150 – 154 Oxford Street, London W1N 0EY
Woolworths opened its second London Oxford Street store in April 1932. The first was Store 161 that opened 8 years earlier at number 311 (Bond Street side). This new one was at number 150-154 (Tottenham Court Road side), on the site of the Royal Princess Theatre. The store was purpose-built with grand architecture and it was one of the first stores to have a self-service cafeteria and a Quick Lunch bar. The opening was advertised in the Daily Mail in a two-page spread with the headline “Woolworth’s newest and largest store”. The advert said the cafeteria and lunch bar could seat 500 people, and the food being “the purest obtainable – home killed meat only – pure butter and lard – no substitutes”.
Cooked breakfasts were served between 9am – 11am and cost 6d. ‘Special complete’ teas were served from 3pm for 6d. Each floor had a sandwich bar selling sandwiches and rolls, glasses of milk and bottled mineral water. All Woolworths cafes operated a ‘no tips’ policy, so the lunch menu was headed “No gratuities by request”. Cakes, pastries, meats and cheeses were also sold from the deli counter. (Source: Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street – K. Morrison)
The photos are from Historic England and these show the interiors with pendant electric lighting in 1949. It certainly looks a grand and beautiful store.
Between June and September 1949 fluorescent lighting was installed, and these photos were taken as the Oxford Street branch was one of the first stores to have it installed.
Look at all that pic n mix – the labels at the front include catarrh pastilles, mint imperials and liquorice allsorts. Sweets and chocolates were rationed between 1942 and 1953 and points were required to purchase them.
Former employee Ellie Driscoll worked here in the late 60s and she has some stories to tell! “I started as a school girl working part time in 1967 in 463 Oxford Street along with my school best friend on a Saturday morning. Put straight on the till in what was known as ‘Fancy Goods’ which sold everything from alarm clocks to guitars. The section was next to the stairs that led to the general toilets in the basement. I’d only been in the section a short time when there was a blood curdling scream from the toilets and then the female cleaner run up the stairs in sheer panic. A male tourist had hung himself in the female toilets. The next working day which was a Monday there was a commotion again but this time coming from the stockroom area on the 1st floor. Shortly after a woman was frogmarched out of the staff entrance. She had only started that day but was caught having sex in the stockroom lift with one of the stockmen. He kept his job. The next day a merchandiser – really nice lady of a certain age – collapsed in the stockroom and gave birth to a baby then and there ! I was wondering what was going to happen next. When I left school I went to work there permanently as a ‘cash office girl’. I only left when I went on maternity leave. I absolutely loved it there and made some fabulous friends. Lorraine Chase worked at 463 along with her Mum – both very friendly and stunning looking. Great times”
The store closed in the 1977 when Woolworths sold the building to developers who built a shopping centre called Oxford Walk. In the 1980s it became an HMV.
Source: Lloyd, M.
This HMV closed down in 2014 and it is now Sports Direct.
Source: Boardman, D.
385 – 387 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, London SW14 7NX
Woolworths opened in East Sheen in 1932 in an existing parade of shops.
I don’t have much information on the store so this is going to be a short post. Today Tesco Express is in its place.
152 – 154 Golders Green Road, Golders Green, London NW11 8HE
Woolworths opened in Golders Green, North London, in 1932. It was on Golder Green Road, quite far down from the Golders Green tube station. The store was purpose-built with the classic, recognisable architecture.
Source: Francis Frith
The store was modernised in the 1970s and here you can see the experimental ‘WOOLWORTH’ typeface on the fascia.
Source: Woolworths Museum
The store closed down I am guessing in the 1970s or 80s – as with the previous post, the date of closure is not written on the 1995 store list. The building still exists today, with some sort of arched brickwork added on the ground floor. Still recognisable as a Woolworths. The units are occupied by Jewish Learning Exchange and Curtis + Staub Gymnasium (previously LA Fitness). The clock in the photo was added after Woolworths moved out, but it has gone now.
Source: Hidden London
156 – 160 Clapham High Street, Clapham, London SW4 7UB
Woolworths opened in Clapham, South London, in 1931. It was at 156 – 160 High Street. (The more recent one that people remember was at 174 – 180 Clapham High St, Store 1218, that opened in 1999). Below is a photo of the first store. It opened in an existed building.
Source: Babs Stutchbury
Source: Babs Stutchbury
The store closed in August 1987. Today Esca and Superdrug are where the Woolworths store was.
Source: Moxley Architects
20 – 22 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London EC13 4QJ
Woolworths opened in Clerkenwell in 1931. They took over the premises to two shops – a hosier and a greengrocer. It was right next to the church on Exmouth Market.
Source: O’Brien, C.
Source: O’Brien, C.
The store traded here for 58 years, closing in January 1989. It became a William Hill betting shop.
256 – 258 The Broadway, West Hendon, London NW9 6AG
Woolworths opened in West Hendon in 1930 on The Broadway. They opened as part of an existing parade of shops, with residential flats above it (see below on the left).
Source: Francis Frith
The store traded for 40 years, closing in 1970. There was another Woolworths branch nearby (Hendon – Store 750) so there probably wasn’t a need to have two stores so close to each other.
After closure, the unit was vacant for years according to Forgotten London Woolworths, before becoming a pub called The White Lion of Mortimer, run by Wetherspoons. That closed in the 1990s and today a shop called Way 2 Save is in the unit.
207 – 211 Church Road, Willesden, London NW10 9EP
Woolworths opened in Willesden in 1930 on Church Road. It was just one mile away from the Harlesden branch (Store 11). It traded here for 40 years before closing in the 1970s.
Today the building has been demolished – so it is a mystery whether it was a purpose-built Woolworths building, or whether it simply looked like the neighbouring buildings.
Source: Forgotten London Woolworths
The reason for the demolition is probably due to this planning permission request – which has been granted:
“Full planning permission is being sought by Catalyst Housing Group for the demolition of buildings within 205 and 235 Church Road, and the redevelopment of a section of Church End car park site to the rear of Church Road to erect a part 2,3,4,5 and 6-storey building containing 65 residential units, 298m2 (GEA) retail floorspace, together with 7 car parking spaces.”
43-45 Watford Way, Hendon, London NW4 3JH
Woolworths opened in Hendon in 1930 on Watford Way, near to Hendon Central tube station. They traded here for 40 years, as it was one of the stores that was closed down in the early 1970s. It became an Argos store for a while, and today it is a shop called ‘Way 2 Save’.
131-135 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5EL
Woolworths opened in Burnt Oak, Edgware, in 1930. It was on the Broadway and opened in a parade of shops (see below on the left).
They traded from the same location right until the end in 2009. That’s nearly 80 years. Former employee Margaret Gosling has a fun fact about 396 Edgware – “It was the last store to go live on EPOS in 1994, the first being Edgware Road”
Joscelin Lane has two random stories from her days in Edgware store. The first one is quite gross, so skip this part if you’re squeamish. “First was the man that came in one Saturday with not so white trousers but proceeded to walk round and shake poo out of his trouser leg. Is the only time I have ever pulled rank on a clear up operation! The second was the call from a man in America wanting two Kinder Surprise eggs and two Nestle Magic Balls parcelled to send to Washington DC which I thought was a Jeremy Beadle wind up so said I would call him back. It was genuine and the UPS courier turned up 20 mins later to collect the parcel worth £2 on a 12 hour fast track costing a whole lot more.”
This Woolworths closed for good on 3rd January 2009.
It became a 99p Store, which kept the 1950s Woolworths floor…
…and the Art Deco ceiling.
99p Stores were taken over by Poundland, which the store is today.
203 – 205 Brompton Road, London SW3 1LW
Woolworths opened on Brompton Road in London in 1930. This is the road with Harrods on it, so presumably this was an upmarket branch of Woolworths. Unfortunately I can’t find any photos of the store when it was open, and it closed down in the 1970s. From the numbers 203 to 205, we can work out that it was where Boots and the small neighbouring unit is today (see below photo).
Source: Soult, G.
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.