A new, temporary artwork for The Arcade in Dewsbury has been unveiled as part of the Dewsbury Creative Town Arts Programme. 

Let’s Talk Shop tells the unique stories, memories, and anecdotes of one of Dewsbury’s most iconic buildings. These have been carefully interwoven into two huge pieces of art which feature in the main entrances to the Arcade. 

The listed building was built in 1899 but sadly closed to the general public in 2014. It was purchased by Kirklees Council in May 2020 as one of its lead projects in the Dewsbury Blueprint and is currently preparing to become Britain’s first community run shopping centre.


The creators of Let’s Talk Shop are Daylight Robbery which is made up of Dewsbury based, multi-disciplinary artist Aidan D’Abet and frequent collaborator Kelly O’Reilly. As part of the design process, the artists heard hundreds of memories and anecdotes after setting up a space for the people of Dewsbury to share their stories in an empty shop unit in the Arcade over the summer. 

Councillor Eric Firth, Cabinet Member for Town Centres said:

“This is another step in the right direction for Dewsbury Town Centre, the arcade project is part of the bigger plan for the Creative Town. Having an ongoing public art programme in place provides an opportunity for the council to engage positively with the community in a new and exciting way. I am pleased to see the Arcade works moving forward and how the use of public art can bring this important building back to life.”

Artist Aidan D’Abet, added:

“When we started the public engagement it soon became very clear to us just how many fond memories people have of The Arcade. It was therefore important that the people who shopped and worked here take centre stage in our work. Eating at Ann’s Pantry, buying pick ‘n’ mix at The Candyman, listening to music at Autys or Christmas shopping at J&B – everyone has a special memory of The Arcade in Dewsbury.”

Their visitors included Barbara, who got her first Saturday job working in Miss Staines Haberdasher and recalled her memorable employer wearing Victorian-style clothing even in the 1950s. There was also Ray who, along with many others, reminisced about the seasonal spectacle of Santa climbing a ladder outside J&B department store.

The Dewsbury Creative Town Arts Programme is a £200,000 initiative funded by Kirklees Council as part of its Blueprint plans to revitalise the town centre. The arts programme, which is produced by arts organisation Beam, includes a range of permanent and temporary public art interventions at various sites across Dewsbury. It also aims to provide residents, businesses, and community groups with an array of opportunities to engage with art and get involved in the commissioning process. 

Photos (c) Phil Drakett.

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