It is the town’s busiest shopping district attracting visitors from across the north of England and beyond. 

We paid a visit to the small but vibrant shopping areas along Victoria Street, Randal Street, Charlotte Street and Whalley Range ahead of the Eid festival. 

The section is made up of a myriad of shops, small and large, all serving a range of food, goods and clothes and is packed with hundreds of people doing their last-minute shopping during the final days of Ramadan.

But what makes this area so special?

Asian Image: First store on the block

Long before it was rebranded as Kiddies, this was known as Bharuch Bazaar and sold a range of children’s clothes and items. Once Barbara Castle Way was opened in 1991 it took up the prime spot at the entrance to the shopping district. It was renovated and extended in 2001 and continues to be run by the Bharucha family since it opened nearly 50 years ago.

Asian Image:

The chapati queue
This is not as common a sight as many might think but during Ramadan, it can be something of a mission getting hold of fresh chapatis. Here, at quite arguably the most famous Asian bakery in town is a queue and it is still two hours until iftar (fast breaking) time. Meena Bakery has straddled this corner of Victoria Street for decades, seeing roads and routes change all around it.

Asian Image: A cut above the rest
In the run up to Eid, barbers and stylists will be working into the night to keep up with demand. Every neighbourhood has a legendary barber. On Victoria Street it is Bhatti’s, which was first established by Mohammed Malik Bhatti 
in 1969. Whilst parts of the stretch have been taken over by the more ‘modern’ Turkish barbers, Bhatti’s is still here thankfully, now managed by the grandson of Mr Malik - Mohammed Ilyas. 

Asian Image: Window of opportunities 
Styles change like the changing seasons. Anisha’s Collections is renowned for its almost ‘magical’ window displays constantly evolving to showcase Asian fashions.  The growing number of fashion boutiques are an integral part of this business district drawing in visitors from across the region on a daily basis. 

Asian Image: Samosas connoisseurs
There are not many places like Manchester Sweet Centre. The purveyor of these fantastic delicacies, which come in both meat and vegetarian options, has found itself on a list of ‘great meals’ on more than one occasion. It hasn’t changed much over the years and it appears customers prefer it just the way it is.

Asian Image: Lancashire’s 'finest'

In the midst of all the glitzy fashion stores and growing number of Chai shops - a number of small dedicated shop owners have remained committed to providing the service they were always famous for. Lancashire Dry Cleaners has been at this spot since 1972 and was taken over by Osman Chand in 1979. The family still runs the business which is located in the heart of Victoria Street.

Asian Image: Hijab Centre

In the nineties a new type of store emerged. These were dedicated to growing demands for what some might describe ‘niche Islamic wear’ but they were an instant success. The Hijab Centre has been located on this funny little spot on Charlotte Street, between Victoria Street and Randal Street for two decades. New Hijab and Islamic wear shop have sprung up along the stretch.

Asian Image: Jaurah Textiles
Long before the advent of glitzy boutiques and fashion stores, many Asian clothes stores sold loose fabric. The cloth was then handed over to a talented seamstress who would make the outfits. Here is one of, if not the oldest loose fabric shop on the stretch. It takes up the prime spot at the junction of Randal Street and Victoria Street. 

Asian Image: The original king of curries
The Khyber restaurant and now takeaway has been serving some of the best curries in town for decades. The new Khyber did away with the seating, much to the disappointment of some visitors who would head here late at night. In the reception the family pay homage to the late Sher Mohammed – the original king of curries.

Asian Image: Fashion central
In the run up to Eid, the fashion boutiques are packed with shoppers. A number of smaller shops have opened up on the stretch which are catering for the ever-changing wedding market. This store is based on the corner of Blackburn Street and Randal Street. Next door is a barbers and further down a halal meat shop, showing how premium spots get snapped up quickly and converted to serve the growing market.

Asian Image: Sign of the times 

As the number of visitors expanded, shop owners looked to make the most of the restricted amount of space. Then some stores on Randal Street ‘broke through’ to Victoria Street and now have entrances on both sides. This sign on the door to MK Shoes kindly tells visitors not to cut through from Victoria Street through to Randal Street. Unless of course you want to stop and browse, which you should.

Asian Image: Grand designs 

With space at a premium, a number of properties have been renovated to take advantage of space on the second floor. The biggest fashion store on the stretch is Poshaak, which has been located at this spot on Victoria Street for over 50 years. The initial shop before it was expanded into properties next door, was bought by the late Manzoor Hussain, for the princely sum of £2,000 in 1972.

Asian Image: Fresh off the grill 

The boom in local takeaways has taken up some parts of the town and we are spoilt for choice. Yet, there are still these absolute gems hidden away in the back streets who are attempting to cook food the traditional way. Here, is Master Cook which runs from a unit off Charlotte Street, where you can pick up ready prepared meals or get it fresh off the grill. Asian Image:

Quintessentially Asian

This colourful display belongs to the Ayesha’s Collection store on Victoria Street, stocking items you might find in a back street bazaar in South Asia.  It has everything from bangles, necklaces, ear rings to special serving platters that tend to only make an appearance during weddings.

Asian Image: Pots, pans and everything else
There was a time when only a handful of shops in the whole of Lancashire could sell you these traditional pots. On the corner of Victoria Street and Charlotte Street is Penny Profit. It still houses those items that you can’t get anywhere else. It is best described as an Aladdin's cave full of cooking utensils and household goods.

Asian Image: Scent of Arabia
As fashions have changed so have demands for items from other parts of the world, most notably the Middle East. There are now a growing number of Arab style dress stores selling Abayas and Jubbahs along this bustling shopping area. Khadlaj is a small perfume and scent store on Randal Street. It is almost as if it has been into an extension. Blink and you could miss it.

Asian Image: Glamour by name…
Eid is all about new clothes. One of the most frustrating things for any parent is finding the perfect outfit for the children. It can become an almost thankless task at times and requires a great deal of patience. Here, is ‘Glamour’ based within new units within one of the oldest buildings on Randal Street.

Asian Image: Heart of Blackburn
The most centrally located mosque in the Brookhouse district is the Raza Mosque. It finds itself in an awkward spot, off a one-way street and within a dead end. Yet, somehow, it manages to work. There is no better sight than seeing hundreds of people crowding outside the entrance on Eid day itself.