Ilford – Store 1241

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.

Ilford Super Cinema 1920s

Ilford Super Cinema 1920s

Source: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14414

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.

Ilford C&A 1960s

Ilford C&A 1970s

Source: Ilford in Pictures Facebook Group

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:

Ilford Woolworths 2008

Ilford Woolworths 2008

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.

Ilford Wilko 2014

Ilford Wilko 2014

Source: http://www.crossrail.co.uk

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.

Architects Impression of future Ilford

Architects Impression of future Ilford

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3 responses

  1. Think you have forgotten to include woolworths when it was in ilford high road long time before it was located at the old c&a building. It was located a few doors away from the town hall opposite Harrison gibsons in the 1970s on the site which was once burtons clothing store..

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    1. Hi Sean, thanks for that. That store was under a different store number, haven’t got around to doing it yet. Thanks for the info, will definitely research into it! Sabrina 🙂

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      1. Hi again Sabrina, thank you for your reply. An external photo of the Woolworth’s store in question at ilford on the high road has recently been published on the ilford in pictures facebook group which you may find of interest for your site..

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