190/191 High Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3DX
Woolworths first opened in Exeter on 1st December 1923 on Fore Street, in former tobacconist building H C Lloyd & Son Ltd.
In 1934 they moved on to the High Street, purchasing 190 and 191, which were Garton & King and Pinder & Tuckwell. The two buildings were put together with an impressive Monks Park Stonework facade, installed by the Bath and Portland Stone Firms Ltd, which you can see below.
Source: Exeter Memories
In 1976 they moved out of this building into the then new shopping centre. Today this building is occupied by McDonalds and MenKind.
Source: Exeter Express and Echo
Unit 100, Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter, Devon EX4 3DX
The new Guildhall Shopping Centre was built in the 1970s, and Woolworths moved into a 2-storey unit in 1976. Their site was on the North Street side, with entrances on Waterbeer Street and Trickhay Street. There was a cafe on the top floor, with a third entrance/exit which led to the first floor of the shopping centre.
Source: Exeter Memories
The store closed in December 2008. Soon afterwards, Wilko took over the building, where it is still trading today. This is a view from inside the shopping centre.
7 Bank Street, Teignmouth, Devon TQ14 8AN
Woolworths opened in the harbourside town of Teignmouth, Devon in March 1932. It was a small store that remained unmodernised in 1959 – apart from its fascia, it still had all of its original features. The high island counters were made of the best mahogany, while every shopper was greeted by the distinctive sweet aroma of the oil and felspar used to treat the wooden floor. (Source: woolworthsmuseum.co.uk)
It was a store that frequently got flooded, with water having to be brushed away by staff.
Top-selling products were seasonables in summer when thousands of holiday-makers descended upon the town, and Christmas seasonables. The store would order their stock a year in advance. Staff in the summer were made up of seasonal temps and Saturday staff – a big job to manage. According to the Woolworths Museum, the store stayed behind the times in the 1960s, with customers still having to pay for products at different counters, and pic n mix having to be pointed at by the customer and measured by staff behind the counter. Customers were expecting self-service by now.
Smaller stores were given the least priority in the list of Woolworths stores getting a makeover. This made it difficult for the Teignmouth store to display new products – for example, having no hanging rails to display blouses, shirts and beachwear.
The store carried on trading successfully until 27th December 2008.
Source: Topp A., Pinterest
A Carpetright opened in its place. This is a photo I took in 2010 when we went on holiday there. I stepped inside and I just knew it was a Woolworths. The staff looked at me oddly 😉
The Carpetright then closed (I thought the fascia did look temporary), and an M&Co has opened in its place. They painted the top of the building pastel blue too, which looks quite good, a definite improvement.
2 The Strand, Dawlish, Devon EX7 9PS
Woolworths came to the Devon seaside town of Dawlish quite late on, in 1956. The building they occupied was on the Strand, and was actually built in 1919. Designed in eye-catching black and white pseudo Elizabethan style, half of the building was occupied by Cridge’s Cafe (see photo below).
It later became Holman’s Cafe and then Brunt’s Cafe, until 1956 when it became Woolworths. When it opened, it was the first ‘self-service’ store in Dawlish, ie where you could pick the goods off the shelf rather than having to ask an assistant to get it for you from behind the counter. This was such a new concept that they had to have staff at the door explaining the self-service process! Here is the store in the swinging 60s:
Source: Kingsdude/Dave, Flickr
Source: Rostance D, Flickr
And the 1980s:
Source: RMC1490, Flickr
This photo from my Facebook group was taken shortly before they closed:
On 2nd January 2009 Woolworths Dawlish closed down for good. It lay empty for a long time, falling apart and becoming quite an eyesore. This photo is from our south coast roadtrip of 2010.
In 2011 the Co-op next door extended into the Woolworths building where it now trades as one large store.
Source: JJ Justin, Flickr
122/126 Union Street, Torquay, Devon TQ2 4QB
Torquay Woolworths first opened in Union Street on 7th February 1920, extending in 1931. The neighbouring Paignton branch opened in 1932. Below is an image of colleagues preparing for their town carnival entry in 1928. Most Woolworths stores entered a float in their local procession, winning many gold medals (Source: woolworthsmuseum.co.uk)
Here is the store in the early 1960s, prior to their move up the street.
In 1964, they relocated to larger purpose-built premises at 21-25 Union Street, reopening on 11th June. (Source: 100thbirthday.co.uk) Argos took over the old building.
21/25 Union Street, Torquay, Devon TQ2 1ER
Here is the new store in 1968, 4 years after it re-opened. This photo was taken during the annual parade of the Torquay Hotels Association.
Here it is in 1988, interestingly with the more elegant F.W Woolworth fascia rather than the modern red and white Woolworth fascia that most stores had converted to in the 70s.
Source: Les Eddy, Flickr
After refurbishment in 1990, they reopened on 6th July. (Source: 100thbirthday.co.uk)
18 years later, Torquay Woolworths closed for good on 27th December 2008.
Source: Paul Anderson, Geograph
Over a year later, H&M moved into the building, opening on 25th February 2010 – almost exactly 90 years after the first Woolworths opened in Torquay – wow.
63 Victoria Street, Paignton, Devon TQ4 5ED
On 22nd July 1932, Woolworths opened in Paignton, ‘the family resort of picturesque Torbay’ as the town is described on vintage railway posters. This was 12 years after the neighbouring Torquay branch opened. Paignton Woolies opened on the former Dellers Hotel site next to the level crossing at Paignton Station, with the Gerston Hotel on its right.
After 30 years, the store had a makeover in 1966 to make it a huge superstore, featuring a cafe and deli upstairs complete with barstools and a big drinks machine!
Below is the store in 1977 (in the background), looking the same as the 1966 photo but in colour.
Here is the store in 1998, with the more familiar Woolworths frontage.
Here is the store just before it closed on 30th December 2008. It left a big hole in Paignton, with the building laying empty for nearly a year.
Then on Saturday 12th December 2009, the 99p store had a grand opening – the Paignton 99p Store was the 123rd UK 99p Store and the 52nd ex-Woolworths store to be re-opened by the company. That’s a lot of 99p stores.(Source: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk) The upstairs became a Sports Direct. I read on a forum how some locals were disappointed that they got a 99p store whereas neighbouring Torquay got an H&M in their ex-Woolies building!
Now when we went to Paignton last week, the building was under scaffolding! Still I took the above photo to replicate the one from 1977 so you can see the before and after. Below is what it looks like under the scaffolding.