77 – 81 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent
Woolworths opened in Tonbridge in 1928, taking over the premises of Parry & Ede confectioners. They demolished the old shop and put up a purpose-built Woolworths store.
The 1928 Tonbridge County School Magazine announced the arrival of Woolworths as follows: ‘Some months ago one of the small, old shops in Tonbridge, a baker’s shop and a tobacconist’s shop were suddenly demolished. Amid clouds of dust the crowd watched in wonder and amazement, and soon cartload after cartload of bricks arrived. Then the workmen began to build, and a rumour went round that Woolworth’s had come.’ It goes on to say that ‘This Woolworth’s is loved by everybody, and every evening between the hours of six and seven crowds will collect and walk up and down as if they were at a fashionable seaside place walking on the promenade.’
Remnants of this affection were voiced by other members of the public and one lady recounted her successful job interview which had involved a maths exam. She went on to work at the food counter but was always getting told off for doing the calculations in her head rather than by listing the sold items on paper. She also recalled how scared all the staff were of the new electric till and how they were too afraid to press the buttons. [Extract from Kent Life Magazine]
Over the years there were makeovers, the fascia with updated logos, but the windows and doors remained the same.
This Woolworths lasted until the end, closing after the chain went bust in December 2008.
Source: Croft R.
It became a 99p store, which was then taken over by Poundland. With another Poundland already on the High Street, they closed this one, and today the unit is occupied by Mid Kent Bed Centre. But look closely and you’ll see the Woolworths windows, doors and tiled pillars still in place.