30 – 36 Front Street, Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham
Woolworths opened in Chester-le-Street in 1927. It was quite a large store on Front Street, purpose-built with an art deco facade. You can see it in the below 1950s photo, the white building with the canopies on the far right. Chester-le-Street looks busy and bustling here, you can’t see the pavement for the amount of people on it.
Source: Francis Frith
Dee Hunter was the store manager for 3 years, between 2002 and 2005, Chester-le-Street also being her home town. The local newspaper did a piece on the town’s history where Woolies was featured.
Former employee Katherine Talbot has kindly shared this team photo from 2003. This is when the store had a makeover and reopened as a 10/10 store. She tells us that Dee cut the ribbon to open the refurbished store, while Darren Bradley (STL and entertainment guru ;-)) had Tina Turner’s Simply The Best playing.
Source: Talbot K.
Katherine also met her husband whilst working at this store, and they have since had Woolies children. I’m sure there are a lot of Woolies children out there who never had the pleasure of shopping in a Woolworths store. The Chester-le-Street branch closed after the chain went bust in December 2008.
The building was soon occupied by B&M. If you are ever shopping there, take a look up and admire the old Woolworths architecture.
232 – 242 High Street, Gateshead, Co Durham NE8 1DL
In 1923 Woolworths opened on Gateshead High Street, on the site of the Queen’s Theatre that was fire damaged the previous year in 1922.
Sadly there are no photos of this Woolworths store when it was open, but from this photo it seems there was a 1950s makeover. And the facade to the right looks like it would have been a Burtons in the early days.
Former store manager Lee Pearson has fond memories of the store and the team, and took it through a 5/5 refit in the 2000s. He also remembers there being an Index catalogue shop next door.
The store closed when the chain went bust in December 2008.
After 2 years of the store laying empty, Poundland opened there in September 2010. But this branch only stayed there until 2014, when they moved to Trinity Square.
Source: Soult G
Today the Newbridge Studios have taken over the building, so it is a gallery and an artist’s studio – quite different from what usually happens to former Woolworths building. And if you look up, you can seen the Woolies architecture is still in place.
84 Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, County Durham
Woolworths opened Store 116 in Bishop Auckland in 1922. The architecture was of a standard Woolies style. You can see it has been kept the same through the years, with the fascia being updated.
Source: Northern Echo
In this photo you can see the canopy from the 1950s has gone, and the lettering is more chunky and all in caps.
Source: Northern Echo
In more recent years, tiling was put around the round pillars at the entrance, and the fascia was red and white. The store closed in December 2008.
Today it is Boyes, and if you are ever in Bishop Auckland, you will see the instantly recognisable Woolworths architecture above.
100 – 108 King Street, South Shields, County Durham NE33 1JG
Woolworths opened in South Shields in 1921 on King Street. The town was heavily hit in World War II, and the store got destroyed. It took 8 years for it to be rebuilt.
The store lasted until the end in December 2008.
Source: Cornfoot R.
Today the building is occupied by Poundland and Peacocks (previously Store Twenty One pictured).
78-79 Northgate, Darlington, Durham DL1 1TZ
The twenty-eighth Woolworths store was in Darlington. It opened on Northgate in 1913 with Frank W Woolworth personally opening it.
Source: Woolworths Museum
The store was extended in 1927, and this is possibly when an Art Deco facade was added. Graham Soult did a lot of research to find out what the building is today, as it seems the street numbering changes across the decades – you can read more about that here. He worked out by looking at the location of building in old postcards, that the Woolworths store would have been next to BHS at 56-58, formerly Burtons, then a £5 store and now vacant.
Source: Google Maps
12-18 Northgate, Darlington, Durham DL1 1TZ
On 20th September 1940, the store relocated to bigger premises at numbers 12-18, joining togther three shops by the looks of it.
Source: The Durham Record
In the below photo, you can actually see the old store front further down the road.
The store closed in December 2008.
Source: Darlington Library
Now this old Woolworths is occupied by Next and the smaller side to the left is occupied by Holland and Barratt (not pictured here).
Source: Soult G.