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 🙂
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 I estimate from 1930s:
Source: Newbury Community Forum
In the early 60s, the store was extended to nearly double it’s 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.
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 60s, 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 (or Wilkinson’s) – I went inside and it is 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.
17/18 Peascod Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1DX
Woolworths opened in Windsor quite soon after Slough, in the mid-1920s – 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.” Source: http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/xmas-adverts.htm
Below is a picture from 1968 – Woolworths is on the right hand side, next to Bala 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. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dimikagi/2912132072
Now it’s a deceptively large Boots, with perfumes along the narrow front section of the store, leading on to a huge floorspace at the back – with a massive baby section. 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 🙂
90/90a High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1PU
Opened in the 1920s, 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. (Source: Woolworthsmuseum.co.uk)
Below are 2 pictures I took, as I used to work around the corner. First is before the closure announcement, second is when the store was closing down.
It is now a Wilko, which really brightens up the lifeless high street – no offence locals 😉 Why did they get rid of the benches??
190 High Street, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1JS
This store was one of the early ones, opened in the 20s. Below is a picture I found in Slough library from the 1930s (Source: The Changing Face of Slough) – Woolworths is on the far left, and the Eagle pub is now River Island. Boots is on the far right, still there today.
Here is the store 20 years later, you can see in the background with the canopies. This was when the first EVER zebra crossing in the UK 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 or something.
Source: The 1951 Club
Here is a postcard I found on Ebay – Woolworths is on the left. It appears they did a store makeover in the 1960s and changed the front facade.
Below is the High Street store in 1982 “with notice in the window announcing that the store would be closing in February for two weeks for alterations”
Now my mum and I were in Slough in July 1983 the day before she gave birth to my brother. I said to her, ‘Wow so do you remember Woolworths when it was in the High Street then?’ – She says to me ‘Yes it was outside’
8, The Observatory, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1LE
Woolworths left the High Street site in 1984, and then opened in the Observatory 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
106/109 Queensmere, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1DQ
In 2000, the store 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. Here is a photo I took when it was closing down in December 2008, with it’s 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? 😉