Middlebrook is the UK’s largest retail and leisure park. Located in Horwich, Bolton, it is easy to reach by car, train and bus. It offers over 60 high street stores, restaurants and leisure facilities, including Hollywood Bowl and Vue cinema.
The park covers over 200 acres and is a fully integrated mixed-use development. It is home to top brand head offices such as AO.com, Keoghs, Axa, NHS and RBS, and over 700 residential homes.
Middlebrook sits beside the Toughsheet Community Stadium, home to Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and has two onsite hotels, the Premier Inn Bolton and Bolton Stadium Hotel.
The park offers free seasonal events for all the family. It also has an onsite chaplaincy team, The Middlebrook Angels, who work with retailers, support and organise their own events, and are fully involved with the local community and charities.
Cinema, Toughsheet Community Stadium, and Leisure Facilities
The park boasts the largest concentration of entertainment and leisure facilities in Bolton. These include the 12-screen Vue cinema, the Hollywood Bowl bowling alley, Bolton Arena, and the ground of Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
List of Shops
Shops here at the time of writing (2023) include:
- American Golf – Improve your golf game with the help of American Golf’s wide range of equipment and accessories. The store offers clubs, clothing, shoes, and more from top brands to suit all skill levels.
- Asda – Stock up on groceries, clothing, and homeware at Asda, a popular supermarket known for its wide range of products and affordable prices. Customers can also take advantage of their in-store pharmacy and optician services.
- Bensons for Beds – Shop for comfortable and stylish beds, mattresses, and bedroom furniture.
- Boots – Well-known retailer offering everything from cosmetics to prescription medications. In addition to their product offerings, they also provide services such as vaccinations and health consultations.
- Card Factory – Find the perfect card, gift, and party supplies for any occasion at this speciality store.
- Clarks – Shop comfortable and stylish footwear at this well-known shoe store.
- Currys – Shop for the latest electronics, appliances, and gadgets at Currys, where you’ll find TVs, laptops, smartphones, kitchen appliances, and more. Their knowledgeable staff can assist with product recommendations and technical support.
- Decathlon – Find everything you need for your favourite sports and outdoor activities at Decathlon, offering clothing, equipment, and accessories for a wide range of sports.
- DFS – Find the perfect sofa, armchair, or other living room furniture at DFS, well-known for its quality products and excellent customer service.
- Dreams – Sleep soundly with the help of Dreams’ range of mattresses, beds, and bedroom furniture. Their expert staff can guide you in choosing the proper sleep solutions tailored to your needs.
- Furniture Village – Browse an extensive selection of stylish and functional furniture at Furniture Village. The store offers everything from sofas to dining sets, ensuring you find the perfect pieces for your space.
- Home Bargains – Discover a wide range of household items, toiletries, toys, and more at discounted prices in this store. Home Bargains is known for its affordable products without compromising on quality.
- Hurley – Offering designer clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, Hurley is perfect for fashion enthusiasts. Shoppers can find a variety of high-end brands to elevate their wardrobe.
- JD Sports – Find top sportswear, footwear, and accessories brands at this athletic retailer.
- Kia – Browse a selection of new and used cars at this automotive dealership, where customers can expect excellent customer service and competitive pricing. Kia offers financing options, servicing, and parts to ensure a seamless car-buying experience.
- M&S – Marks & Spencer is a staple for many shoppers, offering quality clothing, homeware, and food products. Their range includes everything from everyday essentials to luxury items.
- Next – Shop the latest clothing, footwear, and accessories for men, women, and children at Next. The popular retailer is known for its stylish yet affordable fashion options that cater to various tastes and preferences.
- Oak Furnitureland – High-quality solid oak furniture for every room can be found at Oak Furnitureland. Their products are designed to last, focusing on craftsmanship and timeless style.
- O2 – This mobile phone store offers a variety of devices, plans, and accessories to keep you connected. From the latest smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, O2 has everything needed for seamless communication on the go.
- Pagazzi Lighting – Discover an extensive range of lighting solutions, from ceiling to table lamps, floor lamps, wall lights, and outdoor lighting at Pagazzi Lighting. In addition, they also offer a selection of mirrors and artwork to complement your home decor.
- Pets at Home – This pet store offers everything for furry or feathered friends, including food supplies, toys, accessories, grooming services, and even veterinary care. Customers can find products for dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, and small animals.
- River Island – Stay on trend with the latest in fashion at River Island, which offers stylish clothing, footwear, and accessories for men, women, and children. The brand is known for its unique designs and quality materials, making it a popular choice among fashion-conscious shoppers.
- ScS – As a furniture and flooring specialist store, ScS offers a wide range of sofas, carpets, dining sets, and other home furnishings. They also provide expert advice on choosing the right products for your space.
- Smyths – Children of all ages will enjoy the vast selection of toys, games, and entertainment at Smyths toy store. Popular items include action figures, board games, and educational toys.
- Sofology – Specialising in comfortable and stylish sofas, armchairs, and other living room essentials, Sofology has it all.
- Specsavers – At Specsavers opticians, you can get eye tests, glasses, and contact lenses that help you see clearly while looking great. They offer various frames, from designer brands to budget options.
- Sports Direct – Catering to all sporting needs, this store provides athletic clothing, footwear, and equipment from top brands. From football to fitness gear, there’s something for every sports enthusiast.
- Superdrug – This health and beauty outlet offers makeup, skincare products, toiletries, and more. Shoppers can also find a pharmacy section for their medical needs.
- Tapi – Browse a wide range of carpets, flooring, and other home improvement products.
- TK Maxx – Discover designer clothing, accessories, and homeware at discounted prices.
- Tog24 – Shop for outdoor clothing and equipment designed to withstand the elements.
- TUI – Plan your next vacation with the help of TUI travel agency’s expert advice and services. They offer package deals, flights, accommodations, and excursions tailored to your preferences and budget.
- Wilko – Find various household items, from cleaning supplies to home decor. The store is known for its affordability without compromising on quality or style.
Opening times vary by store, but most are open until 8 pm Monday to Friday, 6 pm on Saturday, and from 11 am to 5 pm Sunday.
Places to Eat and Drink
Restaurants, cafes and other places to eat and drink at Middlebrook (2023) include:
- Abacus – Sample a variety of Asian cuisine, including Chinese and Japanese dishes, at Abacus fusion restaurant. Their menu features sushi, dim sum, stir-fries, and more, providing a diverse dining experience.
- Bella Italia – Experience the flavours of Italy with a wide range of pasta, pizza, and classic dishes at Bella Italia. The restaurant also offers gluten-free and vegetarian options, ensuring all diners can enjoy a delicious Italian meal.
- Cakeaway – Satisfy your sweet tooth with various delicious cakes and desserts available for delivery from Cakeaway. From birthday cakes to indulgent treats, this service brings the bakery right to your doorstep.
- Chiquito – Enjoy the taste of Mexico with various flavorful dishes like fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas at Chiquito, a lively restaurant. The colourful decor and friendly service transport diners south of the border for a memorable dining experience.
- Chopstix – Enjoy a quick and tasty meal of Asian-inspired dishes from noodles, rice, and stir-fries at Chopstix fast-food restaurant. Their menu offers a range of flavours and ingredients, providing a satisfying dining experience on the go.
- Costa – Relax with a cup of coffee, tea, or a tasty snack at Costa, a coffee shop known for its quality beverages and welcoming atmosphere. Customers can enjoy free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating to catch up on work or socialise.
- Greggs – Grab a quick bite with sandwiches, pastries, and hot drinks at Greggs, a popular bakery chain. From sausage rolls to vegan options, there’s something for everyone looking for a tasty and affordable snack.
- Harvester – Feast on various grilled dishes, salads, and desserts at Harvester, a family-friendly restaurant. Their unlimited salad bar allows guests to customise their meals while enjoying a relaxed atmosphere.
- KFC – Satisfy your cravings for fried chicken, burgers, wraps, and salads at KFC, a fast-food favourite.
- Luciano’s – Indulge in authentic Italian dishes, from pasta and pizza to risotto and seafood, at Luciano’s, a cosy eatery. With a warm atmosphere and friendly service, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely dinner with friends and family.
- McDonald’s – Satisfy your fast-food cravings with burgers, fries, and more at this iconic chain. McDonald’s is known for its quick service and consistent quality across locations.
- Nam Ploy – Diners can savour a wide range of authentic Thai dishes in this cosy restaurant. The menu includes classics like pad Thai, green curry, and tom yum soup.
- Nando’s – Spice up your meal with flavorful peri-peri chicken and other Portuguese-inspired dishes at Nando’s. The casual dining environment makes it an excellent choice for gatherings with friends or family.
- Pizza Hut – Indulge in a variety of pizzas, pasta, and sides at Pizza Hut, a popular pizza chain. The restaurant is known for its signature stuffed crust pizzas and family-friendly atmosphere.
- Starbucks – Enjoy your favourite coffee, tea, and snacks at Starbucks, a well-known coffeehouse. With comfortable seating and free Wi-Fi, it’s an ideal spot to catch up with friends or work on the go.
- Subway – Create the perfect sandwich with various fresh ingredients at Subway, a fast-food chain. Customers can choose their bread, fillings, and sauces to create a custom-made sub tailored to their tastes and preferences.
- TGI Fridays – Celebrate the weekend with American-style dishes like burgers, ribs, steaks, and more at TGI Fridays, a lively restaurant known for its fun atmosphere and generous portions. The menu also includes vegetarian options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
- Wagamama – Enjoy delicious Asian-inspired cuisine, including ramen, curries, and teppanyaki dishes at Wagamama. The restaurant’s open kitchen design allows diners to watch chefs prepare their meals, adding a unique experience to mealtime.
- Yo! – Sushi and Japanese food.
There are two hotels here; the Bolton Stadium Hotel and the Premier Inn Bolton. The Bolton Stadium Hotel is 4-star in the South Stand of the Toughsheet Community Stadium. The Premier Inn is next to Bolton Arena, just a short walk from the football ground and Horwich Parkway train station.
The complex offers free parking for over 3,000 cars. Other facilities include a petrol station, electric vehicle charging points, and cash machines (outside Asda and at the Vue).
Location & Directions
Middlebrook Retail Park is located in Horwich, adjacent to Junction 6 of the M61 motorway. Drivers can leave at this junction and follow the signs to reach it. Satellite navigation owners can use the postcode BL6 6JA.
The park also boasts its own train station, Horwich Parkway.
Buses to the complex include:
- 516 – Horwich to Leigh via Lostock, Middlebrook, Westhoughton, and Atherton.
- 127 – Chorley to Middlebrook via Adlington and Blackrod.
The idea of building Middlebrook Retail and Leisure Park was initially driven by a desire to relocate Bolton Wanderers Football Club to a new stadium that could meet the safety requirements of the Taylor Report. The club was promoted to the English Premiership in 1993. Feasibility studies showed that their old stadium at Burnden Park could not be converted or remodelled at a reasonable cost.
Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council had long been interested in building a sports-related complex in Bolton, and they invited Orbit Developments to support the relocation of the stadium to Middlebrook. This resulted in a partnership between the council, Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and Orbit Developments to develop the park.
The partnership aimed to create an integrated and sustainable employment, leisure, sports, and retail scheme that would complement rather than compete with the town centre. The development was expected to create thousands of jobs and bring new shopping and leisure opportunities to the area, benefiting the local economy.
Plans for the park were first announced in 1994. They involved building a 25,000-seater stadium for Bolton Wanderers (now known as the Toughsheet Community Stadium), an indoor arena, a hotel, multi-screen cinema, a bowling alley, and restaurants.
Despite opposition from nearby residents and shopkeepers in Horwich, the plans were approved. Construction work began in 1996.
The Reebok Stadium held its first competitive match on September 1, 1997. This was after Bolton Wanderers played their first three games of the 1997/98 season away from home while waiting for the stadium to be ready. The first game against Everton ended in a 0-0 draw. Fans paid their respects to the recently deceased Princess Diana before the match.
Shops and the Vue Cinema opened the following year. The cinema’s opening gala night was attended by celebrities such as Barry Humphries, Fred Dibnah, Rik Mayall, and Shirley Anne Field.
Bolton Arena opened in 2001. In 2002, the venue played a significant role in the Commonwealth Games, hosting badminton events.
The Spirit of Sport statue was erected in 2005. The shimmering stainless steel structure stands about 30 meters high and is a monumental tribute to Bolton’s rich sporting heritage. It is covered with images of more than 700 people that have contributed to Bolton’s rich sporting heritage. Individuals displayed on the statue include Alan Ball, Amir Khan, Sam Allardyce, Nat Lofthouse, and Jason Kenny.
Comparison with Other Shopping Centres in Bolton
Middlebrook Retail and Leisure Park stands out due to its impressive size, variety of stores, accessibility, and amenities. When compared to other shopping destinations in the area, Middlebrook offers a superior experience for shoppers.
Middlebrook boasts a broader range of stores than any other shopping park or centre in Bolton. This extensive selection ensures that visitors can find everything they need in one convenient location.
One significant advantage Middlebrook has over other shopping centres in Bolton is free parking. With thousands of free car parking spaces onsite, visitors never have to worry about finding a spot or paying expensive parking fees.
Accessibility is another critical advantage. The retail park’s excellent transport links by road make it easily accessible from the M61 motorway. Furthermore, its own railway station (Horwich Parkway) offers regular services to and from locations such as Blackpool, Preston, and Manchester city centre.
Orbit Developments, the company behind Middlebrook Retail and Leisure Park, is a leading property developer with over many years of experience creating high-quality retail, leisure, and office spaces. They are the commercial division of the Emerson Group.