Portsmouth – Store 35

121/127 Commercial Road, Portsmouth, Hants PO1 1D

100 years ago, on 22nd August 1914, Woolworths opened in the naval city of Portsmouth on Commercial Road, a year before the neighbouring Southsea branch opened. The premises started off small, but had a series of extensions in 1926, 1934 and 1938. Below is a postcard of Commercial Road in the 1920s, so you can imagine somewhere along this street stood the Woolworths.
Portsmouth Woolworths 1920s

Portsmouth Woolworths 1920s

Source: Postcards of the Past

With the city being a major naval port, it suffered terribly during WW2, and the Woolworths building was one of the casualties, being totally destroyed on 11th January 1941. The staff were moved to the nearby Fratton store.
A huge superstore was built in its place, reopening in stages from 1950 to 1953. Below is a photo that may possibly be one of the opening days from all the crowds outside.
Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s

Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s

Source: Flickr – The House of Blue Leaves

The size of the shop may have looked normal from the front, but from this birds eye view, you can see the scale of the store – massive.
Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s - birds eye view

Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s – birds eye view

The back of the store had a lovely curved feature with huge long windows. This was where the restaurant stood, on a mezzanine floor, with a spiral staircase by the windows leading up to the seating area. The restaurant had light flooding in from the windows, and there was rarely a seat free with it being so popular with customers.
Portsmouth Woolworths Back 1950s

Portsmouth Woolworths Back 1950s

Source: Woolworths Museum

Portsmouth Restaurant Seating Area

Portsmouth Restaurant Seating Area

Source: Woolworths Museum

Here is a photo of the finished store in the late 1950s, with Littlewoods next door in a similar styled building.

Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s

Portsmouth Woolworths 1950s

Source: Woolworths Museum

Below is a 1970s photo of Commercial Road from ‘A Tale of One City’, with Woolworths on the far left. This was shortly before the road was pedestrianised.

Portsmouth Woolworths 1972

Portsmouth Woolworths 1972

Source: A Tale of One City 

After the road was pedestrianised, Woolworths also had a 70s makeover, and below is a photo showing the new fascia.
Portsmouth  Woolworths 1970s

Portsmouth Woolworths 1970s

Source: 100thbirthday.co.uk

Between 1986-1989, the Cascades Shopping Centre was being built at the rear of the shops on Commercial Road, and Woolworths had to reduce its size as a result, and lose that lovely restaurant and those curved windows 😦
There wasn’t much change in the 1990s… My cousin worked there one Christmas – she reminisces “Yeah, it was fun”
Here is a photo from 2004, showing Woolworths really standing out with their signage. Littlewoods Extra is next door, but they closed down the year after and Primark took over that space.
Portsmouth Woolworths 2004

Portsmouth Woolworths 2004

Source: Woolworths Museum

Below are two photos from 2008 before Woolworths closed down, one from the High Street and the other from the Cascades shopping centre entrance.

Portsmouth Woolworths 2008 - front

Portsmouth Woolworths 2008 – front

Source: Flickr – Jainbow

Portsmouth Woolworths  2008 - back

Portsmouth Woolworths 2008 – back

Source: Flickr – Jainbow

Portsmouth Woolworths closed on 27th December 2008. The shop lay empty for 2 and a half years, possibly as it was such a large space. Then in 2011, neighbouring Primark announced they were planning to extend into the 30,000 sq ft space, creating one giant super-Primark.

Portsmouth Primark 2014

Portsmouth Primark 2014

Source: 192.com

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2 responses

  1. […] 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, […]

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  2. […] Hampshire Woolworths you may be interested in: Portsmouth – Store 35, Southsea – Store […]

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