Birmingham New Street – Store 266

103/104 New Street, Birmingham B2 4HG

Woolworths opened its second Birmingham store, after the Bull Ring, in New Street in July 1927. They traded from this side of the road for about 20 years, until there was serious bomb damage during WW2.

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1930s-40s

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1930s-40s?

Source: Birmingham City Centre Past Facebook group

In 1956, the site of Birmingham’s Theatre Royal – which was located opposite the original New Street store – was sold to Woolworths. In the 1950s the Board was working with City Councils and development companies to transform inner city stores – in this case, they decided to build a skyscraper called ‘The Woolworth Building’. It was designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow who built it in two parts –  the first in 1958-61 for Woolworths, the second part for Jack Cotton & Partners. According to the Birmingham Pevsner Architectural Guide, it was “New Street’s architectural disaster… a shapeless mass of Portland Stone, mosaic cladding and green slate stepping up to ten storeys.” – a bit harsh 😛

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1960s

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1960s

Above is the ‘skyscraper’, which opened for business in 1961. The offices upstairs generated a substantial rental income for the company.

Below is a side angle of the store from the 1970s. Sadly when Kingfisher took over, they closed this store in 1983 along with the Bullring store. So for a while there were no Woolworths in Birmingham City Centre, until the 1990s when a store opened in the Pallasades Shopping Centre.

Birmingham New Street Woolworth

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1970s

Source: Warrick, Mark

Today, the building is now named “Charters Building”. The building on it’s left is the surviving ‘Piccadilly Arcade’ section of the Theatre Royal. In the 1990s, there was a refurbishment of the offices, and the glass lift was added. The retail unit has been split into three and are occupied by Superdrug, Bella Italia and Boots. So if you’re ever having dinner at Bella Italia in Birmingham, just remember you are sitting in a quite historic ex-Woolworths!

Birmingham New Street 2014



8 responses

  1. […] first time Woolworths had returned to Birmingham City Centre after the closure of the Bull Ring and New Street branches back in the 1980s. This photo is from my Facebook group, showing a great window […]


  2. […] Woolworths opened in Birmingham City Centre on Spiceal Street in 1921, 6 years before the nearby New Street branch […]


  3. There was a cheap and cheerful clothes shop occupying the middle floor of the Bull Ring store in the mid 90s when I was there. You could tell it was one of the early stores to do as it still had the trademark Woolies orange and grey flooring and the grey wall panelling.
    There were still the escalators in situ too although those to the basement were closed off as this level was empty I’m assuming this would have been the food hall, as there was a central atrium type thing which gave a really good view of the vacant and dark basement.
    There was some strange partitioning in place for the escalators, still working, leading to the top floor as a furniture retailer, possibly Harvey’s occupied this floor, what had possibly been a side entrance or fire exit had been made into the entrance to the furniture store.
    You really got the sense of what an amazing store this must have been in it’s hey day.


    1. Wow, thank you for your memories, I always wondered what was inside the old store after it closed. Sounds a bit eerie!


  4. I think the New Street shop closed in around 1986. I bought a clock/radio from there while I was a student (started in 1985) from “Electronic World” which was simply a small Comet shop inside Woolworths!

    On a happy note, the clock radio still works and is in regular use some 30 years on! 😀


    1. Ohhh is that what Electronic World was – a Comet! That is brilliant that the radio is still working, it must be great quality – I hope you get many more years out of it! 😀


  5. I’ve never lived in Birmingham but vaguely remember the New St and Bull Ring stores as a kid.
    However, I work in Birmingham sometimes and I remember visiting a branch of my gym at the rear of New St. I had no idea about the building but the moment I walked in and saw a staircase sweeping down either side it was very obvious it was the rear exit to Woolies and the original staircases that I remembered so well from my childhood. I know the gym changed hands several times and not sure what is there now but I do hope the staircases have survived!


    1. That is so lovely to hear, I do hope the staircases survived. I love finding little bits of old Woolies here and there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: