65-67 The Broadway, Uxbridge Road, Southall, Middlesex UB1 1LB
Woolworths opened in Southall in 1929. It was a small two-storey purpose-built store on the Broadway (Uxbridge Road) with the classic architecture that you will probably recognise by now.
In the late 1960s, Janet Brown worked at this store. She remembers wages being done in store, paid weekly in cash, with the payslip put in little brown envelopes. She has happy memories of working there.
I actually remember Southall Woolworths from my childhood, it saved me from the boredom of being dragged around Asian shops by my parents – spice shops, clothes shops, jewellery shops, fabric shops – all too boring for a 7-year-old. But in Woolworths my brother and I would want to stay in there forever, going up and down the toy aisle. It was a larger store in the 1980s – you can see in the photo below from the upper floor architecture that it was extended to the left, I would guess this was done in the 1930s-40s. Any later then they would have changed the look of the upper floor. My ‘My Little Pony’ stable was from this branch – I still have it today. When they halved the store, I think in the early ’90s, I was so upset!
The store closed in December 2008 and became a 99p store. When Poundland bought them out, they closed this branch down as there was already another Poundland in Southall. Now it is the ‘Himalaya Shopping Mall’, but look up and you’ll still see the original Woolworths architecture.
96 – 102 Fore Street, Upper Edmonton, London N18 2XA
Woolworths opened in Upper Edmonton, North London, in 1929. As you can see in the below photo, it was originally a classic two-storey building.
Then it was extended to the right, taking over the neighbouring shops to create a Horticultural department and a Toy department. It looks like the fascias of the extensions were hand-painted. It does look ever so quaint.
All 3 units were merged into one during a refurbishment – probably 1960s/70s time. You can just about see the new store on the right of this photo.
The store closed in the 1980s, and today you will find 1st Discount and Superdrug in its place. I’m kind of sad the little shop units from the 1940s have gone!
60 – 62 Kings Road, Chelsea, London SW3
Woolworths opened on the King’s Road in Chelsea in 1929. Another branch of Woolworths opened in laters years on the opposite end of the same road. This one was at numbers 60 – 62, and it opened in an existing parade of shops.
Source: The Library Time Machine
The store closed before 1995 as it is not on that store list. Today you will find Boots in its place, and what looks like the same central pillar.
277 – 281 New Cross Road, New Cross, London SE14 6AS
Woolworths opened in New Cross, South East London, in September 1929. Until 1944 it was just an ordinary store, but sadly it became the Woolworths store well known for being hit in Britain’s worst V2 attack. It was during WWII, while people were doing their Christmas shopping. At the time when 30 colleagues were serving more than 100 customers with hot drinks, saucepans and gifts for Christmas. 168 people died. The tragedy is written about in detail on the Woolworths Museum website – which you can read here and here.
It took 15 years for the store to be rebuilt, and it reopened in 1960.
The store closed in the 1970s, and today you will find an Iceland store in its place.
112-113 Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London SE1 7AF
Woolworths opened in Lambeth in 1929 – this was on Lower Marsh just behind London Waterloo station. It was a small two-storey building, purpose-built with the familiar Woolworths architecture.
Source: Lambeth Photo Archives
There isn’t much information about the store online, but I can imagine it was a busy and bustling one, being in such a central London position, by a main railway station. Although it was very close to Elephant & Castle and Walworth branches. The store closed in June 1986, as part of the Kingfisher closures, when they closed stores that were too close to other branches. Sorry, I feel I’ve used the word ‘close’ too many times in this paragraph!
It became an Iceland store, and they kept the Woolworths architecture.
In 2013, the upstairs (which is private apartments), was extended upwards. What is nice to see is that the developers kept the style of the Woolworths architecture, even the central pediment at the top.
40 – 42 Chapel Market, Islington, London N1 9EN
“In 1929 F. W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd built one of its characteristic neo-Georgian stores at Nos 40 – 42 Chapel Market, a large L-shaped building with a second frontage at 20 – 29 Liverpool Road.” [Extract from British History Online continued below]
This standard Woolworths style applied to stores that were two storeys high and five bays wide, built with red brick and pale grey concrete/reconstituted stone dressings. The three central bays broke forward very slightly, and the central trio of windows were framed by pilasters with moulded caps. These supported a cornice with paired modillions that carried a shallow, pedimented parapet. At first the Islington store had the upper half of the pilasters made of concrete and the lower half clad in thin pearl granite slabs. (Woolworth’s 100 years on the High Street – Morrison K.) In the 1990s these pilasters were covered in the cream tiles we all recognise today.
“In 1991–3 the Liverpool Road arm was rebuilt to the south, at No. 17, making room for an extension to Sainsbury’s on the corner of Tolpuddle Street. The new Woolworths block, designed by Watts & Partners for Chartwell Land, had a plain front, the upper parts in darkish brick. No. 15, a single shop unit on the site of two shop—houses, was also part of this redevelopment. Variety in the street frontage was maintained through the use there of paler, pinker bricks in a sober unornamented neo-Georgian manner.” (British History Online)
Islington Woolworths 2008
Sadly Islington Woolworths (or Angel Woolworths as I used to call it), was one of the four London stores that were closed down in the summer of 2008 – Chiswick, Clapham, Edgware Road and Islington. They were sold to Waitrose, but it still wasn’t enough to save the company.
If you go to Chapel Street, the original Woolworths architecture is still there on the upper floor.
102 – 105 High Street, Whitechapel, London E1 7PW
Woolworths opened in 1928 in Whitechapel, East London, on the corner of Whtechapel High Street and Commercial Street, at numbers 102 – 105. It was in a building that has a long history – you can read more about it here. Venables furnishers/drapers went out of business in 1928, which was when Woolworths acquired the building. The building was altered to make that canted corner you can see in the photo below, and there were further building alterations in 1939. The building was severely damaged in WW2, but whereas nearby store 337 was abandoned, this one was repaired between 1948 – 1951. In 1955 the frontage was reinstated and the upper floors rebuilt.
Source: The London Picture Archive
In 1954 Woolworths had put their lease for sale as they wanted to build a new store across the road at numbers 115-118. After they moved it became a shoe shop, then a knitting shop, and more recently a sports shop. Today it is Sports Direct.
115 – 118 High Street, Whitechapel, London E1 7PW
Woolworths moved into their new purpose-built store in 1960. It was literally next to the entrance of Aldgate East tube station.
Source: Historic England
But just a couple of decades later they closed, presumably part of the 1980s Kingfisher closures. Very recently the whole site was redeveloped into a high-rise building, I think its an office? The only clue to this being the site of the old Woolworths is the Aldgate East tube station entrance.
211/213 Portobello Road, London W11 1LX
Woolworths opened in Portobello Road, Notting Hill in 1928. The below photo from ‘The Library Time Machine’ shows the store in 1958.
Source: RBK Local Studies
In 1961, another Woolworths opened around the corner at Notting Hill Gate (Store 1047) – I do wonder whether the two stores did compete with one another.
Former employee David Bray has kindly shared his memories, “I worked there back in the day, late 70s. Chris Tee was the manager. It was during the time we used to get reps around, and around Christmas, some of them would bring a little present for the manager. Anyway, it got right up to Christmas eve and not one rep had bought Chris a gift. But then, one came in and gave him a bottle of whisky…. he was over the moon! Closing time came, we went to the local for a pre-Christmas drink, and then left to drive home…. Chris had his precious bottle under his arm, as he put his car key in the lock, his arm moved, the bottle fell, and the contents quickly drained down a nearby drain … his face was a picture!!
Also if you watch the opening credits of “Only Fools and Horses” you can clearly see the store, including the “Winfield” shopping basket logo.
I had a great time there, including the day I caught two nuns stealing a pair of plimsoles, leaving their old ones behind! We told Mother Superior who promptly threw them out of the convent! Happy days!!”
The freeholders wanted to demolish this building when the lease ran out in June 2008, but locals fiercely demonstrated against this (Source: http://www.standard.co.uk). Shame just six months later, it had to close anyway with the rest of them. This one closed on Saturday 27th December 2008.
I can happily report that the freeholders have kept the Victorian building, and it is now Poundland.
412 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 1DJ
Woolworths opened in Muswell Hill, North London, in 1928. I have no photos of the store in the early days, but we know from the extract in the photo below that the store was extended in 1963, with a 1960s look that you will recognise on the upper floors.
In 2000, a General Store trial began, and Muswell Hill was the second store to be converted under the trial, with a new store number of 2001. The trial ended and the store turned back to a normal Woolworths, although similar to Twickenham, keeping the General Store fascia. The store closed in December 2008.
Source: Whippet C.
The 99p Store moved in, which became a Poundland. If you are ever shopping in Muswell Hill Poundland, well now you know it was a Woolworths.
115 – 119 High Street, Camden Town, London NW1 7JS
Woolworths opened in Camden Town in 1928, down the road from the Kentish Town branch. It was close to Camden Town Underground station, on the junction of Delancey Street and the High Street, and it was a purpose-built single storey store.
Source: Museum of London
Just cut of on the left of this photo is the Woolworths store in 1977. You can see the experimental oversized letters.
The store lasted until the end, closing after the chain went bust in December 2008.
It became a Sports Direct – the building is still the same on the outside but the windows have been covered.
809/813 Romford Road, London E12 6EA
Woolworths opened on Romford Road, Manor Park, in 1928. It was on the junction of Carlyle Road opposite Second Avenue. The store took over the premises of W.Laver, Weaver & Draper – here is a photo from 1915 before it became a Woolworths.
Thanks to former Manor Park resident Tony Quinlan, we have a beautiful 1962 photo of the building as a Woolworths. He reminisces, “I remember standing by my mum on the wooden floors that they had then, and not being tall enough to see what sweets she was buying me from the sweet counter! The girls behind each counter wore lovely uniforms.”
According to the Newham Story Forum, this building was occupied by House of Holland in the late 1960s, a shop that sold sun loungers and camping equipment. This means Woolworths left Romford Road quite soon after the above photo was taken. The 60s was when returns-per-store started falling. As there were 100 London Woolworth stores, I can guess this was one that they closed to consolidate – especially with the East Ham and Upton Park branches so close by.
Today the building is split into three, occupied by UAE Xchange, Top Hat Pizza and Ch Domestic Appliances – I took this photo from my car when I was stuck in traffic on the way to my good friend’s wedding 😛 I would never have guessed this was a Woolworths once upon a time. The trees have long gone, but if you compare it with the 1915 and 1960s photos, it is quite remarkable how the upper half of the building is unchanged, even the chimneys are still there.
Top 2 photos: Quinlan, Tony
Newham Story Forum
This post was originally written in 2014.
572 – 574 Roman Street, Bow, London E3 5ES
Woolworths opened in Bow, East London, in 1928. It was on Roman Road in a purpose-built single-storey buidling. You’ll be familiar with the architecture by now, with the centred pediment.
The building remained unchanged over the years if you look at the upper floor. But the frontage was updated, probably in the 1990s when Woolworths ‘Local’ stores were introduced.
Source: Diamond Geezer
Former employee Tony Cue has a random fact about Bow Woolworths – part of The Bill Series 1 Episode 3 “Clutching at Straws” was filmed from the roof of the store and the side for the streets scenes.
The store closed in January 2009 and it became an Iceland. But look up and you’ll see some Woolworths architecture.
Newington Butts, Elephant and Castle, London SE1
Woolworths opened a store in Elephant and Castle, South London, in 1928. It was a single storey store on Newington Butts, that sadly only traded for 13 years.
The whole store was destroyed during WW2. Here is an extractr from the Woolworths Museum:
“Woolworth store ‘313’ in Newington Butts, Elephant and Castle, wasn’t so lucky. Sustained bombing on the night of 10 May 1941 set the whole area ablaze. Firefighters fought valiantly to prevent the inferno from destroying all in its path, but were unable to save the store. By morning only its flank wall and a few steel girders were still standing.
The staff were re-assigned to neighbouring stores, with half moving to Lower Marsh, SE1 and half to Walworth Road, SE17, each within half a mile. At HQ an executive updated the Elephant and Castle’s entry in the master list of stores with “EA 10/5/41″, indicating that it had been completely destroyed by enemy action.” [Extract from Woolworths Museum]
The store did not reopen. Over 20 years later, in 1965, Woolworths returned to Elephant and Castle in the new shopping centre, with a new store number of 1104. This will be covered in a future post.
Meanwhile the store number of 313 was reassigned to Arnold, which opened in 1965. I don’t quite understand, if both stores opened in the same year, why the new Elephant & Castle store did not keep store number 313. Surely the Arnold store should have been 1104? Well, nothing makes sense in the world of Woolworths.
56 – 60 Denmark Hill, Camberwell, London SE5 8RZ
Woolworths opened their 310th store in Camberwell, South London. It was on Denmark Hill, and going by the look of the upper floor in these photos, it had a makeover in the 1950s. You can see the updated store in the centre right of this photo.
Over the years we can see the fascia was updated with newer Woolworths logos, but the windows look original from the thin black metal framework, and the doors are wooden. A lot of the comments on Facebook mention memories of the wooden floors inside, how noisy they were to walk on.
The fascia was updated once more before the store closed for good in January 2009.
After closure it was a 99p store for a short while. Then it became a Peacocks store, but today the unit is vacant once more.
Source: Farmer, P.
163/165 High Road, Balham, London SW12 9BG
Woolworths opened on Balham High Road in 1928. It took over the premises two doors down from Barclays Bank, which you can see in the below 1915 postcard.
Source: Wandsworth Heritage Service
It was a very successful store, winning a regional window-dressing contest in the 1930s. Woolworths used to sell individual feathers for 3p each, as accessories for hats and gowns. The window dresser created a bird out of these feathers for the winning display:
Source: Woolworths Museum
In 1940 during WW2, a bomb hit Balham High Road in front of the Woolworths store, hitting the Northern Line Tube Station platform below. A bus crashed into the crater. Here is a photo of the bus being lifted out – behind the bus would have been where the Woolworth store was.
Source: Feeling My Age
Below is a great photo from 1974, showing Woolworths with it’s 70s fascia. This shopping parade is quite unique as it appears to have houses above each store to the rear.
In 2000, the store was one of the first to be converted to a Woolworths General Store, which offered a pharmacy, health & beauty products, general merchandise and convenience food. Balham was a pilot, renumbered to store 2002, with a Superdrug pharmacy moving instore. The General Store format didn’t do well, and it went back to a normal Woolworths store some years later, before becoming a 10/10 store.
A more recent photo, this is shortly before Woolworths closed on 5th January 2009, window displays not looking as great as they did in the 1930s.
Source: hugovk, Flickr
That same year, a 99p store opened in its place.
They were taken over by Poundland.
More recently (in 2019), the store has become the first ‘Aldi Local’ in the UK – it’s a smaller style Aldi that doesn’t have the middle aisle!
This post was originally written in 2015.
7-11 Chrisp Street, Poplar, London E14
Woolworths opened in Poplar, East London, in 1928. It was on Chrisp Street in a small purpose-built store. It had an unusual shopfront with square windows. By 1939 the store had been extended to the right.
The area was bombed heaving in WW2 as it was close to London’s docks. The shopfront survived but the upper floor must have been damaged and dismantled for safety. (Source: K. Morrison – Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street)
10 Vesey Path, Poplar, London E14
In the 1950s Woolworths moved to Vesey Path which was built parallel to Chrisp Street. It was in the Lansbury Estate that formed part of the ‘Live Architecture Exhibition’, built as part of the Festival of Britain 1951.
These photos have been supplied by Tony Cue. They were taken in 2006 when the store reopened after a 5/5 refit.
The store closed in December 2008 and it became an Iceland.
130 – 134 Rushey Green, Catford, London SE6 4HN
Woolworths opened in Catford in 1927, on Rushey Green. At some point it was extended to become a large L-shaped store, with a side entrance on Holbeach Road. From the front there was a coffee bar on the right as you walked in. The below photo was taken in the 1960s when a church service was taking place in front of the store. Look at the beautiful detailing on the windows.
In the 1960s, the store manager used to sit in a raised office at the back so he could see everyone. A former Saturday girl from that era remembers not being allowed pockets or boots “in case we put money in them. Our bags were checked before we left the shop as well. I think I worked on most counters for the princely sum of 16 shillings (80p) less 3d for NI. Hours were 9-6, no automatic tills, we had to work it all out ourselves. But for all that I thought I was rich!!”
Source: Hayzelden A.
The store closed down in 1985. Today the Rushey Green side is occupied by Specsavers and a betting shops. As for the Holbeach Road side, the back of the former Woolworths is part of ‘Catford Mews’. It looks like the back of the recently closed Poundland was the Woolworths side entrance.
Catford Former Woolworths
374 – 378 Green Street, London E13 9AP
Woolworths opened in Green Street, East London in 1927. Historically Green Street is the road that divides East Ham from West Ham. There isn’t much information the Woolworths store, but from the address we know it was very close to Upton Park tube station. Green Street was heavily bombed in WW2, but we have no information as to whether Woolworths was hit. From the style of the building today, we can guess there was a 1950s makeover.
The store closed in February 1994, and today it is Peacocks. But look up and you’ll see some Woolworths architecture.
435 – 441 High Road, Wembley, Middx HA9 7AE
Woolworths opened on Wembley High Road in 1927. It was a small store, quite close to Wembley Central tube station. At some point the store extended into the shop on its left – see below the unit that says ‘Woolworth’ in a strange typeface. You can see the original store saying F.W. Woolworth. It was on the corner with London Road.
In this photo you can see Woolworths on the right side, opposite M&S. The upper floor seems to have gone, so this photo may have been taken mid-makeover.
As you can see from the more recent photo, the store had a makeover with the familiar 1960s style upper floor, and the fascia/shopfront more uniform rather than looking like lots of shops put together.
In the 2000s the store was converted to a ‘General Store’ which included a pharmacy and a small food range. The store number was changed to 2027.
The store closed in December 2008 and became a 99p store. This then was taken over by Poundland – so now this Poundland directly faces the original Poundland that is in the old M&S building.
Source: Soult G.
740 – 742 High Road, North Finchley, London N12 9QD
Woolworths opened their 280th store in North Finchley in 1927. It was on the High Road, on a corner plot with Stanhope Road. They traded here until January 2009. From the style of the building we can guess there was a 1950s makeover.
Source: Addison M.
Today it is Poundland, where if you look closely you will recognise the Woolworths doors, tiles and black border.