IT has been at the heart of a Hampshire town for four decades - attracting up to 284 million visitors.

Fareham Shopping Centre was opened by the Mayor Allan Chamberlain in 1976 costing £10m to build.

Shoppers were wowed by the state-of-the-art mall which featured phone booths and a Sainsbury's supermarket, Woolworths, Boots and Marks and Spencer.

In November 1981 an extension opened which included a car park where people originally paid 50p per day to park and the new Osborne Square where more shops including a BHS moved in after what the Daily Echo described as a 'giant building scheme'.

And in 1997, a year after Sunday opening times were introduced, former owners Standard Life sold it for £40m to the Fareham Retail Partnership who gave it a £15m revamp, brightening up the 70s interior and removing a trail on the floor which led around the building and bringing in 600 new jobs.

Now the shopping centre which is home to 84 shops, cafes and restaurants is celebrating its 40th birthday with a 70s-style celebration.

Mr Chamberlain returned to the centre to help launch the event along with the 2015-16 Mayor and Mayoress of Fareham Cllr Mike Ford and Mrs Anne Ford featuring vintage cars from South Hants Vehicle Preservation Society, fashion from Hampshire Cultural Trust and photography showcasing the centre through the ages.

They also celebrated with the centre's longest-serving staff who both started working there in 1976. Lesley Jarman is celebrating four decades working at Clarks, having started there at 16-years-old, and Mary O'Keefe from Thomas Cook who has worked at the travel agents since it was Grace Travel and saw it rebranded as Hogg Robinson and Going Places.

Centre manager, Mike Taylor said: "The event acknowledged some of our longest serving members of staff, who all work hard to meet the demands of a forever changing retail environment, which is amazingly evident when looking back 40 years. I hope our customers enjoy the displays which we believe is a great way to help mark this occasions."

Around 20,000 people visit Fareham Shopping Centre every day with 7,100,253 visitors last year.