4 Balfour Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 4JH
The Ilford store was a relatively new one in the history of Woolworths stores – but the address has a fascinating history. Originally it was the Ilford Super Cinema which opened on 14th October 1922. In WW2, Ilford suffered the most German V2 rocket hits and the cinema was one of the casualties in 1945 – the building had to be boarded up.
In 1959 – 14 years later – the cinema was demolished and a C&A built in it’s place – a pretty eye-catching C&A building too.
Then when all the C&As closed down in 2000, Woolworths took on the lease of 6 of them – Chester, Metro Gateshead, Wood Green, Derby, Slough and of course Ilford.
The building, together with its illuminated Woolworths signs, always caught my eye whenever we drove through Ilford to get to my cousin Rori’s house. As a young local, she was quite distraught when C&A closed and threw a tantrum in the new Woolworths store… so C&A had it’s fans too. Here is a photo she took:
Ex-Woolworths employee and local Kerry Phillips reminisces, “I worked there for a couple of Christmases and always remember lots of people frantically shopping for last minute sweets and chocolates. The year Leona Lewis won X Factor I remember that song got to number one and it was played in store all day! “
She also remembers buying a CD on it’s last weekend of trading and how upbeat everyone was being. The Ilford store closed on 2nd January 2009.
In October 2009, a Wilkinson’s opened in it’s place. So although this is not a traditional Woolworths building, it is an iconic one and will probably stay a part of Ilford for many years to come.
Actually, here is an architect’s impression of Ilford after the proposed ‘urban realm scheme’ – it looks like they want Wilko’s gone and a cinema or something movie-themed in it’s place, I’m guessing in homage to the original Ilford Super Cinema.
13-15 Northbrook Street, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1DJ
Woolworths opened in the market town of Newbury on 3rd March 1928, next to the prestigious department store Camp Hopson. It started off in small premises – here is a photo I estimate from 1930s:
Source: Newbury Community Forum
In the early 60s, the store was extended to nearly double it’s size, and the front fascia completely remodelled.
Source: Newbury Community Forum
After the makeover, the store front didn’t change much in appearance over the years, although it did have a series of extensions at the rear. Below is the store around 1965, with Burtons on the other side. We can see how traffic is building up here.
Here is the store in the late 1980s, before the street got pedestrianised in 1998.
Newbury Woolworths closed on 30th December 2008, after 90 years of trading. Here is a photo from when I visited the town in March 2009. From these photos you can see the buildings have not changed since the 60s, and the M&S clock is still standing (needs a new battery though 😉 ) – Northbrook Street has a lot of listed buildings, making it very picturesque.
Today it is a Wilko (or Wilkinson’s) – I went inside and it is just like walking into Woolworths. The aisles and pillars are the same as before, and the store seems to go on for miles! There’s a back side entrance that leads on to a car park and the back of Camp Hopson. It is nice to have a replacement that does remind you of Woolworths.