Leicester – Store 49

50a – 54 Gallowtree Gate, Leicester LE1 1DB

Woolworths opened their 49th store in Leicester on Gallowtree Gate in 1915. The store was substantially enlarged in the 1920s and 1930s, as it was a very popular store.

Leicester Woolworths 1930s

Leicester Woolworths 1930s

Source: Leicester Memories

Leicester Woolworths 1930s

Leicester Woolworths 1930s

Source: Soult’s Retail View


A new look F. W. Woolworth store opened in Gallowtree Gate, Leicester in 1965, having been upgraded without actually closing. It was a ‘store of the future, with a new look inside and out – new music (the first to get a “modern” record department), soft goods, grocery (food hall on first floor), fashion and sports counters and a first floor restaurant. It had two large salesfloors, each with a brightly polished terrazzo marble floor in the firm’s distinctive pink and grey chessboard pattern.

Leicester Woolworths 1960s

Source: Woolworths Museum

The store was one of a few that pioneered new lighting, flooring and wooden ‘Clothing Tower’ fixtures. It had a sixty foot (18m) fashion counter featured garments in every colour of the rainbow. Nylon and Courtelle fabrics took the place of wool and cotton, but purchasers rarely returned for more, after finding the fabrics itchy and chafing.

Leicester Woolworths 1960s

Leicester Woolworths 1960s

Source: Leicester Mercury

In the 1980s, the Leicester store modernised again as a prototype ‘Weekend’ store and it was a hit with shoppers.

Leicester Woolworths 1980s

Leicester Woolworths 1980s

Source: Memories of Leicester

But shortly afterwards the building was sold to BHS when Kingsfisher took over and they were selling off city centre stores to make money. This store closed in 1984, there was a 2 year gap and then they opened a new store in Haymarket Shopping Centre in 1986 (Store 1141).

Leicester Former Woolworths - BHS 2010

Leicester Former Woolworths – BHS 2010

Source: Soult’s Retail View

Of course now BHS has also gone bust, so this building is vacant, still with the BHS fascia though. If you are in town, you can see the building, it’s next to The Works and Caffe Nero.


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