Do you remember a time when the shopping metropolis we’ve come to know as Lakeside didn’t exist?

Despite it now being a major tourist destination in itself for Essex, it was only less than 30 years ago that the former chalk quarry started to be transformed into one of the largest out of town shopping destinations in the country.

But before the famous dome, Marks and Spencer and a TV documentary came along there was the retail park.

A drawing recovered by the Echo shows an initial concept design from 1984.

Though not looking like what we know Lakeside to be today, it still resembles a complex lying beside water and surrounded by a vast choice of retailers.

The very first addition was the Tesco megastore, which still stands on the same spot off of Arterial Road, West Thurrock, in 1985.

Surrounded by chalk, mud and water, it was a far cry from the industry and abundance of retail that now surrounds it.

It was then that the boom began, with the retail park next door opening its doors in 1987, before construction began on the shopping centre itself in 1988.

Echo: Construction – Thameside building work in 1989

The centre made its grand opening in October 1990, and was unveiled by Princess Alexandra.

Of course the centre has gone on get bigger, as well as the retail park, to become one of the most successful in the country.

Often forgotten amongst the success of Lakeside success is the neighbouring town of Chafford Hundred, which started springing up alongside the centre in 1989. Chafford Hundred has gone on to be one of the most desirable places in Thurrock to live, with its short journey time into London one of its biggest selling points.

Echo: Lakeside looking east from junction 31 of the M25 in 1980

Echo: Drawing – the initial concept for the Lakeside retail park in 1984

  • Special thanks to Thurrock Museum Volunteers for supplying the pictures.