Hello everyone, just a note to say I’m taking a little break from writing the Woolworths posts during the summer holidays. Normal service will resume in September. Thank you for following the blog so far, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about Stores 1 – 378. Come back in September for the next stores.
Sabrina (aka The Woolies Detective)
1 Bridge Street, Walton on Thames, Surrey KT12 1BP
Woolworths opened in Walton-on Thames in 1929 on Bridge Street. It was a small store to start off with.
A movie was filmed here is 1950 – there wasn’t really a motorbike riding through the store. But you can see how the Woolworths looked inside.
In the 1970s there was a major makeover, and you can see the new store below.
Source: David, D.
I’m going to share some memories from former Walton-on-Thames Woolworths staff:
Deborah Leach-Walton: “Some fab times. I remember learning the “soldier boy” dance in the store room!!”
Lesley Ann Perrin: “I did 10/10 in Walton, can’t remember who the manager was…. seems an age ago!”
Dawn De Maio: “I was the last manager at Walton on Thames. Sad day when we closed the door for the last time.”
Michael Golden: “I was the Assistant Manager under Tim Leigh in about 2003. Great times, great manager. I liked the store and the fact that there were offices all around the upper perimeter. It was full of characters who all worked 20+ years – Sheila whose cousin is Peter Jackson (film director). Pete with his disabilities who would single handedly fill the shop quicker than anyone I know, and Dave the most enthusiastic stock room guy I have ever met (RIP). Others like Wendy and Lyn who you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of…. One of the best Woolies teams I had the pleasure working with.”
Wendy Tyler: “What do you mean! Lol (In response to the comment above!) 378 was a true family – we laughed, danced and cried together many times. Some great managers in my time – Tim Leigh and Stafford Sparshot as well as Andy and Mike. Loved my ten years and it will always leave a big hole in my heart. What fab days.”
Stafford Sparshott: “I most definitely had a few “interesting” times at 378.”
Wendi Gwyther: “My mum started there in the cash office back in early 60s.”
It sounds like such a lovely team that worked there. We can gather the store had a 10/10 makeover, but then closed for good in December 2008.
It became a Carpetright store, which it still is today
69 High Street, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1AW
Woolworths opened in Godalming in 1929, on the High Street in an existing building.
It looked relatively unchanged 40 years later in 1961, and it looks like there were some weighing scales in front of the doors.
Source: Goldalming Museum
In the 1970s the store was modernised and it looked like this until the end, closing on 30th December 2008.
Source: Lear, B.
M&Co moved in, and they changed to front – almost to how Woolworths looked when it first opened in 1929.
25 Market Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6LD
In the 1970s, thie building was gone and replaced with this more modern, larger store. In those days it was a mix of a supermarket as there would have been a food aisle, usually along the right wall. Note the oversized Woolworths letters.
Source: Woolworths Museum
In more recent days, this is how the store looked. It closed in December 2008.
Source: My Lichfield
Today B&M Bargains is in the building, but you’ll be happy to see that the original 1970s Woolworths doors are still being used.
65-67 The Broadway, Uxbridge Road, Southall, Middlesex UB1 1LB
Woolworths opened in Southall in 1929. It was a small two-storey purpose-built store on the Broadway (Uxbridge Road) with the classic architecture that you will probably recognise by now.
In the late 1960s, Janet Brown worked at this store. She remembers wages being done in store, paid weekly in cash, with the payslip put in little brown envelopes. She has happy memories of working there.
I actually remember Southall Woolworths from my childhood, it saved me from the boredom of being dragged around Asian shops by my parents – spice shops, clothes shops, jewellery shops, fabric shops – all too boring for a 7-year-old. But in Woolworths my brother and I would want to stay in there forever, going up and down the toy aisle. It was a larger store in the 1980s – you can see in the photo below from the upper floor architecture that it was extended to the left, I would guess this was done in the 1930s-40s. Any later then they would have changed the look of the upper floor. My ‘My Little Pony’ stable was from this branch – I still have it today. When they halved the store, I think in the early ’90s, I was so upset!
The store closed in December 2008 and became a 99p store. When Poundland bought them out, they closed this branch down as there was already another Poundland in Southall. Now it is the ‘Himalaya Shopping Mall’, but look up and you’ll still see the original Woolworths architecture.
28 High Street Superior, Brecon, Powys LD3 7LG
Woolworths opened in Brecon in 1929. It took over the premises of J E Nott and Co on the High Street.
This photo is from the opening day – the first day was for viewing only. You can see the sign saying “No Goods Sold To-Day” above the “6d Palmolive Shaving Cream” sign
Source: The Brecon & Radnor Express
This is a quote from the Brecon Museum about the photo: “The famous FW Woolworth & Co Ltd pricing policy is also in evidence, with products priced at 3d and 6d, and large signs emphasising Nothing in these stores over 6D. Woolworths held on to their Threepenny and Sixpenny price limits for many years. When raw material prices rose, their suppliers had to absorb the cost, or item sizes were reduced. For example, in the late 1930s their 10-inch saucepans were replaced with 6-inch ones. Another tactic was to sell items such as pans and pan lids separately. They even sold a camera in kit form, with each of the three pieces meeting the price promise.”
The store manager from 1934 was Mr Chasemore – this photo was kindly sent in by former manager Richard Northover.
From 1967 to 1987 the manager was Fred Clift – photo also sent in by Richard Northover. He tells us more about Mr Clift: “My predecessor as Brecon store manager was Fred Clift, who retired February 1987. I took over from Fred after leaving Maesteg in June ’86 to do a 9 month secondment with Mervyn Robertson’s special projects team. Fred had stayed in Brecon for 20 years until he retired. I already knew him because we had been in the same area and saw each other at managers meetings over the previous four years. He was well known and loved in the local community and even knew the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea, whose diocese centred in Brecon. So much so that Fred’s nickname in the area was ‘the bishop of Brecon’. He was big man with a very dry sense of humour. In the days before email we passed messages by phone store to store. I used to ring Fred and halfway through taking down the message the receiver would be dropped and I would hear ‘Good morning Bishop’.”
Source: PLAN Brecon
“I felt sorry for the team as after having Fred for 20 years, I was like a bucket of cold water, a 26-year young manager in a hurry so much. So I regretfully only stayed 18 months before moving on to 922 Bicester – a store almost three times the size. Food had been removed 4 months previously so I had the task of rebuilding sales which we did after a major store relay. I had a very experienced team. Brenda Powell was my office Manager, Margaret Evans my staff supervisor – both Woolies stalwarts. Sue Pritchard and Mrs Parry were my salesfloor supervisors, jolly Dawn Thomas on Entertainment, and Eric in the stockroom. Brenda took over as store manager from me and had several good years before she retired. A great team in a great store in a lovely location to live. I wished I had stayed longer but the next opportunity beckoned to a young man in a hurry….but happy memories.”
Thank you for sharing your memories of working at Brecon Woolworths with us Richard.
In the 1990s the store was had a rebrand to “Woolworths Local” and they traded here right until the end, closing in December 2008.
It became a branch of The Original Factory Shop, but the store frontage is pretty much unchanged from its Woolworths days.
584-586 Bearwood Road, Smethwick, Warley, West Midlands B66 4BW
Woolworths opened their second store in Smethwick in 1929, just a mile away from Store 170 on Cape Hill. It was a small store on Bearwood Road, that opened in an existing parade of shops. The upper floor architecture of all the shops along the left side of the road is identical. Woolworths is in the centre left of this photograph.
Note the peppermint blue door frames. The window poster in the summer of 2008 advertises a price drop of an inflatable pool to £39.99.
The store lasted until the end, closing in December 2008.
It became a Tesco Express, which closed down in 2015.
Then it became The Original Factory Shop, but they also closed down and today the unit is vacant.
2-3 The Borough, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7NA
Woolworths opened in Farnham in 1929, in an existing building on The Borough (see below on the left, with the pedestrian crossing directly in front).
They traded from here right until the end, closing in December 2008.
It became the poshest ex-Woolworths when interior design company Evitavossi took over the premises.
Source: Soult’s Retail View
But Evitavossi moved a couple of years later, and today the building is occupied by what looks like Britain’s poshest Poundland.
17-19 St John’s Square, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST6 3AN
Woolworths opened in Burslem in September 1929 in a purpose-built two-storey building. According to the book Burslem Through Time by Mervyn Edwards, the first store manager was L.H. Hewitt. This branch of Woolworths stocked a range of locally manufactured china and pottery items.
Source: Historic England
In 1966 the store was modernised – this photo was taken just after the store reopened. Doors were moved to the left, and inside you can see signage on the walls saying ‘Quality Foods’ and ‘Frozen Foods’. The store was quite long inside.
Source: Seaton, P.
Source: Burslem Through Time – Edwards, M.
Source: The Potteries
The store lasted until the end, closing on 2nd January 2009.
Source: The Potteries
It became a Poundstretcher for a few years, then it was vacant. Today it is ‘Quality Bazaar’ but a planning application has been put in to change the use into a restaurant.
157/158 High Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1JY
My local Woolies in Uxbridge opened in July 1929 at 158 High Street. It was a small purpose-built two-storey store, with the classic architecture on the upper floor (see in the below photo on the left).
Here is a postcard from the opening day in July 1929, announcing the new arrival to Uxbridge High Street. With opening offers and extra value – household, sweets, toys, jewellery, hobbies and more.
“Each store opening was spectacular. The celebrations featured an orchestra or a marching band, fireworks and even circus performers. Most storefronts were draped with flags and bunting to add to the razzamatazz. Bosses knew that a big launch would draw a huge crowd, and that many of the day’s visitors would later add a trip to the new FWW to their regular shopping habits.” [Extract from Woolworths Museum]
In the late 1940s/early 1950s, the Woolworths store was redeveloped to create a much larger store. It was probably done at the same time as when Suters store next door (aka Coad’s) was rebuilt, and the creation of the new bus depot behind the stores that led into the new Uxbridge Underground station side entrance. Both stores had back entrances from the bus depot through to the shop floor.
The two below photos are from the Philip Suter website, which is quite fascinating to read. Woolworths is the building in the middle right of this photo, next to Suters – you can see the WOOLWORTH letters along the top of the building.
The below photo shows the back of the store, Woolworths in the centre with the seven windows in a row. Behind the stores in the bus depot and behind that is Suters customer car park.
I have read that there was a small cafe at the rear of Woolworths that served the most amazing milkshakes.
Source: Uxbridge From Old Photographs – Pearce, K.
In the mid-1980s, Uxbridge Woolworths became a “prototype store called ‘Woolworths Weekend’. Initially this had a refrigerated display of Belgian Chocolates, which was manned throughout the day. It can be seen just inside the doors in the below photo. While the counter and service-cost proved too high for roll-out, once packaged the chocolates became a best-sellers in every store. The styling and range of the store, without the Weekend suffix to the name, became the template for 180 larger branches right across the UK, and proved a winner.” [Extract from Woolworths Museum]
Note the peppermint blue window frames and door panels.
Source: Chenneour E.
The ‘Weekend’ suffix was dropped not long after, and it became the Woolworths that I remember in the 1990s/2000s. Whenever I went to Uxbridge by bus, the bus stop was directly outside Woolworths back entrance, so it was a good shortcut to walk through Woolworths to the High Street. Confectionery and Pic n Mix was at the front (right side), and I think music was on the left side. Cards were in the middle of the store. Kids clothing, toys, electricals and homeware were from the middle through to the back, with DIY being directly behind the rear staircase that led to the bus station. There were photo booths at the top fo the stairs, and I vaguely remember one of those old fashioned weighing scales. Tills were on random island counters around the store.
Around 2005, Uxbridge Woolworths became a 10/10 store and had this trial blue fascia installed. I hated it so much. Woolworths should have always been in upper case letters. Inside the red walkway was put on and lots of colourful signage. Aisles was put at diagonal angles.
I took these photos when the store was closing in December 2008.
It soon became Poundland – and today it has a huge Pep & Co clothing department exactly where Ladybird clothing used to be. They kept the Woolies door and window frames and painted them green.
Next time I am in Uxbridge, I will take a photo, but if you look closely at the top of the ‘skyscraper’ bit of the building, you can still see the imprint of the WOOLWORTH letters.
52 Castle Square, Haverfordwest, Dyfed SA61 2AE
Woolworths opened in Haverfordwest in 1929, originally on Bridge Street. Woolworths then moved to Castle Square in the late 1950s, taking over part of the Castle Hotel (see below photo). The Bridge Street store was taken over by Boots. But there is no Boots on this road today – I am thinking it might be the Superdrug building.
The castle was literally behind Woolworths, so it was in a very good location where there would be a lot of potential customers.
Source: Emily & James
The store closed in December 2008.
It became a 99p store, which then became Poundland.
8-10 High Street, Romford, Essex RM1 1HT
Woolworths opened in Romford in 1929. It was originally a small store on the High Street, pictured below in the centre, left.
I think they took over the building to the left and then demolished both to rebuild a larger store. Jacqueline Anne Cottham was the section manager for Toys & Kids Clothing in 1987 – 1989. Margaret Gosling worked there for a few years and she says there was a great team there. But Matt Gilbert worked there for about six months as an Assistant Manager, and he says it was the only store he hated working in 😢. I think many of us look back at Woolies with rose-tinted glasses, but the reality is that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
My personal memory of Romford Woolworths is (I think) when I was working in Marketing at HO in the 2000s, this was the store we set up Christmas POS as a test before rolling out nationwide. I’m sure it was Romford, though my memory may be wrong. It was one of those long nights.
After Woolworths closed down in December 2008, the Romford unit became a Poundworld. But they have since gone bust also.
96 – 102 Fore Street, Upper Edmonton, London N18 2XA
Woolworths opened in Upper Edmonton, North London, in 1929. As you can see in the below photo, it was originally a classic two-storey building.
Then it was extended to the right, taking over the neighbouring shops to create a Horticultural department and a Toy department. It looks like the fascias of the extensions were hand-painted. It does look ever so quaint.
All 3 units were merged into one during a refurbishment – probably 1960s/70s time. You can just about see the new store on the right of this photo.
The store closed in the 1980s, and today you will find 1st Discount and Superdrug in its place. I’m kind of sad the little shop units from the 1940s have gone!
30-32 Dock Head Street, Saltcoats, Ayrshire KA21 5EG
Woolworths opened in Saltcoats in 1929. It was a small store with classic Woolworths architectural features. See it pictured below.
Former employee Tony Coghlan remembers when there was a huge spring tide combined with rough weather that flooded the store. Staff were rescued from the back stairs by a boat via the front doors! When he got there the water had receded and he found seaweed draped over the spin racks.
For Kevin Alexander it was the first store he got to pro tem as an 18-year-old. He was the youngest member of staff in the store. Saltcoats Woolworths closed in December 2008.
Today it is a Farmfoods store, and you’ll see they have kept all the Woolworths features on the outside – doors, windows, pillar, tiles.
Source: Rainy, I.
71-73 High Street, Howgate Centre, Falkirk FK1 1EQ
Woolworths opened in Falkirk, Scotland, in 1929. Originally it was a straight store with a back entrance (photographed below).
When the Howgate Shopping Centre opened, the store was enlarged and became L-shaped, with another entrance into the shopping centre.
Marianne Ellis remembers going there in 1985 for an interview to rejoin after being made redundant from 124 Dunfermline. After being interviewed by Linda Wallace and Liz Hamilton, she started as Assistant Manager on 02/09/1985 and her career carried on from there. Steve Lloyd was her manager at Falkirk.
Another former employee remembers Christmas parties at Adrian’s Bowling Club. And some stories that cannot be repeated apparently!
Debbie Dryburgh started in 365 as a Saturday girl on entertainment. Then when she finished university, she got accepted on to the fast track scheme. She stayed with Woolies (after a stint in many different stores) until she ended up manager in Bathgate store for closure. She says, “Some of my best memories of work come from Falkirk. Loved it there….. Xmas nights out…. When we all went to the bowling club with our drinks tickets…. Trying to score extra tickets from the boss David Richards for more drinks😉😂
That store is now a Wilko with some Woolies characters still there holding the building up… and they’ll have some stories”
Falkirk Woolworths closed in December 2008, and in 2011 it became a Wilko.
60 – 62 Kings Road, Chelsea, London SW3
Woolworths opened on the King’s Road in Chelsea in 1929. Another branch of Woolworths opened in laters years on the opposite end of the same road. This one was at numbers 60 – 62, and it opened in an existing parade of shops.
Source: The Library Time Machine
The store closed before 1995 as it is not on that store list. Today you will find Boots in its place, and what looks like the same central pillar.
53 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2AN
Woolworths opened in Lewes in 1929, and they traded in the same location on Cliffe High Street all the way to December 2008.
Today an Intersport sports shop trades from the building, but look closely and you’ll see front windows/doors have not changed from the Woolworths days.
277 – 281 New Cross Road, New Cross, London SE14 6AS
Woolworths opened in New Cross, South East London, in September 1929. Until 1944 it was just an ordinary store, but sadly it became the Woolworths store well known for being hit in Britain’s worst V2 attack. It was during WWII, while people were doing their Christmas shopping. At the time when 30 colleagues were serving more than 100 customers with hot drinks, saucepans and gifts for Christmas. 168 people died. The tragedy is written about in detail on the Woolworths Museum website – which you can read here and here.
It took 15 years for the store to be rebuilt, and it reopened in 1960.
The store closed in the 1970s, and today you will find an Iceland store in its place.
12 – 14 Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay, Gwynedd LL29 7NU
Woolworths opened in Colwyn Bay in 1929. It was on a corner plot on the junction of Abergele Road and Woodland Road. See it on the left of this photo.
From what I can gather online, there was a stockroom upstairs.
Colwyn Bay Woolworths 1955
Source: Townscape Heritage Initiative
It lasted until the end, when the chain went bust in December 2008. But what was unique about Colwyn Bay Woolworths was that they had a giant Santa at the side, while the store was closing down. I mean, look at this photo!
It became a home store that also closed down, but today it is occupied by Spar and Subway.
18 Queen Street & 9 Eldon Street, Barnsley, Yorkshire
Woolworths opened in Barnsley in 1929 on Queen Street with a back entrance on Eldon Street. On the 1972 store list, both addresses are listed.
Source: Tasker Trust
In the 1960s work started on building a new Woolworths superstore. The hotel next door was knocked down.
The new store opened in the 1970s – the was the Queen Street side.
And this was the Eldon Street side.
The store closed down in March 1983 and opened in the new shopping centre as store 1182 – which I will cover in a future post. Today the old building still exists, split into units including Costa, Holland & Barratt (which has replaced Burton/Dorothy Perkin pictured below), Specsavers, Barclays, Optical Express and TUI. The Holland & Barratt backs onto Eldon Street.