Hempstead Valley Shopping centre (aka Savacentre) near Gillingham Kent was constructed in the late 1970s just outside the village of Hempstead. It opened on 17th October 1978 so has just celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2018. These photos showing the construction of Hempstead Valley were kindly sent by Chris Shade. You can see the large sign showing the original name of Savacentre. A current photo of Savacentre is shown on the Hempstead Valley website

Since the 30th anniversary in 2008 there has been significant redevelopment at the Hempstead Valley shopping centre to modernise areas of it. You can view the plans on the Hempstead Valley website here When it was completed in 2015 it made a huge difference to the appeal of the centre as a shopping and leisure destination with restaurants added outside.

What may seem commonplace now was groundbreaking in 1978 as there were very few other out of town shopping centres of this size at the time. Hempstead Valley was the second Savacentre (Washington Tyne & Wear opened in 1977). At the time of opening Savacentre was one of the largest out of town shopping centres in the South East. The original Picnic Parlour was the first Food Court in the UK. You can see more info about Sainsburys Savacentre here

When originally opened the main shop was Sainsburys Savacentre, the brand they originally created for their large hypermarkets. At the time Sainsburys was by far the largest supermarket in the UK with Tesco trailing far behind – a far cry from the current situation with Tesco leading the field. The originally Hempstead Valley offered 250,000 square feet of shopping space but when the centre was redeveloped in the early 1990s with an extension and new shops like M&S being added, this was increased to 330,000 square feet.

The challenge is to remember all the original shops that were there when the centre opens….Sainsburys, Presto (which then became Safeway) - but which others?
So far the following shops have been suggested for the original opening

NSS (Newsagents) then became Forbuoys
Our Price
Post Office (not one of the original shops)
Sainsburys Savacentre
Boots
Thomas Cook
Presto Supermarket
Wimpy Burger Bar
Spud-U-Like

Later additions when the extension was added in early 1990s were WHSmith, Marks & Spencer.

Notice in the aerial shot the area to the bottom right which was developed for large housing estates shortly after the shot was taken.

Photos on this page are clickable to view higher resolution versions.

 

Savacentre, Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundabout

Looking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundabout


Petrol station would be to middle right of photo

Photos of Savacentre Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way

Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way

Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot

Photos of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978

Looking towards Hempstead Valley from roundabout
Petrol station would be to middle right of photo

Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978: Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way

Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way
Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot

Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978

Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1980
Sharsted Way runs along left hand side of photo

Comments   

0 #1 Carol Need 2018-10-23 07:47
Remember the early savacentre really well. Loved the water feature in the middle. It is still a great place to visit and long may that continue. :-)
Donot live local anymore but do enjoy a visit when I come home.
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