IKEA Warrington has marked 30 years since its opening day, when the Swedish furniture giant debuted its first store in the UK.

The Gemini Retail Park store threw its doors open for the first time on Thursday, October 1 1987 - with thousands of people, including some who had camped out in the days beforehand, visiting the country's inaugural Ikea.

Among the 300 employees working in the store on the day was Paul Fishwick who, aged 26, had joined up six months previously from Fine Fare supermarket in Birchwood.

Now 57 and still working at Ikea Warrington as a marketing specialist, Paul has reflected on the past 30 years of flatpack furniture and meatballs.

He said: "I've done everything in the last 30 years - I've worked in the warehouse as a forklift truck driver, on the checkout, on returns and in sales.

"I first joined in May 1987 and we were doing very long days getting the place ready.

"We were actually very worried - when I looked at the stuff we were selling I wondered how it would go down in the north west of England.

"People were used to more traditional furniture in oak, teak and mahogany whereas I was looking at designs that were quite whacky and space age in pine and birch."

But any doubts were soon dispelled.

Paul said: "It was absolute bedlam in here on the opening day.

"About a day or two beforehand, people had started camping out because they wanted to be the first ones in.

"They'd heard of Ikea on the continent and wanted to be at the opening of the first one, and we had offers on like a sofa for £25 and a bookcase for £5.

"We had an awful lot of customers from London and Ireland who'd shopped at Ikea before on the continent.

"There were throngs of people and the police had a field day booking everybody's cars, because they were parked on the grass verges and on roundabouts.

"We were allowed to have 7,000 people in the building at any one time, and we were exceeding that.

"I worked from about 5.30am until about 9.30pm, and I'd worked until midnight the night before.

"Afterwards, the store manager came around with a big trolley of beers and wine and we had a few drinks.

"Then it was the same again the day after, and it continued until the London store opened 18 months later."

Ikea Warrington is set to make an estimated £100m this year - compared to £17m in its first 12 months.

The number of employees has doubled to 600, with Paul having had an estimated 15,000 colleagues at the store in the past 30 years.

One lap of the Europa Boulevard store is approximately a mile in distance, while it also has the north west's largest restaurant with 600 seats.

Paul's mum Doreen and daughter Charlotte have also worked at Ikea Warrington.

He added: "My mum had been recently widowed when she joined - I got a call one day when I was working in the portacabins before the store had opened telling me to get to hospital.

"I got there and my dad had died of a heart attack in work and my mum was in bits.

"Mum was in her early 50s and she was at loose end - she needed to get out of the house and she was good on a sewing machine, so she did all the curtains for the room sets.

"Then about 10 years ago, my daughter worked in customer services when she was 16 before she went to university.

"Ikea is a very good employer and we get really well looked after - everyone is paid more than the living wage, we get Christmas and birthday presents and bonuses.

"The philosophy is that if you have happy staff, you get a better performance out of them - if people enjoy what they're doing then they're going to give you their all.

"It's an amazing place to work, and we're like one big family."

Click the gallery above for pictures of how the store looked on the opening day 30 years ago. 

6 items which have been on sale in Ikea the whole time the store has been open. 

How many have you bought over the years?

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

Billy bookcase - £190

Gulliver cot - £59

Ivar shelves - £77

Klippan sofa - £159

POÄNG armchair - £75

Lack sidetable - £9