin Megastores, but there was a reluctance of large anchor stores to move into the development and away from Commercial Road, so the businesses there were mainly smaller traders. The city council moved the fruit and vegetable market which had always been held in Commercial Road and relocated it into the ground floor of the Tricorn Centre in an attempt to stimulate footfall.
During the 1980's the centre started to become run down and neglected, structural steel work within the concrete structure began to rust and damage the concrete, in some areas stalactites grew hanging down from ceilings and wall edges.
There were various proposals to try and improve The Tricorn Centre, Finch Macintosh Architects proposed adding 50 two storey maisonettes on the upper two decks of the building, describing it as an Urban Village. Architect Mick Morris proposed some very striking colour schemes for painting the bare concrete exteriors. The Twentieth Century Society and the Portsmouth Society, led by Celia Clark and Roger James, attempted to have the building listed but in March 2004 the application for listing was rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Ultimately after years of indecision it was decided that the entire centre be demolished and a new shopping centre built to replace it. Demolition started on the 24th March 2004 and took 9 months to complete, however the new shopping centre 'Northern Quarter' has so far not been built and the site remains as an underutilised car park still.
Memories of The Tricorn Centre.
Although the Tricorn Centre attracted a lot of negative feedback during it's life time many local people loved the building, the facilities it provided and still have fond memories of it today.
Some of these memories are reproduced here, in response to the Tweet shown below.
The Tricorn Centre. We are researching a new page about The Tricorn Centre. Do you have any memories of the Tricorn Club, The Casbah, The Golden Bell or the shops like Mr Clive? We're interested in memories good or bad. Love it or hate it?
- The Village in Charlotte Street was the "in place" in the late 70-80s loved it. Also Snob was fabulous. (Judith Badham)
- I always remember going to see my uncle and auntie whenever I was over with my mates doing a bit of shopping. He ran the fruit and veg stall in Charlotte Street after my grandad. (Wes Hayward)
- Halfway towards the comic shop was an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom arcade machine, which helped make it a bit more comforting. Do you remember the bookshop around the corner from Mondo comics that had box after box of early 80s US comics for something like 10p each? (Matt Richardson)
- Loads: Granny's nightclub on a Friday night, as well as the Virgin Megastore and Domino Records. (Iain Taylor)
- I bunked off school to go to the record shop in the Tricorn where I bought a copy of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' picture cover 7inch on the day it came out :) The detention was worth it. (Tom8enjamin)
- I remember food shopping in Fine Fare supermarket and buying household stuff from The Reject Shop. And the platform shoes that most girls in Portsmouth would buy from the market in the Tricorn (SaSa B)
- I worked for Freshwater the owners of the Tricorn have 101 memories and if anyone tells how the flats were damp / never lived in ignore them that is another of the many often told Tricorn myths (Bob Beech)
- Granny's night club saw King Kurt there brilliant night. (Andy Hayward)
- Other frequently visited places in the Tricorn: The Himalaya, Hong Kong Royal a sauna right next to the Bell. The Village store, @bobbeach will also remember dark dingy hideaway's we called the Bat Caves, many a frisson took place there. (David)
- Tricorn - gateway to Charlotte Street. Parking @ Pitt St baths car park admiring the many dark Blue #RN vehicles, visiting Grannies club, the smell of Mr Clive, sounds Pervy (a leather jacket shop) and enjoying many visits to Virgin record shop from day one. (DAM)
- I remember this monstrosity....it never looked as good as the picture....the market was sound though. (Paul L)
- Always remember as a kid going in and looking for the sports corner (can't remember the name of the shop) and heading straight over there. Find memories of the Tricorn! (James)
- Domino Records..The Chinese supermarket. The shoe shop on the front where we used to buy our beads for our Pasty shoes in the early 90s. Mr Clive.....We used to get in that tower by the car park and sit on the roof. Ahhhhhhhhh The stale odour of piss and mountains of pigeon shit everywhere. It was like shopping in the USSR during the cold war years. But it will always hold a special place in my heart. (JimmyJammys01 via Reddit)
The Tricorn Centre Promotional Documents
Images in this section courtesy of Andy Bart via Twitter. Thanks Andy.
The Tricorn Club
The Tricorn Club opened in September 1968 and was perceived as a late night cabaret, restaurant and wine bar. Disco nights, called the Monday Club, were held on Monday evenings for the younger set. The Tricorn Club restaurant served four course meals at a set price, the club was licenced to open until 2am.
This image of The Tricorn Club promotional flyer is courtesy of Bob Beech via Twitter, thanks Bob.
On the opening night Dickie Valentine, a famous British pop singer, was the star attraction. Dickie who had previously sung with the Ted Heath Orchestra (big band), had achieved two No 1 hit records with Finger of Suspicion and Christmas Alphabet as well as a string of other top ten hits.
Membership at the Tricorn Club was initially £2 - 2 shillings a year, with a minimum age of 18. The house band were The Mood Indigo in 1969 they were replaced by the Mel Douglas Set.
The club aimed to host the best British and European Cabaret and musical acts available.
The Tricorn Club hosted a wide range of famous and soon to be famous acts including Little and Large, Argent, Slade, Thunderclap Newman, Barclay James Harvest, Thin Lizzy, The Sweet, Roxy Music, Golden Earing, Judas Priest. BBC Radio 1 held club sessions and broadcasts from the club with DJ's such as David Symonds, Dave Cash and Noel Edmonds.
After it's closure The Tricorn Club was renamed as Gabriellas for a short period in the early 1970's and then became Granny's Nighspot in the mid 1970's until the closure of the Tricorn Centre in 2004.
Granny's Night Club, The Tricorn, Portsmouth
Granny's Nightspot, originally The Tricorn Club, was located on the first floor of The Tricorn Centre. Below are two tickets to Grannys Alternative Disco Night. One for the first night in January 1983, image courtesy of DAM @crawmo via Twitter, and the second image courtesy of David Bonney via Twitter.
The distinctive Granny's logo, seen here on David Lloyd's business card, was designed by graphic designer Norman Leuillette.
Norman who trained at Portsmouth College of Art and Design, also played bass guitar in the local 5 piece band Flyin Hi along with Jim Foreman (guitar), Keith Whymark (vocals), Bill Swadling (keyboards), and Pete Hobby (drums).
Granny's was famous for having a shiny silver tree in the middle of the dance floor, not sure why it was there though?