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‘The Stately Pleasure Dome’: Radio 4 explores the poetry of intu Trafford Centre

22 March 2017

intu Trafford Centre’s architecture and design have become the focus of a brand new BBC Radio 4 arts documentary. Owner intu welcomed award-winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts to the centre where he met with staff, customers and the architects and designers involved in its creation as part of his mission to create a programme exploring its architectural and poetic legacy. His time there served as the inspiration for a new poem which is performed by intu staff in the documentary airing this Thursday (23rd March).

The Stately Pleasure Dome, based on Samuel Taylor Colleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, describes how the Manchester landmark’s iconic sense of place and design was inspired by global locations such as New Orleans and Chinatown, both celebrated in the decoration of its Orient food court.

“Early evening we reach port

The old Queen Mary brought us here

We are told there is a full moon in New York

A jazz band in the French quarter of New Orleans

In China town a summer rain is drying on the roof

In the piazza an old man is singing of lost love

This is the truth”

Manchester School of Art historian Rosemary Shirley and architect Paul Danson who designed the centre’s food court are among those interviewed by Michael as he examines intu Trafford Centre’s artistic importance and draws parallels with its design and the ‘stately pleasure dome’ of Colleridge’s Kubla Khan.

The famous shopping destination in TRAFFORDCITY is well known for its unique design, luxurious marble malls and renowned collection of retail and leisure brands but it’s the first time a poet has undertaken a project to explore the centre’s enduring appeal.

Gordon McKinnon, operations director at intu and a former centre director at intu Trafford Centre, said: “We were thrilled to welcome Michael Symmons Roberts and the team at BBC Radio 4 to intu Trafford Centre for a behind the scenes glimpse of how the centre’s unique design has helped it to remain one of the country’s most popular shopping and leisure destinations, bringing smiles to the faces of our thirty million customers a year.

“This fascinating documentary celebrates the continued importance and relevance of physical shopping destinations and in doing so, explores how they are often seen by their millions of loyal customers as much more than simply shopping centres.”

The Stately Pleasure Dome airs on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 21st March at 11.30am. Visit for more information.


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