The city’s best-kept secrets
If you love shopping then Durham Tees Valley has everything you could want – from eye-catching chic, big-name high street stores to bustling markets. The area boasts designer boutiques and a fantastic mix of award-winning independent shops.
Durham offers all this – with the added delight of wandering through its narrow winding streets in the shadow of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The open-air Prince Bishop Shopping Centre offers more than 40 leading retailers and a range of boutiques. Just across the river by Framwellgate Bridge the £30m Gates leisure complex will open in 2018 including a multiplex cinema, restaurants, and riverside promenade.
The beautifully-restored Durham Indoor Market, built in 1851, is a real gem. Several of its 70-odd traders have been in business over 30 years. Meanwhile, the Market Place hosts Durham City Farmers’ Market every third Thursday of the month and the Outdoor Retail Market every Saturday.
One of the bustling city’s best-kept secrets is the riverside Fowlers Yard. The red brick former stables and warehouses, behind the Indoor Market, provide a creative space for professional artists, crafts people and creative businesses. Other independents worth a visit are The Mugwump, a self-styled unique boutique offering three floors of designer fashion, accessories, gifts, homeware and art.
Award-winning Moon Jewellery, in Silver Street, brings together individual artisans and acclaimed designers who make hand-made jewellery. Shoes and self-expression fuse at Scorpio Shoes in Saddler Street which stocks an impressive range of fashion brands – supplying everything from brogues and creepers to skater shoes, with many vivid colours and designs. Gateway World, housed in St Nicholas Church in the Market Place, offers a wide range of Fair Trade items, plus crafts and food products.
The beautifully-restored market, built in 1851, is a real gem. Several of its 70-odd traders have been in business over 30 year. Meanwhile, the Market Place hosts a farmers’ market every third Thursday of the month and a retail market every Saturday
Bargain hunters should head some 10 miles east to the north east’s biggest outlet shopping centre just off the A19 at Dalton Park, near Seaham. With ample free parking, it contains more than 60 outlet shops, ranging from high street brands such as M&S, Next and Gap to designer labels, with up to 50 per cent off. There is also a multiplex cinema and many restaurants.
Further down the coast at Hartlepool is Middleton Grange, one of the region’s largest shopping centres, as well as the Hartlepool Marina shopping developments. Middleton Grange hosts more than 80 businesses including such familiar names as Wilko and Primark plus a busy indoor market with over 40 stalls.
Hartlepool Marina is divided into three retail parks, all with free parking and home to the major high street names, together with several restaurants, a bingo hall and cinema. Meanwhile, Hartlepool Farmers’ Market offers more than 30 stalls selling a wide range of produce from meats and fish to crepes in the Historic Quay car park every second Saturday in the month. The open air Hartlepool Market trades every Thursday in West Side car park.
There’s certainly no shortage of shopping opportunities in Middlesbrough with four shopping centres – the Cleveland Centre, Hillstreet Shopping Centre, Captain Cook Square and Dundas Shopping Mall – just a few minutes’ walk from each other. The pedestrianised Linthorpe Road and Newport Road are also home to flagship stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser together with Psyche. Psyche, a pioneering and palatial independent store, offers more than 200 designer brands and has earned national acclaim for its style and innovation.
With ample free parking, it contains more than 60 outlet shops, ranging from high street brands such as M&S, Next and Gap to designer labels, with up to 50 per cent off. There is also a multiplex cinema, restaurants and a hotel
The town’s cool quarter
Award-winning designer Kate Fearnley, whose creations have adorned many a red carpet celeb, has a concession in Psyche as well as a nearby appointment-only boutique. Also in Linthorpe Road is a cutting edge fashion store Triads together with Concept, offering a range of home accessories, silver jewellery and gifts. This independent spirit continues in Baker Street, which has established a reputation as the town’s cool quarter. It’s home to vintage fashion stores Disgraceland and CeCe Vintage.
Neighbouring Stockton’s claim to fame is its High Street, the widest in the UK, which has been transformed by a two-and-a half year £20m redevelopment. The scheme, which includes new paving, seating, artworks and water fountain, is designed to create a more inviting atmosphere for shoppers as well as a focal point for the 700-year-old traditional market held every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Castlegate Shopping Centre, home to a mix of 70 independent and big name retailers, lies at one end of the High Street while at the other is the newest shopping development, Wellington Square, which contains more than 40 stores, including Debenhams.For gemstone jewellery with a Norwegian twist, go to Made by Marianne, or for something completely different, visit Who-Ray! The Silver Street gift and memorabilia shop has a particular fondness for Dr Who, Star Wars and sci-fi in general.
Teesside Shopping Park is just off the A66 near Stockton and is a popular destination across the Tees Valley with its ease of access, free parking and extended opening hours. It offers fashion outlets such as H&M, TK Maxx, Jacamo and Schuh together with homeware and electrical stores. A huge selection of restaurants, multiplex cinema, bowling alley and casino means it has something for everyone.
Independent spirit continues in Baker Street, which has established a reputation as the town’s cool quarter. It’s home to vintage fashion stores Disgraceland and CeCe Vintage
Traditional high street
Yarm, near Stockton, was voted by BBC Breakfast viewers as Britain’s Best High Street for Something Old and Something New. Its Georgian charm invites you to explore its wide, largely-cobbled, High Street which envelops the iconic Dutch-style town hall. Here you’ll find the family-owned department store of Strickland & Holt, a fixture for more than 150 years, selling everything from quality fashion to cards, toys and a huge range of gifts. It also has a café and artisan bakery. It’s part of the town’s successful blend of traditional and contemporary together with a great selection of cafes and bars.
For designer clothing check out The House. Attitudes aims to offer women a stylish alternative to high street fashion, with designer brands sold in a friendly environment.
Darlington still retains a traditional high street which links to The Cornmill Shopping Centre, with over 40 stores, and the smaller Queens Street Shopping Centre. The flagship Binns House of Fraser department store sits on the corner of pedestrianised High Row and offers a large range of premium fashion together with cosmetics and household goods, as well as an upper floor restaurant providing great views across the town.
The Victorian Covered Market has been at the heart of the town since 1863 and continues to retain a vibrant mix of retailers, many of whom have been trading for more than 50 years. An open market is held in the centre every Monday and Saturday while the Sunday People’s market is held on the first Sunday of each month on Blackwellgate.
Yarm, near Stockton, was voted by BBC Breakfast viewers as Britain’s Best High Street for Something Old and Something New. Its Georgian charm invites you to explore its wide, largely-cobbled, High Street which envelops the iconic Dutch-style town hall
There are more than 200 independent shops in Darlington. For a unique experience, Grange Road offers a wealth of upmarket independents ranging from a host of designer fashion to homeware. One of the most original shops is Guru in Blackwellgate, selling everything from incense sticks and ethnic clothing, to fancy dress and fun gifts, while stylish Leggs in Skinnergate offers designer fashion for both sexes. For those with a sweet tooth, it is worth looking out for the Retro Sweet Shop in Priestgate, which sells a vast range, including American candy and ice cream smoothies made from any sweet or chocolate bar you choose.
The Victorian seaside town of Saltburn has a number of independent stores such as high-quality gift shop Brambles, which stocks everything from scented candles and children’s dinner sets to jewellery. For a tasty treat visit Chocolini’s, also on Milton Street, where chocolatiers create a bespoke range of chocolate gifts, as well as serving up delicious drinking chocolate and coffees. Saltburn Farmers’ Market is held every second Saturday of the month from March until December, except August.
The cobbled Westgate in Guisborough is the setting for the town’s traditional market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with a Farmers’ Market every second Saturday of the month, except August. The town is also home to the independent Guisborough Bookshop which stocks many new titles and has a great children’s section and won the Best Independent Bookstore Retailer of Greeting Cards in the North award in 2017. The town also has Bike Scene, one of the region’s leading mountain bike shops.
If you like browsing for a second-hand bargain the car boot sale held every Thursday and Sunday throughout the year at Sedgefield Racecourse is vast, especially during the summer months.
Everything you need to know about Durham Tees Valley
Where to eat in Durham Tees Valley
The best things to do in Durham Tees Valley
The best nightlife in Durham Tees Valley
Your guide to arts and culture in Durham Tees Valley