105/107 The Bull Ring Centre, Birmingham B5 4QN
Originally, Woolworths opened in Birmingham City Centre on Spiceal Street in 1921, 6 years before the nearby New Street branch opened.
Source: Woolworths Museum
It was hugely successful in this location – sales were amongst the highest in the country in the 1930s – so they doubled it in size, with the addition of a large restaurant, and then made further enhancements in the 1950s. You can see below how it is over 2 stores.
Source: Nicklin, Phyllis http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/263/
Major changes were to come in the 1960s – “Woolworths own construction department worked closely with town planners and Taylor Woodrow to devise a massive redevelopment scheme for the City Centre. By releasing land owned by Woolworths they traded both for cash and a brand new store in a new shopping precinct to be known as the Bull Ring Centre. Half of the original Bullring store was demolished to allow for development, with a new ultra-modern Woolies built in its place. Woolworths then swapped into the new site allowing the rest of the old store to be redeveloped.” Source: 100thbirthday,co.uk
I have included the below photo so you can see the location of the St Martin church – this is how we can work out what is in the same location today. This is in 1962 when the new Bull Ring Centre store is being contructed with the old store next door still trading.
The Bull Ring Centre was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1964. Linked by escalators and stairs, with 23 acres of space, air-conditioning, valet parking and tropical plants(!), it was the biggest indoor shopping centre in Europe, with the largest Woolworths in Europe. Watch this video for a nostalgic insight into the building: Bull Ring Opening Video
Below is a photo from 1966, showing the ultra-modern new flagship Woolworths. It was the superstore of its time, with modernised ranges and shop-fittings, featuring a large foodhall, an extended clothing range, plus a top floor cafe where they had a ‘never seen before’ iced water machine.
Source: Dowling, Geoff
Unfortunately, just 20 years later, in 1983 the store closed for business, when the board decided to sell larger stores to release capital – “The Bull Ring store was one of the first to be disposed by Kingfisher in 1983 to another developer planning to raise the whole site to the ground and replace it with something architecturally significant.” (Source: 100thbirthday,co.uk) There wasn’t a Woolies in the City Centre until the 1990s when they re-opened in the Pallasades Shopping Centre.
Some forums say Mark One traded from this building in the 1990s, but this was on the other side of the ramp – so I am presuming it lay empty for decades, before the Bull Ring Centre was demolished in 2000. The new Bullring shopping centre was then built, opening in September 2003.
Source: Wilde, Brett
Below is a photo from 2007 after the new shopping centre was opened with the new Selfridges chain-mail building in the foreground. Behind the church is Borders which looks as though this was where the original Woolworths building would have been. Borders have since closed down.
Source: Warrins, Gavin
In 2011, the Bullring was extended to have a new ‘Spiceal Street’ centre with restaurants (see below). So I would say this corner is where the Bull Ring Woolworths once stood.