Affleck’s Palace is one of the most distinguished shopping arcades in Europe today. A magnet for tourists and meeting place for students. Situated on the corner of Oldham Street, Church Street and Tib Street in what is now become known as the Northern Quarter. This once neglected part of the city centre, was deserted by the major retailers in the mid 70’s in favour of the Arndale Centre, is now enjoying a revitalization, aided by the influx of stylish cafe bars and shops.
Affleck’s Palace is the inspirational idea of James Walsh a Manchester born Hairdresser with a keen interest in the fashion industry. He observed the street fashion boom of the late 70’s and early 80’s and provided affordable outlets for the growing number of young designers to sell their wares.
Since opening in 1982, Affleck’s Palace has been no stranger to controversy. It survived a three year battle with Manchester City Council over Market Licensing Laws, managed to side step a bulldozer, as plans to demolish this four storey gothic building to accommodate alterations to the bus and tram routes within the city centre, almost came to fruition, and then more recently an IRA bomb. Despite these and a few other setbacks, Affleck’s Palace has provided the foundation for a number of successful enterprises, and continues to attract the budding entrepreneur.
The growth of the Manchester based music scene in the 1980’s was part and parcel of the overall fabric and very much inter twined with the popular appeal of Affleck’s Palace. The range of ‘T’ shirts made famous by Identity clothing, such as ‘On the sixth day God created MANchester’ became street uniform for Manchester’s youth. Affleck’s became one of the focal points during this era, attracting journalists and film crews world wide, and still does. Thousands flock at the weekend in search of the alternative and they may well find it. There are approximately 50 outlets selling a wide range of goods, from Lava lamps to collectables, plus a whole host of other goods and services in between, there is something for everybody. The main attraction is the assortment of clothing on sale. Shoppers can pick up surfwear, ethnic, gothic, clubwear, rubber, PVC , chainmail. Original Vintage clothing from Victorian to 1970’s and of course. a multitude of wacky and wearable second hand.
Variations on the theme of Affleck’s Palace have popped up in many cities in the UK but despite this Affleck’s Palace is and will remain the original house of style and contemporary culture.