7 Bank Street, Teignmouth, Devon TQ14 8AN
Woolworths opened in the harbourside town of Teignmouth in March 1932. It was a small store that opened in the former premises of Mr W R Parkhouse’s Agra Engineering shop. In 1959 the store still had all of its original features, apart from it’s fascia. The high island counters were made of the best mahogany, while every shopper was greeted by the distinctive sweet aroma of the oil and felspar used to treat the wooden floor. (Extract from woolworthsmuseum.co.uk)
It was a store that frequently got flooded, with water having to be brushed away by staff.
Top-selling products were seasonables in summer when thousands of holiday-makers descended upon the town, and Christmas seasonables. The store would order their stock a year in advance. Staff in the summer were made up of seasonal temps and Saturday staff – a big job to manage. According to the Woolworths Museum, the store stayed behind the times in the 1960s, with customers still having to pay for products at different counters, and pic n mix having to be pointed at by the customer and measured by staff behind the counter. Customers were expecting self-service by now. Smaller stores were given the least priority in the list of Woolworths stores getting a makeover. This made it difficult for the Teignmouth store to display new products back then – for example, having no hanging rails to display blouses, shirts and beachwear.
Despite it being small, the store actually had 5 floors, as former employee Daniel Pritchard-Tagg tell us. He was one of the last people at Teignmouth, there til the bitter end he says! “Besides the usual ups and downs with customers, we got the odd celebrity – Muse are from Teignmouth and would come in on Friday mornings for the latest Game releases when they were in town. The store had 5 storeys – a basement where entertainment was stored, up to the 4th floor almost attic where clothing was. The last few weeks were unusual, but the customers were great and gave us £500 in tips during the last week. We pulled together and went out on a high!”
The store carried on trading successfully until 27th December 2008.
Source: Topp A., Pinterest
A Carpetright opened in its place. This is a photo I took in 2010 when we went on holiday there. I stepped inside and I just knew it was a Woolworths. The staff looked at me oddly 😉
The Carpetright then closed (I thought the fascia did look temporary), and an M&Co has opened in its place. They painted the top of the building pastel blue too, which looks quite good, a definite improvement.
16 – 18 High Street, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14 7HY
Woolworths opened in Uttoxeter in 1932 in a purpose-built store on the High Street.
The store manager from 1933 was Mr Slade, and this photo was sent in by Richard Northover who actually met him many decades later. He shares his memories with us below.
“His name is Mr R J Slade known as ‘Jim’ who retired from Store 60 Cheltenham in the early 1960s. I met him in 1979 when I was a trainee manager at Store 60. I got to know him when another trainee manager at the store was going out with a couple of the girls who worked in the store, one of whom was his granddaughter Vanessa who later married the other trainee. We used to talk when he came into the store, a kindly old gentleman talking to a 19 year old trainee with a fount of knowledge and stories about the early days when he joined Woolies in 1926.
His brother/cousin I believe was a 1960s Woolies director called Mr A Slade. Another relative was Derek Slade whose Deputy Manager I was at 182 Aberavon in 1982/83, and his son-in-law was a gentleman who was stockroom and then salesfloor manager Mike Ongers in Store 60 in the late 70s/early 80s. In those days up to the 80s there were many families with a history of working at Woolies including my own. The happy years which were pre Kingfisher……” Richard Northover
Tracy Fazekas says she was “store manager really briefly at Uttoxeter 465 for about 6 weeks. It was around 2002, I think. The team were lovely and welcoming and it was a great little store. A very little store – possibly one of the smallest. Only 3 school kids were allowed in at a time so they didn’t pinch the pic n mix! Morning deliveries were very early and taken at the front of the store. I remember pulling cages through the shop (maybe there can’t have been a loading bay). I’m not sure I accomplished very much apart from giving the stock room a good tidy and sort out! The staff were so friendly. It changed area so I got pulled to another store and I was sad to leave.”
Uttoxeter Woolworths closed in December 2008.
Today it is WHSmith. If you are ever in Uttoxeter, look up and admire the Woolworths architecture.
24 Agincourt Square, Monmouth, Gwent NP5 3XB
Woolworths opened in the Welsh town of Monmouth in April 1932. The store was purpose-built and you will recognise the architecture in this early photo.
The store had a large side extension in 1964 and a garden centre added in the 1970s. The original part of the store seemed to retain it’s vintage fascia, windows and doors.
It was rebranded Woolworths Local but again, note the beautiful original shopfront that was there right until the end.
After this store closed in December 2008, it became an Iceland. And look – they kept the original 1930s windows, hurrah!
150 – 154 Oxford Street, London W1N 0EY
Woolworths opened its second London Oxford Street store in April 1932. The first was Store 161 that opened 8 years earlier at number 311 (Bond Street side). This new one was at number 150-154 (Tottenham Court Road side), on the site of the Royal Princess Theatre. The store was purpose-built with grand architecture and it was one of the first stores to have a self-service cafeteria and a Quick Lunch bar. The opening was advertised in the Daily Mail in a two-page spread with the headline “Woolworth’s newest and largest store”. The advert said the cafeteria and lunch bar could seat 500 people, and the food being “the purest obtainable – home killed meat only – pure butter and lard – no substitutes”.
Cooked breakfasts were served between 9am – 11am and cost 6d. ‘Special complete’ teas were served from 3pm for 6d. Each floor had a sandwich bar selling sandwiches and rolls, glasses of milk and bottled mineral water. All Woolworths cafes operated a ‘no tips’ policy, so the lunch menu was headed “No gratuities by request”. Cakes, pastries, meats and cheeses were also sold from the deli counter. (Source: Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street – K. Morrison)
The photos are from Historic England and these show the interiors with pendant electric lighting in 1949. It certainly looks a grand and beautiful store.
Between June and September 1949 fluorescent lighting was installed, and these photos were taken as the Oxford Street branch was one of the first stores to have it installed.
Look at all that pic n mix – the labels at the front include catarrh pastilles, mint imperials and liquorice allsorts. Sweets and chocolates were rationed between 1942 and 1953 and points were required to purchase them.
Former employee Ellie Driscoll worked here in the late 60s and she has some stories to tell! “I started as a school girl working part time in 1967 in 463 Oxford Street along with my school best friend on a Saturday morning. Put straight on the till in what was known as ‘Fancy Goods’ which sold everything from alarm clocks to guitars. The section was next to the stairs that led to the general toilets in the basement. I’d only been in the section a short time when there was a blood curdling scream from the toilets and then the female cleaner run up the stairs in sheer panic. A male tourist had hung himself in the female toilets. The next working day which was a Monday there was a commotion again but this time coming from the stockroom area on the 1st floor. Shortly after a woman was frogmarched out of the staff entrance. She had only started that day but was caught having sex in the stockroom lift with one of the stockmen. He kept his job. The next day a merchandiser – really nice lady of a certain age – collapsed in the stockroom and gave birth to a baby then and there ! I was wondering what was going to happen next. When I left school I went to work there permanently as a ‘cash office girl’. I only left when I went on maternity leave. I absolutely loved it there and made some fabulous friends. Lorraine Chase worked at 463 along with her Mum – both very friendly and stunning looking. Great times”
The store closed in the 1977 when Woolworths sold the building to developers who built a shopping centre called Oxford Walk. In the 1980s it became an HMV.
Source: Lloyd, M.
This HMV closed down in 2014 and it is now Sports Direct.
Source: Boardman, D.
88 – 98 George Street, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 1RG
Woolworths opened in Altrincham in 1932 in a purpose-built store with the classic 5 bay and central pediment style (see below on the left of this postcard).
The store was extended to the left and to the right to create a very large store. Up until the 1990s the store kept it’s old-style look as you can see in this photo, with the vintage fascia and the circular pillars.
Source: O’Neill, A.
Former employee Emma Ronaldson has very fond memories of working at Woolworths in Altrincham. She says, “I’m still in contact with many of the wonderful people I met during my employment. My favourite job was filling up the pic n mix it’s a job I would still love today it’s part of my history and it’s lovely.” Joanne Johnson also has fond memories working as a Saturday girl on the entertainment department.
The store closed in December 2008.
It became an Iceland and Poundstretcher.
Source: Soult, G.
The Poundstretcher closed down and became a soft play cafe. There’s something nice knowing there are children playing in a former Woolworths.
59 Walton Vale, Liverpool L9 4RG
Woolworths opened in the Liverpool suburb of Walton in 1932. It was on Walton Vale in a purpose-built store, with the standard architecture of 5 bays, 2 storeys and a central pediment. You can see it on the centre right side of this photo, with its canopy open.
The store closed after 1972 but before 1995, but the actual date is unknown. Today it is a Heron Foods. The windows have been blocked off on the upper floor but you can still recognise the Woolworths architecture.
385 – 387 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, London SW14 7NX
Woolworths opened in East Sheen in 1932 in an existing parade of shops.
I don’t have much information on the store so this is going to be a short post. Today Tesco Express is in its place.
152 – 154 Golders Green Road, Golders Green, London NW11 8HE
Woolworths opened in Golders Green, North London, in 1932. It was on Golder Green Road, quite far down from the Golders Green tube station. The store was purpose-built with the classic, recognisable architecture.
Source: Francis Frith
The store was modernised in the 1970s and here you can see the experimental ‘WOOLWORTH’ typeface on the fascia.
Source: Woolworths Museum
The store closed down I am guessing in the 1970s or 80s – as with the previous post, the date of closure is not written on the 1995 store list. The building still exists today, with some sort of arched brickwork added on the ground floor. Still recognisable as a Woolworths. The units are occupied by Jewish Learning Exchange and Curtis + Staub Gymnasium (previously LA Fitness). The clock in the photo was added after Woolworths moved out, but it has gone now.
Source: Hidden London
50 – 54 Alexandra Road, Moss Side, Manchester M16 7BQ
Woolworths opened in Moss Side, Manchester, in 1932. It was on Alexandra Road which was a busy and bustling shopping street back in the day. The store traded here until the 1970s or 80s – the actual date of closure is unknown.
Source: Manchester History Revisited
Today the Woolworths store building does not exist as the whole of Alexandra Road was redeveloped for mainly housing.
46 – 48 Croydon Road, Caterham, Surrey CR3 6QB
Woolworths opened in 1931 in Caterham, which is just south of Croydon. It was on Croydon Road in a purpose-built store.
They traded here right until the end, closing in January 2009.
Today it is a Coop. If you are ever walking by in Caterham, look up and you’ll see the Woolworths architecture.
Source: Soult, G.
4 – 5 Orchard Street, Neath, West Glamorgan SA11 1DS
Woolworths opened in Neath in 1931. I think it was an L-shaped Store with an entrance on Wind Street and another entrance on Orchard Street.￼￼
Source: Neath Guardian￼
The store was extended and traded here right until the end in January 2009.
Neath Former Woolworths 2009
It became a Poundland/Pep & Co.
62 – 64 Wavertree Road, Liverpool L7 1PH
Woolworths opened another branch in Liverpool in 1931 on Wavertree Road. The below photo was commisioned by Woolworths prior to the opening day of 19th September 1931. Look how enticing the window displays are.
Source: National Museums Liverpool
Woolworths traded here for 40 years, closing in the early 1970s. Today, Wavertree Road looks completely different to how it did in the 1930s, but somehow the original Woolworths building still exists. It is part of Taskers, a home store.
36 Stodman Street, Newark-on-Trent, Notts
Woolworths opened in Newark-on-Trent in 1931 on Stodman Street. According to Our Nottinghamshire, The Newark Advertiser reported that ‘the interior will be 32ft wide and 156ft long – making a room nearly twice the size of the town hall ballroom’.
Source: Our Nottinghamshire
Monica Pollard worked at 454 Newark from 1971 until it closed in 1985. She says “I can remember the bomb scares we had, and we ourselves had to go looking for the bombs. The customers would always say ‘Can I pay for this’ when we were trying to get everyone out. I also remember the power cuts and using the handles to the tills, what a pain that was.” Ruth Paterson adds, “It took two to work the till, one to work the till and one to crank the handle – once to register, twice to total and three to open the till drawer. We looked like an organ grinder and his monkey!”
The store closed in 1985 and became Superdrug, which it still is today.
Source: FHP Property Consultants
Woolworths came back to Newark in the 2000s as a Big W, which I will cover in a future post.
145-153 High Street, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1AG
Woolworths opened in Dorking in 1931. Originally it was a small store that you can see on the left of the below photo.
This photo shows the Olympic Torch going past Woolworths in 1948.
Source: Dorking Society
At some point the store was extended into the building on the right to create a larger store, probably in the 1960s/70s.
Source: Guess, S.
The store was then halved back to its original size, probably in the late 1980s/1990s, with the right becoming Superdrug.
Source: Howe, R.
The store closed in December 2008 and became a branch of The Original Factory Shop. They have since closed down and the unit is vacant.
7 High Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1BN
Woolworths opened in Hitchin in 1931 at number 7 High Street which was the site of part of The Cock Hotel. This was demolished to build a purpose-built store with the classic Woolworths architecture – 5 bays and a central pediment.
Source: Woolworths Museum
Woolworths traded here for 31 years before moving a few shops along to bigger premises. Today the original Woolworths building still exists and it is Boots.
Source: Herts Memories
9 – 10 High Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1BN
In 1965 Woolworths moved into numbers 9 – 10 High Street which was the site of Perks & Llewellyn, the lavender growers, from 1823. According to the blog Hitchin Through The Years there were many ghost stories when Woolworths opened here.
“Many members of staff and the public reported a very strong smell of lavender in the store. There were also reports of a women dressed in Victorian clothes mounting a non-existent staircase diagonally across the store. It is believed that there had been a staircase in the same place in Perk’s & Llewellyn store. Some named the spirit ‘The Lavender Lady’. It was also alleged that two ladies in old fashioned clothes were seen to walk around the shop while the public did their shopping. A manager of the store had a strange experience. She was the last to leave and locked up and empty store. Later her phone rang. When she answered there was nobody on the line, but she discovered the call was from the Hitchin shop. On returning there was nobody there.” [Extract from Hitchin Through The Years]
In the mid-1980s, Hitchin Woolworths became a prototype “Woolworths Weekend” store (as did Uxbridge, Yeovil and Preston). The inside was divided into areas, colour-coded in pastel shades. There were circular ‘cash and wrap’ points. There was a V-shaped lobby, and the door and window-frames were coloured peppermint blue (Source: Woolworth’s 100 years on the High Street, Morrison K.) You can see below the thin blue ‘Weekend’ strip underneath Woolworths and how the doors go in diagonally to make the V-shaped lobby.
The Weekend suffix was dropped and it became a normal and very large Woolworths. Former employee James Ormiston says he spent 7 happy years at Hitchin. “Went from Christmas temp to Team Leader, didn’t realise till years later that it wasn’t retail I loved, but Woolies!” And Christina Breach says that Di Barker was fabulous at Hitchin ☺
Hitchin Woolworths closed in December 2008.
Hitchin Woolworths 2007
Source: JJ Justin
The unit was empty for a couple of years before being split into two in 2011 and becoming Poundland and Peacocks. The Peacocks store closed down and today it is M&Co.
Source: Lane, K.
50 – 54 High Street, Brentwood, Essex
Woolworths opened in Brentwood in 1931 in a purpose-built store at 50 – 52 High Street. It had the classic architecture with 5 bays and a central pediment. The store was extended into number 54, suggesting that it was a popular one that needed more space. In the early 1970s, they relocated across the road to a new larger store. Today the original building still exists and is occupied by Stellisons and Nevada Bob’s Golf shop.
Source: Brown, T.
43 – 45 High Street, Brentwood, Essex
The new Woolworths store was built at numbers 43 – 45 High Street, with curtain walling on the upper floors. Here you can see it was much larger. The fascia had the experimental oversized letters, almost shouting ‘WOOLWORTH’. Unfortunately only a decade later this Woolworths closed down as part of the Kingfishers cuts. It closed in January 1983.
It became an M&S which it still is today, the same building but with a sort of canopy bit at the front.
13 Market Place, Leek, Staffs ST13 5AA
Woolworths opened in Leek in 1931 in a former hotel. You can see it in the below photo from the 1990s. If you are wondering what is going on it this photo, it’s the Leek Fire Brigade attempting a Guinness book of records event. They had to cut a car up and pass each piece through a tyre in the quickest time.
Source: Maycock, N.
Source: Emily and James
This Woolworths lasted until the end, closing in December 2008.
Source: Kidd, C.
It became Yorkshire Trading Company, and if you look a bit closer you will spot the Woolworths doors still in use.
Source: Kington, J.
74 – 75 High Street, Cradley Heath, Warley, Worcs
Woolworths opened in Cradley Heath in August 1931 on the High Street.
Cradley Heath Woolworths 1935
Source: Black Country History in Photos
The store was progressively modernised in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but struggled after the company withdrew from food in 1986.
Source: Morgan, M.
The store closed in September 1989 and today it is an Iceland.
147 – 149 Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8BB
Woolworths opened on Gloucester Road in Bristol in 1931. It took over the premises of a grocers. The building had been built in 1890 (source: Gloucester Road Story)
Source: The Bishopston Society
The store closed in 1978 and became a Kwik-Save. In 2002 it became a Peacocks, and they closed in 2019 as the building is to be redeveloped into student accommodation.
189 – 193 Alum Rock Road, Saltley, Birmingham B8 1NJ
Woolworths opened its 11th Birmingham store in 1931 in Saltley. It was on the Alum Rock Road in a purpose-built store which you can see in the below photo.
This Woolworths traded here for 58 years, closing in September 1989. It became a store called Aftabs, but look on the upper floor and you will recognise the Woolworths architecture.