Union Street’s Trinity Centre and the surrounding areas have gone through many changes over the years.
Long before the Trinity Centre existed, Union Street was full of hotels, shops and homes.
Aberdeen residents have been living and working in the city centre for centuries. In the early 1900s changes began to take shape as the needs of the people changed.
Union Bridge, separating the Palace Hotel from stores such as the McMillan toy shop, faced the train tracks and roads below. In 1908, architects began work to widen the bridge to accommodate bigger transports and to keep the bridge in good condition.
As the largest single-span granite bridge in the world, steel side spans were introduced, as were Kelly’s cats, black cast metal leopards by William Kelly which lined both sides of the bridge.
The cats were named for their creator William Kelly and, when the bridge’s south side developments began, a number were rescued for display in the city’s Duthie Park.
The improvements were made for structural reasons but they created a lasting base for developments further into the future, and history for Aberdeen.
On the grounds of the former Palace Hotel, a luxury accommodation where celebrities, politicians and royalty would stay in the city, now sits a Travelodge.
The hotel was a popular and upmarket venue that tragically burned down in 1941, resulting in six deaths. The burnt out building sat destroyed through wartime Britain before it was finally demolished in 1950.
The hotel wasn’t rebuilt for eight years, and a gap was left on the Union Street skyline until C&A and the Post Office built on the grounds.
Clothes retailer C&A operated from 1958 as a popular affordable clothing and fashion brand and was a popular chain in the UK until the 90s when the majority of UK stores shut.
After C&A closed, plans were launched to take the grounds back to their roots as the former store was transformed into a Travelodge, that remains busy and booked in the present day.
While not as fancy as the Palace, it calls back to a piece of Union Street history that takes the area back to its roots. The hotel acts as a popular stop for out-of-town visitors who are in need of some shopping.
The location sits just along from today’s Trinity Centre, attached by a row of shops and banks including Boots, Millets and Barclays.
However this row of shops was developed in the 60s, as construction began and shops such as shoe store Saxone’s began to pop up in Aberdeen.
With the bridge development, the store moved from its previous location across the empty bridge near McMillan’s toy shop.
McMillan’s premises saw a reduction from the 1940s as Union Street became busier with newer shops like Timpsons Shoes and Littlewoods.
The late 60s saw shops popping up all along the bridge throughout decade and onwards, however this changed in 1981, as plans for the Trinity Centre were announced.
The £20 million development began and progress quickly began, by November 1982 the steelwork construction was almost complete.
The Trinity Centre was named for the Trinity Hall which was located on Union Street prior to its move to the present site on Holburn Street.
From the beginning of construction in 1981 the centre opened in October of 1984.
Shops began to populate the venue quickly creating a central shopping hub for Aberdeen residents.
Among the first stores to make roots in the new Trinity Centre was Argos. Opening a few months into the beginning of the complex, Argos remained for 33 years until its closure in 2017.
The busy environment included food venues, clothes stores and jewellers.
Stores like Pizza Hut and Dorothy Perkins took residence facing Union Bridge, with troubled jewellers Ratners also occupying a store front before its 90s collapse.
The stores within the centre moved and changed through the years with staples like Littlewoods holding strong from the 60s until the early 2000s.
Union Street storefronts gradually shifted and modernised as consumer tastes changed. Bright bold colours and signage became part of the fabric of the Trinity Centre.
Units within the centre merged and changed over the years, with booksellers Ottakar’s taking over multiple units and occupying Union Street.
Ottakar’s shut its doors in 2006 before Waterstones took over, moving from their store further up Union Street where it stayed until the chain moved to the Bon Accord centre.
The interior of the centre has been through many changes over the years with the early 2000s seeing bright, bold signage and decoration.
In 2006 the Mall Company took over the establishment and it became known as The Mall Trinity, until December 2009 when the firm sold the centre on.
Shops like Primark moved from the Bon Accord Centre in 2006 to the former Littlewoods premises, which shut in 2006, creating a busy fast-paced shopping environment.
Primark is known for its affordable fashion that has only gained popularity in the years since the move.
As the Trinity Centre and surrounding area currently stand, much has changed from the original Union Street structure.
With new and improved buildings and developments it remains one of the most popular locations in the city with multiple connections and shops.
The centre currently houses stores including Schuh, Debenhams and Flying Tiger while old favourites like HMV remain popular.