Leeds – Store 5

140/142 Briggate, Leeds LS1 6BU

The fifth UK store opened at The Exchange Buildings at 131 Briggate on the 8th March 1910. This was the first Woolworths in Yorkshire. The store was on the ground floor, whilst the upstairs were used as offices and bedrooms for the Grand Central Hotel next door.

Leeds Woolworths 1912

Leeds Woolworths 1912

Source: Woolworths Museum

It was a small Victorian-gothic building that looked quite grand. They hoped the store would attract society people as they passed on their way into the banking halls around the corner. The store did really well here, with the salesfloor packed to overflowing at peak times. Which meant the firm had to find bigger premises.

On 1st December 1928 the store relocated next door, building a brand new store with a grand Art Deco style facade, that replaced the Albion Hotel. (It’s the white building with the canopy in the middle of the below photo)

Leeds Briggate Woolworths c1948

Leeds Woolworths c1948

Source: Leodis

In 1959 the building was extended and modernised to be a superstore for Woolworth’s Golden Jubilee year, opening on 26th February 1959. The design is a recognisable Woolworths one – Portland Stone facade with a central section of aluminium with blue glass panels. The introduction of toughened armour-plated glass meant shopfronts could be more transparent. Displays of merchandised were moved from the centre to the side windows. The central window showed a double staircase to the lower ground floor, and an escalator leading up to the Foodmarket on the first floor. Escalators were the new thing at this time.

Leeds Woolworths 1959

Leeds Woolworths 1959

Source: Morrison K., Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street

In the above photo you can clearly see the staircase to the lower floor, looking quite grand. And in the below photo, there you can see the escalator going up to the self-service Foodmarket. There was also a 444-seater cafeteria on this floor. A novel feature of this store was a record department with listening booths.

Leeds Woolworths 1959

Leeds Woolworths 1959

Source: Morrison K., Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street

Leeds Briggate Woolworths 1965

Leeds Briggate Woolworths 1965

Source: Leodis | A Photographic Archive of Leeds – read the comments in this link, there are some lovely memories from locals.

The below photo was taken a few years before the store closed down in 1987, being one of the many city centre stores that were sold in the eighties.

Leeds Briggate Woolworths 1982

Leeds Briggate Woolworths 1982

Source: Yorkshire Post

In 1987,  a well-known department store in Leeds called Schofields and Rackhams moved their store here, and they became part of the House of Fraser chain – which brings us to today.

Leeds Briggate former Woolworths now House of Fraser

Leeds Briggate former Woolworths now House of Fraser

Source: Longbottom B.

It’s lovely to see the front is pretty much the same, just the windows on the upper floors seem to have posters in them now. The ground floor entrance doors have been moved to the centre with window displays on both sides. There’s still a cafe by the looks of it, though I wonder if the basement floor still exists.

If you are ever in Leeds, do go into House of Fraser and look for any clues of Woolworths past.

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2 responses

  1. As you appear to be working numerically, did you email Store 2? You’re bringing back lots of memories, challenges and successes. Maurice

    On 12 April 2018 at 07:40, Woolies Buildings – Then and Now wrote:

    > sabrina posted: “140/142 Briggate, Leeds LS1 > > 6BU The fifth UK store opened at The Exchange Buildings at 131 Briggate > on the 8th > March 1910. This was the first Woolworths in Yorkshire. The store was on > the ground floor, whilst the upstairs were used as offices and bedrooms” >

    Like

    1. Hello, yes I’m doing them in number order now (don’t know why I didn’t do that in the first place!) I think the emails go out automatically, but the link here if you didn’t get it: https://wooliesbuildings.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/preston-store-2/

      Like

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