Spreading good luck was the symbolic meaning behind a Christmas tree planting ceremony to mark a milestone in the construction of two new stores at Chester’s Grosvenor Shopping Centre.
Middlewich-based Pochin’s Ltd has been busy building large units for TK Maxx and Sports Direct, which will open in spring 2015, with the construction phase nearing its end.
A new glass atrium has been created to bring in light and create the ‘wow’ factor for the double-storey frontages.
Managing director Jon Pochin conducted the ‘topping out’ ceremony on the roof of the new scheme, accompanied by Roger Gorham, director of Bride Hall, which co-owns the centre along with The Carlyle Group.
Mr Pochin explained: “The ceremony dates back hundreds of years, the origins of which people dispute, but it’s an old Scandinavian ceremony and was really about appeasing the tree Gods that they believed they’d displaced when they were building structures.
“As a way of doing that when the timber frame got to the highest point they tended to put either the branch of a tree on the highest point of the frame or they placed a tree on the highest point and it was meant to bring good luck to the buildings.
“Today we still carry on with that tradition, usually not working with timber frames but we tend to signify milestones in the construction programme, usually when buildings get water-tight, hence us being here today.
“I’m fairly confident we haven’t displaced any tree Gods while we’ve been constructing this building but our presence here in Chester and the work we’ve been doing has caused quite a bit of disruption and inconvenience to tenants and users of the shopping centre so it’s right we are here today.
“It marks us getting towards the completion of our works and TK Maxx and Sports Direct coming into the shopping centre and life within the shopping centre returning to normality.”
The ‘topping out’ ceremony was followed by a presentation attended by councillors and planners plus representatives of Cheshire Renaissance and Marketing Cheshire.
Meanwhile, Pochin’s is also working on an £8m investment across the road in Pepper Street which will see four restaurants opening around the same time as the new stores.
Work is under way to create the 25,000 sq ft dining quarter within former retail premises, with plenty of outdoor seating.
Looking at the frontage left to right, South American cuisine will be offered by Las Iguanas in the old Chateau furniture store, within a three-storey scheme incorporating an open roof terrace, next door will be two-storey The Restaurant Bar and Grill, followed by ground floor only Coast to Coast, an American bar and restaurant and, finally, two-storey Mexican restaurant Chimichanga.