98 London Road, North End, Portsmouth, Hants PO2 0NA
Woolworths opened their third Portsmouth store in 1927. The other two were Store 35 (Commercial Road) and Store 50 (Southsea). Store 289 was on London Road in North End. It was originally a small store – below is a photo of it from the 1940s, where you can see the windows have been boarded up to protect from air raids in WW2.
Source: Historic England
After the war had ended, the store was extended and had a makeover. Below you can see the new, larger store on the right side. The photo is undated from Pinterest, but from the cars I am guessing this is the 1950s. It looks like the tram stop was directly in front of Woolworths. Next door was a cinema that had opened in the 1930s.
Ian Exeter worked at North End Woolworths from July 1973 as a Saturday boy until 1978, by which time he had progressed to a trainee manager. He kindly sent in this photo from the 1970s, and also a photo of the manager at the time, Glanville Davies, who he says was a true gent and a great manager.
Source: Exeter I.
Richard Graver was Assistant Manager at North End in the 1990s, before moving on to be AM and then Store Manager at Petersfield Woolworths. He tells us that in the late 1980s, the North End salesfloor was halved – the front half being the new salesfloor and the back being the new stockroom. This left the enormous first floor stockroom empty. Store 562 Petersfield used this as a satellite stockroom as did a couple of other stores. (A satellite stockroom is one where other branches could store their excess stock, particularly if they had limited space).
Former employee Mark Sawkins worked at North End in the 1990s when the store had it’s ‘Local’ refit – around 1996/7. He loved working there, though he does remember having to move the area manager’s car during the refit and nearly crashing it!
The store lasted until the end, closing on 2nd Janaury 2009. This is a photo from Google Streetview after the store closed, with the fascia still up.
It became a 99p store, which turned into Poundland when they bought them out. Now it is a Poundland/Pep & Co – it would be interesting to know whether they opened up the salesfloor back to its original size. The building is instantly recognisable as a former Woolworths store, from the upper floor 1950s architecture to the tiles on the side pillars. Next door, the former Odeon still there – the Art Deco frontage now taken over by Sainsbury’s. Behind the supermarket lies the spooky abandoned cinema. And in front of Poundland you can see the tram stop that became a bus stop is still there.