Category Archives: Essex

Chelmsford – Store 355

40/41 High Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1DF

Woolworths opened in the Essex town of Chelmsford in 1929. In the late 20s when Woolworths was rapidly expanding, the chain had started to take over old hotels. In Chelmsford they took over the site of the King’s Head Hotel, a building which had been in the High Street since the 15th Century. The building was demolished and the standard single storey Woolworths store was built in its place.

Chelmsford Woolworths 1930s

Chelmsford Woolworths 1930s

Source: Essex Record Office

Chelmsford residents fully embraced the new large store, believing the building improved the overall look of the High Street. You can see it below on the right of the photo, which shows the High Street junction with Springfield Road.

Chelmsford Woolworths 1930s-2

Chelmsford Woolworths 1930s

Source: Essex Record Office

During the World War II, the store was hit. Wooden counters caught fire, but luckily there were staff inside to put the flames out, and the store reopened soon after.

In the 1960s, the store expanded, having obtained 6 units on Springfield Road, so that it became a large L-shaped corner store.

Chelmsford Woolworths 1982/3

Chelmsford Woolworths 1982/3

Source: Flickr, Sarah

Chelmsford Woolworths 1985

Chelmsford Woolworths 1985

Source: Flickr, Sarah

In 1987, there was a conversion to a Focus store and the more familiar fascia we all remember.

Chelmsford Woolworths 1996

Chelmsford Woolworths 1996

Source: Flickr, Sarah

Chelmsford Woolworths closed on Friday 2nd January 2009.

Chelmsford Woolworths 2008

Chelmsford Woolworths 2008

(From my Facebook group)

Chelmsford Woolworths 2008Chelmsford Woolworths 2008 (Springfield Road)

Chelmsford Woolworths 2008 (Springfield Road)

Source: Flickr, Mathews T.

In 2010 Barclays Bank moved to the High Street side. The Entertainer and Lakeland moved into the Springfield Road side.

Chelmsford Barclays 2015

Barclays Bank 2015

Chelmsford Entertainer 2015

Chelmsford Entertainer 2015

Chelmsford Lakeland 2015

Chelmsford Lakeland 2015

Sources: 192.com

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Billericay – Store 911

101 High Street, Billericay, Essex CM12 9AW

Woolworths opened in Billericay in 1955/1956. They took over the site of the Telephone Exchange on the High Street, which had been on this spot from 1929 – 1952. The Telephone Exchange was demolished and Woolworths built the store in the below photo. It opened at a time when Self Service was just being introduced to the High Street – you can see the sign above the doorway in the centre.

Billericay Woolworths 1950s

Billericay Woolworths 1950s

Source: Essex Record Office / Billericayhistory.org.uk

Here is a lovely memory of Billericay Woolworths in the 1950s:
“And there is Woolworths which when it arrived meant we had become a modern town. I can smell the newness of it still.  It was our first experience of a self-service store with bright lights and wooden floors and low counters. Later I got my first Saturday job there earning the princely sum of 12s and 9d  for the whole day. Mostly I remember my brother  and I selecting  a birthday gift there for mother with  great  love. We chose a pink plaster poodle standing appealingly on its hind legs, its collar studded with diamonds. We did not see its tawdriness just its cuteness and picking up a box paid for it and hurried home only to find the box was empty. It had taken us so long to save that shilling  and we rushed back the two miles  so distressed we were hardly able to speak, but the supervisor, Miss Lamb, was compassion  personified and mother got her birthday present after all.” Aileen Wortley, Billericayhistory.org.uk

The store traded here for over 50 years until it closed for good on 2nd January 2009.

Billericay Woolworths 2008

Billericay Woolworths 2008

Source: Tim@SW2008, Flickr

An Iceland opened in it’s place quite soon after.

Billericay Iceland

Billericay Iceland

Source: Flickr, Ballysundriven

Ilford – Store 1241

4 Balfour Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 4JH

The Ilford store was a relatively new one in the history of Woolworths stores – but the address has a fascinating history. Originally it was the Ilford Super Cinema which opened on 14th October 1922. In WW2, Ilford suffered the most German V2 rocket hits and the cinema was one of the casualties in 1945 – the building had to be boarded up.

Ilford Super Cinema 1920s

Ilford Super Cinema 1920s

Source: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14414

In 1959 – 14 years later – the cinema was demolished and a C&A built in it’s place – a pretty eye-catching C&A building too.

Ilford C&A 1960s

Ilford C&A 1970s

Source: Ilford in Pictures Facebook Group

Then when all the C&As closed down in 2000, Woolworths took on the lease of 6 of them – Chester, Metro Gateshead, Wood Green, Derby, Slough and of course Ilford.

The building, together with its illuminated Woolworths signs, always caught my eye whenever we drove through Ilford to get to my cousin Rori’s house.  As a young local, she was quite distraught when C&A closed and threw a tantrum in the new Woolworths store… so C&A had it’s fans too. Here is a photo she took:

Ilford Woolworths 2008

Ilford Woolworths 2008

Ex-Woolworths employee and local Kerry Phillips reminisces, “I worked there for a couple of Christmases and always remember lots of people frantically shopping for last minute sweets and chocolates. The year Leona Lewis won X Factor I remember that song got to number one and it was played in store all day! “

She also remembers buying a CD on it’s last weekend of trading and how upbeat everyone was being. The Ilford store closed on 2nd January 2009.

In October 2009, a Wilkinson’s opened in it’s place. So although this is not a traditional Woolworths building, it is an iconic one and will probably stay a part of Ilford for many years to come.

Ilford Wilko 2014

Ilford Wilko 2014

Source: http://www.crossrail.co.uk

Actually, here is an architect’s impression of Ilford after the proposed ‘urban realm scheme’ – it looks like they want Wilko’s gone and a cinema or something movie-themed in it’s place, I’m guessing in homage to the original Ilford Super Cinema.

Architects Impression of future Ilford

Architects Impression of future Ilford

Dovercourt – Store 535

246-250 High Street, Dovercourt, Essex CO12 3PA

Woolworths opened in the small Essex seaside town of Dovercourt in 1934.

Dovercourt Woolworths 1934

Dovercourt Woolworths 1934

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/harwichs/7148594819

overcourt Woolworths 1936

Dovercourt Woolworths 1936

Source: http://www.harwichanddovercourt.com/

Known as the ‘3d 7 6d store’, the frontage increased by one half in 1937.
Source: Through the Shop Window – http://www.harwichanddovercourt.co.uk/shop-window/

Dovercourt Woolworths 1937

Dovercourt Woolworths 1937

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/harwichs/5519215995/

Dovercourt Woolworths 2005

Dovercourt Woolworths 2005

Below is the store just before it closed for good on 30th December 2008. I like this picture as you can really compare the High Street with the 1936 postcard above.  It looks like Nationwide was the ‘Developing & Printing’ shop, and what was Boots at the far end of the street in 1936 is now painted yellow.
Woolworths Dovercourt 2008

Woolworths Dovercourt 2008

An Iceland opened in it’s place in September 2009. Here it is:
Dovercourt Iceland 2010

Dovercourt Iceland 2010

Southend – Store 33

29/35 High Street, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1HR

“Woolworths opened in the fashionable Edwardian seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea in small premises at 29 High Street on 25th April 1914. Below shows the storefront in 1938 following an extension in 1934.”  –  www.100thbirthday.co.uk
THEN:
Southend Woolworths 1938

Southend Woolworths 1938

“A cinema front was added in 1957 when the store was extended to span 29-35 High Street. It was enlarged further in 1977, while the upper salesfloor and restaurant were closed in 1988”, and finally the whole store closing in January 2009.
Southend Wooloworths 2008

Southend Woolworths 2008

(Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/southendborough/3070234949)

TJ Hughes opened in the building in August 2010 after a £1million refurbishment, but unfortunately they also went into adminstration and closed just one year later.

Southend TJ Hughes 2010

Southend TJ Hughes 2010

Source: http://www.sarfend.co.uk/southendnews/2010/08/tj-hughes-opens-on-old-woolworths-site.html

In 2012 H&M announced they would takeover the store, making a total of 3 H&M stores in Southend! It’s trading well and certainly looks good on the high street. Southend council have also locally listed the building, ensuring we keep a bit of Woolworths history on Southend High Street 🙂

NOW:

Southend H&M 2014

Southend H&M 2014