19/23 Palmerston Road, Southsea, Hants PO5 3QA
The 50th Woolworths store to open in the UK was in the seaside town of Southsea (after the neighbouring Portsmouth branch opened a year earlier), opening on 26th June 1915 at Palmerston Road. Below is the road in 1925, one of these shops was the Woolworths.
Source: Past and Present Publications
As sales were good, the building was extended in March 1932. Unfortunately this was one of the 26 stores that got destroyed in World War 2, on 11th January 1941.
After the war, Palmerston Road was redesigned, and Woolworths moved to a new location at numbers 19-23, opening on 10th October 1951 with a newly designed store. The new building was more accessible, with wider step-free entrances, and was significantly larger and brighter.
From this photo you can see they even put a ‘Woolworth’ fascia above each set of doors.
Source: Baker, Richard
Southsea Woolworths was one of the last stores to convert to self-service in 1973, I presume it being a laid-back seaside town, they took their time 😉 In 1988 the building was split in half, with 22-23 given to Superdrug. Then the store was was modernised again in August 1992.
Source: Baldock, James (used with permission)
Southsea Woolworths closed on 2nd January 2009, looking pretty much as it did in 2004 in the photo above. It lay empty for over 2 years.
Then, making a change from the norm, the council decided to open a library at this site. Southsea Library opened on 29th July 2011, complete with a cafe serving coffees and cakes “and in honour of Woolworths’ memory, a themed pick and mix box for children.” (Source: Portsmouth Lib Dems)
What’s nice to see is that above the library and Superdrug, the building appears exactly as how it looked in 1951. If you ever visit Southsea, do have a look.
Source: Custodian Reit plc