13-15 Northbrook Street, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1DJ
Woolworths opened in the market town of Newbury on 3rd March 1928, next to the prestigious department store Camp Hopson. It started off in small premises – here is a photo from the 1930s:
Source: Newbury Community Forum
In the early 1960s, the store was extended to nearly double its size, and the front fascia completely remodelled.
Source: Newbury Community Forum
After the makeover, the store front didn’t change much in appearance over the years, although it did have a series of extensions at the rear. Below is the store around 1965, with Burtons on the other side. We can see how traffic is building up here.
Source: The Changing Face of Newbury – Higgott, T.
Here is the store in the late 1980s, before the street got pedestrianised in 1998.
Newbury Woolworths closed on 30th December 2008, after 90 years of trading. Here is a photo from when I visited the town in March 2009. From these photos you can see the buildings have not changed since the 1960s, and the M&S clock is still standing (needs a new battery though) – Northbrook Street has a lot of listed buildings, making it very picturesque.
Today it is a Wilko – I went inside and it was just like walking into Woolworths. The aisles and pillars are the same as before, and the store seems to go on for miles! There’s a back side entrance that leads on to a car park and the back of Camp Hopson. It is nice to have a replacement that does remind you of Woolworths.
This post was originally written in 2014.
17/18 Peascod Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1DX
Woolworths opened in Windsor quite soon after Slough, in 1927 – the difference being that this was the Queen’s local Woolies:
“Her Majesty once told The Daily Mail that she had done her Christmas shopping at Woolworths. She was spotted occasionally in the large store in Peascod Street, just a short walk from Windsor Castle.” [Extract from Woolworths Museum]
Below is a picture from 1968 – Woolworths is on the right hand side, next to Bata shoes.
Close up of Woolworths above, with ‘Sale’ sign on the door advertising ‘Stacker tumblers 5d each’ and ‘Brobat’ reduced to 1/-. Where the 60s ladies is walking is exactly where the man is standing in the Boots photo (see at the end of this post).
Above is the store in August 2008, still trading, before it finally closed in December that year.
Today it is a deceptively large Boots, with perfumes along the narrow front section of the store, leading on to a huge floorspace at the back. I read on a forum that back in the 60s when this was Woolworths, shoppers liked to go to this part of store to escape the fumes from the buses. Apparently M&S and Woolies were best for escaping the pollution. Good thing it’s all pedestrianised now.
Also I like how Boots have kept the little flagpost that used to hold the Woolworths Cafe sign.
This post was originally written in 2014.
190 High Street, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1JS
Woolworths opened in Slough, Berkshire in 1927, on the busy and bustling High Street. You can see the store in this 1930s photo, with its 3d and 6d fascia and Art Deco facade. Woolworths is on the far left, a few doors down from the Eagle pub, which was recently River Island and then Select (now vacant). Boots is on the far right, still there today.
Source: The Changing Face of Slough
Here is the store twenty years later, you can see it in the background with the canopies. This photo shows the first EVER zebra crossing in the UK, when it was opened in 1951 – on Slough High Street. It’s now just the pavement in between Boots and the Queensmere shopping centre. They should put a commemorative plaque here.
Source: The 1951 Club
This 1950s video actually shows the Woolworths store in the background. The road was busy with vehicles and there was a traffic light pedestrian crossing directly in front of Woolworths. The zebra crossing can be seen in the distance.
In the 1960s Woolworths had a makeover and changed the front facade. It still had creaky wooden floors though. Former employee Margaret Doe remembers “I worked there on lots of the counters. Lightbulb counter…had to test them as we sold them!”
Wendy Smith worked there in the late 60s to early 70s and she says they sold everything you could possibly need back then. Her first wage was 2 shillings and 10 pence an hour. Madeline Hernandez had her first Saturday job on the sweet counter. “Hot cashew nuts – yummy. You would not believe how much people spent on sweets then. Pounds and I had to add up the total, as the till did not do it.”
We also have a 1960s Woolworths love story from Trevor and Pat Roberts. “We met there in 1965 when we both had Saturday jobs in Woolworths on Slough High Street. We are still married and very happy. I think, I had better check with Pat! Pat was on the biscuit counter, so she sold loads of broken biscuits. She also used to laugh when people asked for Nice biscuits, pronouncing it nice. She used to jokingly say, “They are all nice!”
I worked in the stockroom, so she mainly saw me when I came down to sweep the floor in the evening. Fortunately we both achieved a bit more than floor sweeping and biscuit selling in our working lives.”
In 1972 Lynne Turnbull worked at the store after leaving school. She says it was the “best job I ever had. Pic n mix and the great slabs of cake and broken biscuits…” A few years later in 1975, Lynda Woodhouse-Hall got her “first job after I left school. I was the wonder of Woolworths. My mum also worked there, and my boyfriend worked next door in Fosters”. Tracey Caley worked on pic & mix “I ate more than I sold, and I had to wear a silly little hat!” and Carol Blunt worked on the make-up counter as a Saturday girl and has lots of happy memories.
Lee-ann James says “When I was 16, I went to Woolies High Street for a Saturday job and ended up in the staff canteen as cook – start of 1976…” and Tracey Suzanne remembers “This is where I got my first new bike. Remember looking at it for months every Saturday and then Santa brought it Xmas 1979.”
One Slough resident Gaynor Steer remembers “shopping here one Christmas Day…… Apparently, according to the Slough Observer, the police entered the store and demanded it closed but it stayed open and was fined, but Woolworth had made huge profits by then so they wee not bothered. It was very exciting shopping on Christmas day. I think it must have been in the late 70s early 80s.”
In 1982 the store had a further makeover – this photo shows notices in the windows announcing that the store would be closing in February for two weeks for alterations. Also in this colour photo, we can see the facade of the upper floors was actually blue, which was quite unusual.
In July 1983, my mum and I were shopping in Slough, I would have been 4 years old. We used to go shopping there for special occasions (there was less choice in our hometown of Uxbridge in the 1980s). It happened to be the day before she gave birth to my brother, she remembers. I said to her, “Wow, so do you remember Woolworths when it was in the High Street then?”. She said to me “Yes it was outside.”
A year later in 1984, Woolworths on the High Street closed down. The unit was split into two – the left side became Currys/Dixons and the right side was an independent Home store. Both stores closed in the late 2000s, and then a company bought the building to refurbish it as it had fallen into poor condition.
Source: Crowther Associates
After the refurbishment it was let out to Poundland and JD Sports in Autumn 2010, and they are both successfully trading today.
I went into the Poundland in Slough to see if I could find any clues of it having been a Woolworths. All I could find was possibly these stockroom doors – they look quite old especially around the windows, so these could be the doors from when it was a Woolworths.
Slough did not have a Woolworths for a few years. Then they returned in the 1990s, as Store 1173.
8 The Observatory, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1LE
Woolworths returned to Slough when they opened in the new Observatory shopping centre on 14th June 1991 (where Primark is now). Below is a photo of the store being opened by retail director Martin Toogood and store manager Ken Webstar. According to the Woolworths Museum website, “…several Shopping Centres, like Slough’s Observatory Centre, offered ‘anchor’ sites in new developments at heavily discounted, capped rents. These stores opened long before the neighbouring properties were occupied, and helped to persuade others to take on tenancies.”
Source: Woolworths Museum
Today Primark is in the old Woolworths unit in the Observatory shopping centre.
Nine years after Woolworths had opened in the Observatory shopping centre, they moved, with another new store number of 1243.
106/109 Queensmere, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1DQ
In 2000 Woolworths moved to the Queensmere Shopping Centre, taking over the C&A site when they closed down. It was quite a large store with an upstairs floor too. It had escalators to the right, and upstairs was Ladybird clothing and Home. The store lasted until the end, with its last day of trading being 2nd January 2009.
Today it is B&M Bargains, downstairs floor only, a cluttered store selling a mis-match of home goods, furniture, food and toys – remind you of anywhere? 😉 The escalators/stairs are covered by a wall of shelving, currently toys.
So there you have it, a history of three Woolworths in Slough. If you are ever shopping here, well, now you know which ones were the Woolworths stores.
90/90a High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1PU
Woolworths opened in the Berkshire town of Maidenhead in 1925, on the High Street. It was next to Barclays Bank (who are still there today, albeit in a more modern building).
Source: Postcards of Maidenhead
Maidenhead was one of the first stores called ‘Woolworths’ with a ‘s’, having been Woolworth before then. This happened in 1985 when it was chosen to be a ‘Cornerstone’ Store along with Orpington and Bedford, where they launched the Ladybird clothing range. The 6 cornerstones were DIY, Leisure and Play, Homewares, General Convenience, Clothing and Daily Provisions. In this photo, you can see ‘Quick Snacks’ and ‘Crusty Bread’ through the window.
Source: Woolworths Museum
Below are two pictures that I took myself, as I used to work around the corner. First is before the closure announcement, second is when the store was closing down.
Today you will find Wilkos in its place, but look up and you’ll see the original Woolworths architecture.
61/64 Broad Street, Reading RG1 2AJ
Woolworths originally opened at 51 Broad Street, Reading in the Spring of 1922, which is where H&M is today. Some pretty fantastic vintage photos of the Reading store have been put up on www.reading-forum.co.uk by markjuk. (http://www.reading-forum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5709&p=51409)
The store was expanded to have entrances in Broad Street, Friar Street, Union Street and West Street, often used as a shortcut by shoppers to get from Friar Street to Broad Street. It sounds like it was MASSIVE, I can’t even imagine!
According to the Wargrave Local History Society, “Woolworths had moved to their present position in 1939, having earlier been nearer Union Street, although for a period in the late 80’s it was a shopping mall, then becoming Woolworths again.” Source: http://www.wargravehistory.org.uk/nov98.html
Now this shopping mall concept sounds interesting. According to 100thbirthday.co.uk, it was originally a prototype for a new large store format called ‘Jupiter’, but they decided on ‘The Woolworth Mall’, piloting Ladybird clothing, the ‘Le Cafe’ restaurant, as well as opticians, show repair and estate agent concessions and selling large kitchen appliances! The mall used yellow and grey colours rather than the traditional red and white, although not for long as the concept was dropped quickly in favour of getting rid of huge city centre stores.
“The site was closed for redevelopment in 1989, closing on 17th June. When the development was complete Woolworths moved into a small store in part of its original footprint, which opened on the company’s 85th birthday, 5th November 1992 (Store 1180).” Extract from 100thbirthday.co.uk (Source: http://www.100thbirthday.co.uk/images/StoreGallery/pages/0111Reading-1950.htm)
When I took these photos, I did notice how new the building looked – definitely not an original. The Reading Forum clarified this – Markjuk recalls “that a fire in the early 90s caused by squatters who in habited the derelict building, set fire to it causing extensive damage to the old Broad Street entrance prompting it to be demolished a few months later. Rather than save this art deco architecture, it was demolished and replaced with a bog standard brick building of no significance.” (Source: http://www.reading-forum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5709&p=51409)
And today it is a shiny new Clas Ohlson, selling pretty much what Woolies used to sell. I do like their pastel coloured straws 🙂