53 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2AN
Woolworths opened in Lewes in 1929, and they traded in the same location on Cliffe High Street all the way to December 2008.
Today an Intersport sports shop trades from the building, but look closely and you’ll see front windows/doors have not changed from the Woolworths days.
20 – 26 London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1AG
Woolworths opened in East Grinstead in 1929. The building is quite interesting as the upper floor had the right side in line with the street and the left side back a bit. So we can guess the store was small to start off with – probably the right side. And then extended to the left in later years. Or vice versa. Have a look at this photo from the 1960s.
The store traded here right until the end, closing after the chain went bust in December 2008.
It became a 99p store and then a Poundland. But all the classic Woolies features still exist, from the upper floor architecture to the cream tiles to the doors.
19 – 21 Surrey Street, Littlehampton, Sussex
Woolworths opened in Littlehampton in 1928 on Surrey Street. It was a small single-storey store – see it pictured below on the right side.
Source: Pubs History
In more recent years it had a makeover to become a Woolworths Local, and the frontage changed so that the entrance doors were to one side. The windows were covered up as the back of the till area faced the windows.
This is a photo of the store after closure.
It became an Iceland, and although the ground floor front has changed, look up and you’ll see the original Woolworths architecture.
18-20 London Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 1QA
Woolworths opened in the seaside town of Bognor Regis in 1928. I have found an undated postcard below of London Road and it looks as though the tall building in the centre, left side, is the F.W.Woolworth store.
The store had a 1950s makeover, but then in 1978 there was a terrible fire that started in the stockroom. It was the August Bank Holiday so it was a very busy shopping day. A fire started in the stockroom upstairs. It had possibly been smouldering for 20 minutes before the alarm was raised. One of the firefighters Mick recalls “”We went up into the stockroom with our breathing apparatus on. But we soon discovered that the fire had got such a good grip that part of the ceiling collapsed down into the store taking a lot of burning debris on to the shopfloor. That’s how the fire really got going.”
It became an inferno and the town’s biggest blaze, aerosols were going off in the shop because of the heat of the fire and the flames were coming through the windows. The store was gutted. [Extract from Bognor Regis Observer]
Source: Bognor Regis Museum
16 years later the store came into trouble again. In 1994 there was an IRA bomb explosion and 15 stores were damaged. Woolworths took the brunt of the explosive force. The store’s glass and metal facade was twisted and shattered by the impact of the detonation. But the company was determined to bounce back and show the bombers they could not disrupt the English way of life. Just 65 hours after the bomb went off, the store’s front doors were open for shoppers again. [Extract from Bognor Regis Observer]
After all that, the store that would not be beaten had to close when the chain went into administration in December 2008.
Source: Flickr, Mark
Wilkos now occupy the building, and you can clearly recognise it as the upper facade is exactly the same – a bit of Woolies architecture still on the London Road.
Source: Flickr, ballysundriven
26 – 28a St James Street, Brighton, Sussex BN2 1SJ
Woolworths opened their third Brighton store in 1927. The other two were Store 73 (Western Road) and Store 288 (London Road). This store was on St James Street, pictured below. It was on the side of Brighton nearer to the Palace Pier on the beach. In this 1931 photo you can just make out the poster saying “Xmas Cards”.
In the 1950s the store extended to the left, taking over the old Dairy shop. The upper floor had the curtain walling look. In either the 1960s or 70s, the store halved in size and traded from the right side (26 – 28a). We know this because this is the address listed on the 1972 store list.
This Woolworths closed down in June 1986 – another casualty of the Kingfisher takeover. They decided to close branches where there were two in the same town. It probably became Superdrug straightaway as they were part of the same group – and you can see the Woolworths tilings around the windows and entrance. The left side was a Tesco express from around 2012 to 2016.
Very recently, the upper floor was taken down and new apartments were built on top. Tesco moved out, and just this year a new Starbucks opened. There is no trace of it being a Woolworths now, even the mosaic tiles around Superdrug have been updated. Well, perhaps that white door on the right is from Woolworths days – it looks a bit old!
1/2 London Road, Brighton, Sussex
Woolworths opened their second Brighton store on 29th October 1927 at 1-2 London Road, on the corner of Cheapside. This branch was nearer to the two railway stations, whereas Store 73 was closer to the seafront.
On 8th June 1934, the store was extended, it looks like into the roof, and possibly to the rear.
Source: Brighton and Hove City Council
In 1965 Woolworths left the premises at 1-2 London Road. Sainsbury’s, who were next door at No.3, took it over to become a larger self-service supermarket at 1-4. What I find interesting it that with all the alterations, they kept the 3 little roof windows in the style of the original Woolworths store. They traded here until 28th February 2007.
Source: Pipes, Alan (Fred)
More recently Aldi started trading from here, from 19th March 2009.
Source: Pipes, Alan (Fred)
27/31 London Road, Brighton, Sussex BN1 4LE
In 1965 Woolworths relocated up the road to 27-31, a larger Art Deco building (a former department store called Roslings) with 3 floors.
Brighton Roslings, London Road 1960
From the below photo it looks as though Woolworths bought the shop next door as well as Roslings, and then recreated the Art Deco front on the other side.
Source: Historic England
Woolworths traded at 27 -31 from 28th May 1965. In the basement they sold haberdashery, paint, gardening, household, DIY and toys. The ground floor sold food, soap powder, confectionery, records, butchery and deli produce and there was a long tea bar at the back of the store. Upstairs was the staff canteen with separate seating area for men and women. Some workers say there was a lady ghost wearing the uniform of Roslings. (Source: Clarkson, Paul – Working at Woolworths in the 1970s)
The store was re-modernised in the 1980s, and then there was an arson fire in the basement in 1987 – so they had to close temporarily. The basement was never reopened, with the stairs covered up with a large display.
Source: Mould, Tony
Woolworths London Road closed on 30th December 2008. 99p Stores took over the premises and opened nearly a year later on 19th November 2009.
Since then, the 99p stores were bought by Poundland. The building is now occupied by Puregym upstairs and Poundland/Pep & Co. But look up and you can see the Woolworths architecture, if a bit grubby.
1-7 Wellington Place, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1NY
In July 1926, Woolworths bought the block of 2-6 Wellington Place and 15-20 Pelham. The buildings were demolished (according to the Hastings Chronicle) to build the Woolworths store which opened in 1927. It was an interesting looking building, with four storeys including a roof level with four windows. There were two circular windows on the third floor.
Source: Hastings & St Leonards Forum
Source: Pollard R.
In the 1960s there was a makeover, with this rather retro blue tiled look. This is a side entrance view. I do like the look of the steps up to the door, very stylish. Former employee Mike Edwards started his Woolworths adventure, as he calls it, in 1963.
Source: Esdaile A.
This is a view of the main entrance.
Source: Popkin, A
This photo was taken when the underground walkway was being built in 1988.
Source: gandalfthegrey, Flickr
This is a 1990s photo where you can see the Woolworths fascia has been updated.
Source: Goldsteinleigh Investments
You may remember the offers seen in the window in 2004 – 3 for 2 mix & match all stationery & all schoolwear, half price boys, girls and babies coats, summer clearance and half price Quality Street. Also note the broken door patched up with MDF.
Source: JJ justin, Flickr
The fascia was updated one last time to red with white text, before closing for good on 2nd January 2009.
Source: Snapper Jude, Flickr
It soon became a Sports Direct – here’s a photo we took a few years ago whilst on holiday in Hastings. It’s a large, prominent store – you can’t miss it. They have painted the blue tiles grey, but apart from that is looks exactly as it did as a Woolworths. And even the 4 little roof windows are recognisable from the earlier 1950s photo – a real piece of history.
45- 47 West Street, Horsham, Sussex RH12 1PS
Woolworths opened in Horsham at the start of 1927. It was located on West Street and quickly became established as one of the most successful stores in the Sussex, being repeatedly extended. The below photo shows the store in 1960 after a makeover. At this stage they stocked a large range of delicatessen and groceries, and the best of the Woolworths range. I can’t quite make out what the poster by the doors say, but it looks like there are deckchairs just inside the entrance.
Source: Francis Frith
Nigel Cawston started his career at Horsham Woolworths in 1975. He remembers “we then had a fruit/veg and cheese counter. Ernie in the stockroom always insisted the unpacking bench was clear and then polished it before going home. The Saturday lads were often in yard cleaning managers’ cars.”
Here is a memory of Horsham Woolworths I found online, also from 1975:
“Woolworths loomed large in my childhood. It was rare for my Dad to walk past without popping in for a bag of pick n mix, their devon toffees being a particular favourite. It was also the source of my first transistor radio and therefore of much of my early musical education. And of course it had a record department.
The thing that distinguished Woolworths was that, unlike “real” record shops, in addition to the chart singles and racks full of proper albums, they also had carousels displaying the wares of budget labels such as Music For Pleasure & Hallmark. These were mostly light classical works or those cheaply recorded Top Of The Pops collections of cover versions of hits of the day.
Later on however they did manage to license some rock and pop titles for cheap reissue including, unbelievable as it may now seem, a few Beatles titles. Indeed the last time the Live At The Hollywood Bowl album, a UK number 1 in 1977, was seen for sale legally in the UK was as a cheap Music For Pleasure reissue in the early 80s (not that there is very much pleasure to be had from its scream filled grooves).
Early purchases from Woolworths for me included George Harrison’s Dark Horse album (bespoke Apple labels featuring George & Olivia Harrison’s eyes respectively peering out from the label through a light blue wash). Later on however I could not resist picking up one of those budget compilations. It was called All The Way From Memphis and was a collection of hits and album tracks from the CBS years of the career of Mott The Hoople. I already had every track on the album but I was a Mott obsessive and for some reason I just had to have it (Dark blue Hallmark label with silver logo and typeface. Never has the marriage of music and label design seemed so incongruous!”
Source: Alan Standing
Source: Francis Frith
Horsham Woolworths closed in 1984, when Kingfisher took over and sold loads of stores.
Today the building still exists and it houses Bonmarche and Card Factory.
97-101 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, Sussex
In the 1920s, Woolworth’s headquarters in London would receive nomination letters every day, suggesting a town where the chain should open. One of those towns was Eastbourne, for which the architects created a rather grand design. The store opened in 1924 on Terminus Road.
This photo was taken in the 1950s – we can tell by the number plate on the bus. In 1955, a second Woolworths store opened in Eastbourne in the old Regal Cinema building at 143 Seaside (Store 849) – I’ll cover that store in a separate blog post.
Source: Godfrey G., Flickr
According to locals on The History of Eastbourne Facebook page, the back doors opened up on to Tideswell Road. There used to be an alley that ran along the left side of the store to this road. In 1980, the Arndale Shopping centre was built behind the shops on Terminus Road, and the back of the Woolworths store was knocked through to the new shopping centre.
Eastbourne Woolworths is not on the 2008 store list, so it closed before the company went into administration.
Today the building is occupied by Poundland at 97-99, and Thomas Cook is at 101.
Source: Fawcett Mead
33 -35 – Montague Street, Worthing, Sussex
Woolworths first opened in Rowlands Road in Worthing on 28th August 1920.
In 1930 the store was extended and a horizontal moderne Art Deco frontage was created. This was a style favoured for seaside towns such as Brighton, Bournemouth and Bexhill. Woolworths traded here for nearly 80 years, until the chain’s closure in 2008.
Source: Kidd. R
Today the Art Deco frontage still exists. If you are ever shopping in Worthing, take a look above H&M or the bookshop next door.
181-185 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2BG
One of the very early Woolworths stores, the Brighton branch opened in Western Road on 5th August 1916. It was joined by two further Brighton stores in London Road and St James Street in 1927.
In 1968 the store was modernised and reduced in size, with the right side being sold to Clinton Cards. Below is the store in 2004, a year when Geri Halliwell visited one November evening to meet hundreds of fans, many of whom had been queuing since lunchtime.
This store became a 10/10 new format store in the 2000s, before closing for good on 30 December 2008.
The building didn’t stay empty for long, in April 2009 H&M announced they would be moving in.
Here it is from when we did a seaside trip in September 2014. Clinton Cards closed down in 2012, so H&M extended over their site, and the building is whole again just like the original Woolworths store in 1916 🙂
6 Grand Parade, High Street, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1BU
Woolworths opened on the High Street in Crawley on 26th July 1940. It was the last store in the chain to open for another 6 years, due to World War 2. Below you can see it’s the building with the awning and a car parked in front of it. The Woolworth architects had designed an upper balcony and a small turret on the roof.
Source: Grandma P’s Ramblings
This store closed in 1957 when they moved to the ‘new town’. The building was subsequently occupied by a Halifax branch, and today it is a Wetherspoons pub – The Jubilee Oak. The building has not changed at all.
17-19 Queens Square, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1EA
In the 1950s, Crawley was designated as a ‘new town’ by the government due to it’s rapidly expanding population. Woolworths moved from it’s small High St store to Queens Square where it opened as the largest self-service store of the 1950s.
Here is an extract from the Woolworths Museum:
“In 1957 Woolworth bosses went a step further, opening a much larger self-service store in Crawley New Town. A small store in the High Street was replaced by a much larger branch in nearby Queen’s Square. Executives hoped that a halo effect from the marketing of the new town, which portrayed it as ultra-modern, would help to break down customer resistance to the new format. The store layout included a number of new display ideas, with fully redesigned fixtures and fittings. For the first time gondola islands were used, with shelving from top to bottom, without understocks cupboards at the base. This style of shelving remains the standard for most retailers in the twenty-first century. At the time it was a first and proved quite controversial. Some customers complained that they had to stoop to pick up items on the bottom two shelves, while company bosses worried that the stock cost to fill the Crawley store was almost double the level of a comparable personal-service store. Despite the reservations of some older customers, the overall feedback from the Crawley shoppers was positive. Most liked the layout and thought the store was very up-to-date.”
Now here’s something random. You can buy a 252 piece jigsaw puzzle of the Crawley Woolworths 1950s store front from Amazon here. Shipped from America. Weird!
Here you can see it in 1971, looking a bit shabby after 14 years.
Source: Flickr, JR James Archive
Another random fact, Chico did an instore signing of his single D.I.S.C.O in Crawley Woolworths in August 2006.
Here is the store in 2008, before it closed later that year.
Today the building is occupied by Poundland. It was planned to demolish the building in 2013 as part of the Queens Square regeneration, but it is staying put and the actual square is being renovated now.
Source: Flickr, Ballysundriven
10/11 Kings Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex TN37 6EA
There once was a Woolworths store at St Leonards-on-Sea, down the road from Hastings. It opened in the 1950s on Kings Road, quite close to St Leonards Warrior Square train station. It is on the right of the below photo – the building with the narrow arched windows.
Source: deslan, Flickr
I don’t know when it closed, but it wasn’t on the 2008 store list. Today the building is occupied by Kings Road Bazaar – quite appropriate as you could say Woolworths was sort of a bazaar of its own.
Source: Local Data Search
49/51 Church Road, Burgess Hill, Sussex RH15 9BH
Woolworths arrived in Burgess Hill in September 1955 on Church Road (now Church Walk).
Source: Francis Frith
It was one of the later branches to be opened, as you can tell from the store number, and it looks as though it was medium sized from the photo above. I spoke to Burgess Hill local Robert who remembers the store from his childhood, in particular the pic n mix!
The store didn’t last long though, closing just under 30 years later on 15th September 1984. Perhap it was one of the low performing stores, or it was one of the casualties of the Kingfisher takeover when they closed several stores down to gain capital.
The building was later split into two and occupied by Sussex Stationers and Currys. In 2012 they had both closed down.
Source: Burgess Hill Uncovered
In April 2012, a Wetherspoon pub opened here, after a £1.4 million makeover. During the makeover, the ghost of Woolworths past was revealed!
Source: Burgess Hill Uncovered
The pub is called The Six Gold Martlets – here it is, alongside the shiny new Subway, from when I visited Burgess Hill last weekend. I knew it was a Woolworths 😛