New independent businesses give Ilkeston town centre a fresh look

Ilkeston business feature, business owner Shirley Rhodes in her new shop Shirlz Den
Ilkeston business feature, business owner Shirley Rhodes in her new shop Shirlz Den

There is often talk of Ilkeston not being ‘like it was back in the day’ when it comes to town centre shops.

But walking up the town you can’t fail to notice that new independent businesses have started to pop on Bath Street, breathing life back into the area.

In recent months there have been at least four new businesses moving in to the bottom end of Bath Street, including one clothes shop which stands out due to the giant robot in the window.

Andrea Toohey opened men’s clothing shop The Shed at the bottom end of Bath Street in September. She said business had been good since then and is preparing for Christmas by stocking a range of women’s gifts as well as men’s.

Former taxi driver Shirley Rhodes has just opened Shirl’z Den which stocks children’s toys, gadgets and accessories for children’s bedrooms.

She said: “I opened five weeks ago and have taken the lease on for a year. I’m hoping it’s going to work as I have never done anything like this before. I was a taxi driver for a local firm in Ilkeston for 25 years and fancied doing something different .”

Other new businesses which have opened in the town centre recently include Cafe Au Lait coffee shop.

Gents barbers’ Salon 63 has also expanded and now has a salon two doors down for women.

Other success stories include Patti House restaurant which has doubled in size since moving from Bath Street to South Street.

The ‘Tiser reported last week that since Patti House opened on South Street at the end of September, it has employed a full-time chef, three front-of-house staff, and two kitchen porters.

It’s a Kind of Magick on Bath Street certainly stands out and owner Janet Wakefield hopes it will help bring great improvement to the look of lower Bath Street.

She opened at the start of October and said that other Bath Street businesses had been very supportive.

Though there are still empty shops things do appear to be on the up. The closure of Woolworths came as a blow to the town but a project is in process to make it into a community asset is making progress. Earlier this year funding was awarded to help The Arena church reach its goal of making the building into something that will benefit the town.

Erewash Borough Council has been working on the regeneration of Ilkeston town centre for some time with schemes aimed at encouraging traders to the town.

Speaking to the ‘Tiser, councillor Mike Powell, lead member for regeneration and planning on Erewash Borough Council, said: “Regeneration is a package, it’s about a whole community and making a place what we can in the future and doing whatever we can within the budget constraints.”

The council has introduced a number of schemes to encourage people into the town, including a one-hour free parking pilot which is still in operation.

Council leader ouncillor Chris Corbett said it was a great success but had proved to be expensive for the authority.

He said: “However it is money well spent because it has brought people into the town.”