A Grand opening!

It's open! Wigan's new shopping centre, Grand Arcade, finally flung its doors wide open yesterday - more than 11 years after the project was first mooted.

Hundreds of shoppers waited anxiously outside before being waved in by shopping centre manager John Sanson, while thousands headed down the old Station Road site throughout the day.

John said: "I'm absolutely delighted that this moment has arrived. To see shoppers filing along through the arcade and into the shops is what makes all the hardwork worth it."

After more than two years working on site to transform the former home of The Ritz and Wigan Casino, staff from developers Modus were busy right up until the 10am opening applying the finishing touches.

More than 80 per cent of the 43 shops - three units are yet to be filled - were open with Debenhams acting as the anchor store.

New additions to the town centre include the likes of HMV, Waterstones, Bank, Hurley, Body Shop, Sports Direct, H&M and JD Sports.

The current Marks & Spencer and WH Smiths stores have been knocked through into the shopping centre while Next, River Island and Topshop have all up-rooted to the Grand Arcade.

Two years and 120m after work on site first began, project manager Mark Richardson was relieved to see shoppers finally going through the tills.

He said: "Every journey has to have a destination so to finally reach that destination and achieve what our team has is fantastic."

Log on to wigantoday.net this afternoon for a video vox pop of Your Views on the Grand Arcade.