Friday, 9 September 2016

Wayfarers Arcade National Heritage Day Exhibition

One of the sights of Southport, the Wayfarers Arcade is the jewel in the crown of Lord Street.

In my role as Mayor I speak a lot to visitors to the town and this is the place many of them talk about, this is the picture they send home on their social media or by postcard.

Last night as part of National Heritage Day the Arcade launched an exhibition that charted its history since 1898 when it was opened. Back then it was named the Leyland Arcade ( after the Liberal MP) and was the idea of  the entrepreneur John Humphrey Plummer.

The Arcade management, led by Yvonne Burns, has put on an excellent exhibition and for part of it they have collaborated with The Atkinson. I had the pleasure of meeting the women who looks after the collection- part of which is on show. The dress we are standing in front of was made at Boothroyds of Southport . The impossibly thin waste required the exhibits to be modelled on child sized manikins. It helps explain why there was such a vigorous campaign for 'rational dress' in the Victorian era, a precursor of our present day concerns about the impact on mental health of the 'body images' promoted by many in the fashion industry

For most people in Southport the Arcade is associated with the Pedlar family who were involved with the building for several generation. The Arcade recently left the ownership of the Pedlar family and was transfer to the company that also owns Beales- the department store on Lord Street that also opens into the Arcade.

It was good to see so many of the Pedlar family at the launch and the former MD Nicola Lynch nee Pedlar spoke about the families involvement over decades with the Arcade. The event also gave me the opportunity to meet with the new owners Panther Securities PLC a successful property
investment company. It was good to see John Humphrey Perloff attend the launch and to hear him speak about his ambition for the Arcade (note-if I have this right- he has the same fore names as the original owner) . It was particularly pleasing to hear him outline the companies approach to retail management that has included lowering the rents and striving to maintain full occupancy. Judging from their contribution last night I think Southport has good reason to hope that they will be worthy custodians of this important part of the town. (I shall not digress into thoughts about Mr Philip Green)

The evening concluded with Arthur Pedlar introducing us to Verco the clown, but that will be the subject of another posting.

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