HUNDREDS of people packed into Bolton’s Victorian vaults for an evening of culture and live music.
The Market Place Shopping Centre opened up its vaults to make way for father and daughter, Chris Carter and Lauren Carter-Bridges, to showcase Art In The Vaults — their first solo fine art exhibition of painting and photography.
It comes as permission was granted for the vaults to be transformed into a restaurant and bar area.
A cinema will also be built in the Market Place and work is expected to start in the next few weeks.
People enjoyed wine and cheese at the free event on Tuesday while they browsed the artwork.
It was a family affair for the Carter family as Cammie Carter, aged 16, sang her own songs while playing a grand piano.
She also joined forces with Westhoughton teenager Joe Keegan, who featured on BBC’s The Voice earlier this year.
Paul ‘Kermit’ Leveridge, from 1990s rock band Black Grape, entertained guests with a series of poetry. He was keen to get involved after being impressed by Cammie’s singing while at a party in Manchester earlier this year.
Ms Carter-Bridges said: “We hoped for 90 people and expected 40 but we have had more than 250.
"The venue is amazing, it’s awesome. We planned the event in four weeks as work is going to start on the place in a few weeks.”
She juggles her artwork with her business Lauren Ashley Jewellers, which is based at Market Place.
She and her father are members of Bolton’s neo:arts, a not for profit organisation aimed at developing creativity.
Mr Carter has a photography book published in Australia and Ms Carter-Bridges has recently had a piece of artwork chosen by the prestigious Society of Women Artists. Her work will be exhibited in mall galleries in London.
Tim Vaughan, chief executive of Moorgarth, which owns the Market Place, said: “We have been looking at ways to promote the vaults and Lauren said she would really like to do an art exhibition.
"We never dreamed it would be anything like it was, it was just amazing. We are grateful to be able to hold an event like this. I can’t believe the amount of music and talent in this town.”
Moorgarth has been given the go ahead to build a nine-screen cinema and open up the vaulted basements.
Mr Vaughan said he hopes the vaults will become a popular attraction similar to Manchester’s Printworks. He is hoping more people will host exhibitions and music events at the shopping centre’s hidden treasure.
Singer Joe Keegan, aged 16, said: “I hope the event will attract more people to come to Bolton. This event has been absolutely phenomenal. I have never been to anything like this before. I enjoyed everything about it, it was very relaxing.”