Victorian shopping arcade in Hull sold to family firm

Hull's oldest Victorian shopping arcade is ringing the changes after being sold to new owners.

Andy Allenby (centre) with tenants Luke Foster of Two Gingers Coffee House and Lucy Johnson of The Magpies Den.

Paragon Arcade was built in 1891 by Sir Alfred Gelder, a prominent Hull architect and politician, after whom one of the city's main streets is named.

These days it is known for its eclectic mix of independent traders who sell hand-made cakes, antique jewellery, vintage clothing and coffee.

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It was in the hands of a local family for around 60 years, but has now been sold to Allenby Commercial, whose managing director Andy Allenby has long wanted to buy the building.

Its tenants can now open on Sundays and the firm, which has carried out a number of high-profile developments, including the conversion of shops next to Hull Minster, to the Hideout Hotel, is refurbishing a number of empty units to attract new traders.

It also has plans to restore their shop fronts to their original condition.

Contracts manager Charlie Allenby said: “Paragon Arcade has always attracted local, independent businesses which add to the city centre’s creative and cultural scene and that’s something we want to encourage.

“Andy fell in love with the place when he was a kid. In recent years he kept in touch with the agents and he became aware very quickly when the owners decided to sell.

"By selling to us, they are passing it on to another family business which is committed to tasteful and stylish development of the city centre.

“We have already started work on tidying up the empty units and we will be offering flexible deals to try to attract businesses which will be a good fit with the existing tenants.

"Paragon Arcade is a unique experience and even though it’s small you can spend quality time in there buying flowers and traditional sweets, drinking great coffee and getting your hair cut!

"We will restore the shop fronts to their original condition, and we’ll take a modern approach to marketing using social media with @paragon_arcade_hull on Instagram.

"We’ll also make the most of the magnificent roof to present indoor events which will add to the life and warmth of the arcade.”

Luke Foster, who opened the Two Gingers Coffee House in the arcade with colleague Mayo Binnie during the summer, said: “Business has been really good so far and has improved since the Allenby family started opening on Sundays.

It’s been hard work because there are only two of us with a Saturday guy, but we manage because it’s fun and it doesn’t feel like work.

“We’ve got some great neighbours in the arcade and we hope to see some more soon."