27 High Street, Weybridge, Surrey
The Woolworths in Weybridge is slightly different from others in that it was due to open in 1939 but didn’t due to the outbreak of WWII. It was actually was used as the Woolworths Head Office during the war, and then finally opened to the public as a store in 1946.
Source: Francis Frith
The website www.youraudiotour.com has written about the history of Weybridge Woolworths, so I will share that here:
“…Woolworths decided to open its 760th branch in this premises in 1939. At the time, it was a store which had all the most modern shopping features and fixtures. The outbreak of the Second World War just months after the store had been completed, however, meant that its opening to the public had to be postponed, and the shop was boarded up with ‘Closed for Duration’ signs in the windows. It was instead used as a temporary headquarters by the Woolworth’s head office when their main office in the West End of London became inaccessible due to bomb damage to the building next door.
After peace was declared, Woolworth’s head office returned to London, and the Weybridge store was finally opened to much public anticipation in 1946.”
Some more detail about the temporary head office days from the Woolworths Museum:
“The building fabric of the store at Weybridge, Surrey (No. 760) had been completed in 1939, but, rather than fit out the salesfloor with counters, it had been equipped with desks and phones to make a temporary headquarters in case it was needed. The contingency plan addressed the risk that the New Bond Street Office in the West End of London was in area which was likely to be targeted in German air raids. This proved a wise move when the Burlington Arcade next door to the office was hit, leaving the office inaccessible for weeks. Work carried on as usual in Weybridge.”
The below photo is from when the store finally opened in 1946.
Source: Woolworths Museum
The store closed in the 1970s/80s. Today you’ll find the Princess Alice charity shop and Boots here. Look closely at Boots and you’ll notice they have kept the Woolworths shopfront and pillars.