LOOKING at shops in Bolton, Preston, Bury etc, what is the difference? Very little! Most are branded stores with the same goods, same displays. But with imagination Bolton can use its heritage to gain an advantage.

For example, Bolton Museum is selling pictures to pay for the storage of others. Why not lend some of these pictures to the banks and building societies whose blank walls usually display only a television screen or two showing 24 hour news?

Security should be no problem — these premises have plenty of that.

As a young man in the 1950s-60s, we used to go “window shopping”

— looking at the town centre shops whose windows were full of goods and interesting items.

Today you walk past the same stores and, apart from one or two items, there are just empty spaces.

There are many collectors of interesting items apart from the museum. What about a chemists shop with a section of its window displaying items from the past?

Or a camera shop window displaying old cameras and photographic equipment that, in this digital age, could enlighten many of our young people? Or a clothes store displaying fashions from the past decades? These could show young people just how “daring” their mothers and fathers were! The list of possibilities is endless!

In 2007 I went to the TT races in the Isle of Man. The number of shops that had displays of famous machines from the past was fantastic, drawing people into these shopping areas. Do the same in Bolton and there is a good chance of attracting customers in, even if in the first instance they only purchase a coffee. Every November, Bill, a council employee, puts on a display of medals outlining the achievements of Bolton soldiers from the wars — why is this restricted to just a few weeks in November? There are many prominent shops in Bolton that could do this display justice. And many people, apart from the museum or council, have some excellent collections that could be used.

Make our town centre an interesting and enjoyable experience and shoppers could well return.

A Martland Eden Street Astley Bridge