575 – 577 Stockport Road, Longsight, Manchester M13 0RG
Woolworths opened in Longsight, an inner area of Manchester, in 1932. For this post, I have found an extract from Manchesterhistory.net, where Paul Seaton the author of “woolworthsmuseum.co.uk” and ‘A Sixpenny Romance, celebrating a century of value at Woolworths’ tells us about Store 481 Longsight:
“Like so many the building was designed by B.C. Donaldson, but using his standard template for a fast, cheap build, adapted to a comparatively wide frontage. At the time the local authority had plans to widen the road, reserving the right to convert the A6 into a dual carriageway, with a further service lane at the sides, and a dual tramway reservation in the centre of the road. (In its way this was the precursor of the Mancunian Way, and to be honest would have dramatically improved that section of the A6 in a way that would still be appreciated today.) As a result the main store build was set back to the proposed new building line, with a ‘temporary’ flat-roofed arcade section, which could be simply and cheaply removed without loss of trading when the road scheme went ahead. The idea was to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ rather than requiring shoppers to walk through a 50 foot void to enter the store.
History shows the road scheme never happened, and, judging by (the present day) photo, the flat-roofed arcade has survived pretty much intact 85 years after being erected by Woolworth’s own workmen, which isn’t bad considering it was only expected to last from 1932 to 1935!” [Extract from Manchesterhistory.net]
Source: Insight of Longsight
“The redevelopment in Stockport and consequent migration of trade southwards down the A6 left the Longsight Woolies only just breaking even, as the area suffered particularly badly during the de-industrialisation of the area in the mid 1970s. The nail in the coffin was the opening of the Asda store, nearby. (Around 1978, I think, I remember taking several trips there when I was learning to drive) The Asda was the first for miles around, and I well remember how extensively it was marketed in Bramhall (where I lived at the time), with promotional features and coupons in the Stockport Advertiser and Stockport Express, and door-dropped leaflets not only in Bramhall, but across Hazel Grove, Cheadle Hulme and out to Cheadle and Cheadle Heath, despite it being a good 45 minutes drive at virtually any time of day.
I can bear witness that the non-food offer at that store was broader and cheaper than the Woolies offer, with the Longsight store appearing positively medieval (not quaint just awful), compared with the ultra-modern space age Asda. By 1980 Store 481 was losing money. The new owners decreed that (after a year’s grace for local staff to try to turn things around), any store which could not achieve a ‘semi-net’ profit of at least 10% of their sales (defined as profit before any market rental) would be closed. The Longsight store was freehold, but this was deemed to have a value of only £50k. it paid no rent and still made a loss, so it had to go. It was closed at the end of the trading year 1982-3, with the staff all offered transfers to either Store 48 in Stockport, or the recently reinstated Store 4 in Manchester, the site of the tragic fire on 8 May 1979, on the corner of Piccadilly and Oldham Street. (The few colleagues who opted for the latter, suffered the ignominy of losing their jobs twice, when that store ‘retired’ on 21 January 1986, while some of the Stockport contingent stayed with the firm for another twenty-five years.)”[Paul Seaton – Extract from Manchesterhistory.net]
Source: Insight of Longsight
The store closed down in 1983 and today the building still exists, occupied by ‘Farmfoods’.
50 – 54 Alexandra Road, Moss Side, Manchester M16 7BQ
Woolworths opened in Moss Side, Manchester, in 1932. It was on Alexandra Road which was a busy and bustling shopping street back in the day. The store traded here until the 1970s or 80s – the actual date of closure is unknown.
Source: Manchester History Revisited
Today the Woolworths store building does not exist as the whole of Alexandra Road was redeveloped for mainly housing.
54-55 Fitzgerald Way, Salford, Manchester M6 5LJ
Woolworths opened somewhere in Salford in 1931. Although I have no photos of the original store, former store manager Tony Coghlan paints a pretty good picture of it from his days there in the late 1960s. “Gosh, 435 Salford, my first store as manager! Even then it was old fashioned. Emergency lights were gas lights and the wooden floor had to be oiled weekly and then valspar spread on it. The gasometer was at the rear and we always had a smell of gas. Then one day we found we had a gas leak in the store and had had it for years! Nevertheless I just loved that store and the wonderful staff.”
From the sound of it, Woolworths needed to move to a new building. And when the new Salford Shopping Centre opened in 1972, they moved in with a much larger new store, complete with oversized letters on the fascia.
Source: Kersal Flats
Source: Kersal Flats
Source: Kepcove, D.
The new store came with new problems… shoplifters. Kevin Alexander says he was “Pro tem in Salford in 1976. What a store. A bit like “High Noon”. Shoplifters every day, relationship with police brilliant. Gerry was the ideal manager for that store.”
Simon Sharp remembers “Gerry McEvoy was the manager of Salford for many years – what a character. He knew how much was being nicked by how high the toddlers were in their strollers.”
Oh dear! The store lasted to the end though, and closed in December 2008.
Source: Old Salford
Today Home Bargains is in the unit.
12 – 14 St Mary’s Gate, Manchester M1 1PX
Extract from Woolworths Museum: “(the store) had fallen prey to German bombers during a two-night blitz of the City, suffering a direct hit at 9.40 pm on Sunday, 22 December 1940. Reconstruction commenced in 1948, with the new premises opening in 1951. For several years the store stood alone in the centre of a bomb site, before the neighbouring properties were rebuilt.”
Source: Manchester History
“The successful and popular freehold superstore was one of those sacrificed in 1972 to fund the huge cost of decimalisation. The decision to close was particularly ironic, given that questions had been asked in Parliament about how the chain had managed to obtain the steel for the huge girders in its superstructure shortly after World War II despite the City already having a large Woolies nearby on the corner of Oldham Street and Piccadilly. Most of the staff transferred to one of the neighbouring branches at Piccadilly or in Salford.”
I don’t know what retailer moved in after 1972, but today you will find Joy and Paperchase in the building. They have somehow made the building look better too, new windows by the looks of it.
Store 77 opened in Stretford Road in Manchester in 1918. It is not on the 1972 store list so it must have closed down before then. The whole road is full of new build flats on Google Street View, so I see no sign of a Woolworths store. This is going to be a short post. If you know of any information on this store, please do comment and let us know.