Desolate. Windswept. Like a vision from Mad Max but with Greggs and discount shops as the pantomime baddies. Stanley suffers from an ideal location in the North East, which means its commercial doom.
Once upon a time, Stanley had a commercial heart, albeit recovering from the Thatcherite industrial genocide that dispensed with the coalmines, shipbuilding and the steelworks up the road at Consett in 1980. However one thing was chiefly responsible for crushing this weak recovery: the opening of the Metrocentre in 1986. With it being a mere 15 minutes from this monster shopping centre and 20 from Newcastle and Durham, the commercial heart of this town was eviscerated in the years that followed as car ownership took off.
There were originally 4 nightclubs and many bars. Cue 5 major town centre fires in 20 years (nothing proven, M’Lord) and there is nowhere left to go to. Other than the aforementioned cities or the many working mens’ clubs limping on as their clientele die out.
Couple that with third generation glue sniffers, career sickies and dolies and you have a recipe for a large pocket of urban poverty in a beautiful rural setting that remains stubbornly hardcore. And so it has remained for 30+ years. What is left is the usual s**t-stain detritus of betting shops, charity shops, greetings card emporiums (drug cartel-fronts) and sub-Poundland establishments that only take money out of the local economy and provide bugger-all employment. When Woolworths left, that was the remaining high street name apart from a tiny Boots that is half-stocked, from a town centre that had Burtons, Walter Willsons, Presto (Safeway), Homebase (now an end-of-line Argos reseller), Kwik Save, Lipton’s, the Co-Op (a Huge fire removed its imposing Edwardian premises in 2008) and Northern Rock.
In summary, with the gaps in the front street due to fires, the lack of ANY worthwhile investment and the sparse commercial centre, Stanley looks like Hamburg in 1946. I don’t think they’re eating dogs and rats yet, but it’s only a matter of time as those benefit sanctions start to bite. I am a dismayed native of the place. Let’s bulldoze and start again for f**k’s sake.