29 High St, Rhyl LL18 1EN
On 10th March 1928 Woolworths opened in the seaside town of Rhyl in North Wales. It was on the High Street, a small single-storey store. They extended on 23rd May 1931. Below is a photo of the store in 1953, when there were Coronation celebrations for the Queen. Interesting that the store had a very large Woolworth fascia above the first floor.
Source: Rhyl Life
Woolworths moved from here a few years later. The building still exists today and it is a Shoe Zone Factory Outlet store.
1-4 East Parade, Rhyl, Flintshre LL18 3AD
In 1956, Woolworths built much larger, prominent seafront premises on the site of the Royal Cafe, which they demolished. You couldn’t really miss it – the store was huge, with a modern restaurant. They moved in there on 29th June 1956, becoming the department store destination of Rhyl. (It’s on the far right in the below photo)
On 17th May 1974, the store was modernised and converted to self service.
In 1987 it was refurbished to become a comparison store (without the restaurant), re-opening on 3rd April.
In the 2000s, the store became a 10/10 store, which you can see in the below photo. Although it looks closed in the below photo, Woolworths had in fact covered the windows in blue, presumably so they could put shelving up against the windows inside – but not looking so nice from the outside. It was a smaller store now, as the top floors were now occupied by Gala Bingo.
Source: The Roberts Organisation, Flickr
Today B&M Bargains operates from this premises. But up until 2011 there was still a little something that gave away it’s history…
Source: Alex Liivet, Flickr
If you enjoyed this, I also found the history of Rhyl Marks and Spencer online (now Poundland). Written by Rhyl History Club, it’s quite fascinating – read about it here.
This post was originally written in 2014.
138 Commercial Street, Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan CF34 9DW
Woolworths opened in the Welsh town of Maesteg in 1927. It was on Commercial Street, next to A E Lockyer & Son. This is an early staff photo sent in by Richard Northover. The photo was sent to his late father (who was store manager in the 1960s) by a long retired District Manager called Keith Doel.
Source: Northover R.
He also has a copy of the 1934 Pictorial Record, showing Mr Barclay being the store manager in 1934. In that edition, it says there were 600 stores, of which 2% of the store managers were ladies – Woolworths at the forefront of equality!
Below you can see the front of the store, possibly from the 1960s – I am guessing from the style of the cars. Next door you can see Lockyer’s and in between Woolworths and Lockyer’s was an alleyway leading to a snooker hall.
Below is Richard’s father Mr D. Northover from the 1964 Pictorial Record. He was the store manager of Maesteg from 1961 – 1965, and he was aged 39 in this photo. Richard was a Woolies child, born in 1960, as his mother was also a Woolworths employee. One of his childhood memories is “…this was the store where, once I was tall enough at the age of 4/5, I was taught how to press the buttons on the cardboard bailer in the stockroom. No health and safety concerns then!”
Below is a staff photo from 1968, when the store manager was Terry Williams, who took over from Mr. Northover.
In May 1983 Richard Northover became the store manager of Maesteg, working there until 1986. He says, “The team that worked for my Dad mostly also worked for me albeit 20 years older!”
Former employee Louise Jeffery shared some 90s photos on Facebook page Maesteg Memories and you can read lots of happy memories of the store on that page. What I love about this photo, apart from cool Auntie Pam being Santa, is seeing the products on the shelves, and the SALE point of sale.
Source: Jeffery L.
The store lasted until the end, closing in December 2008.
It became a shop called Richleys Stewarts for a short while, but today it is Peacocks. It is interesting if you compare with the black and white photo above, there used to be little half-windows just above the fascia. Next time you are shopping in Maesteg Peacocks, now you will know you are in a former Woolworths!
8 – 10 Vaughan Street, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA15 3UD
Woolworths opened in Llanelli, Wales, in 1927. It looks as though it was originally at 8 – 12 Vaughan Street and then cut down in size. The right side was sold and Dorothy Perkins occupied the space. The Woolworths store lasted until the end, closing in December 2008.
Source: Williams H.
The unit was taken over by Poundworld who opened a Discount UK store, and then later they changed it to Bargain Buys. Dorothy Perkins became Store Twenty One. Now both companies are also bust so the whole unit from 8 – 12 is vacant again.
32 Bethcar Street, Ebbw Vale, Mon. NP3 6XX
Woolworths opened in Ebbw Vale in South Wales in 1927. This is going to be a short post as I don’t have much information on the store. The building looks 1950s in style, so it would have look different in the earlier decades. The store lasted until the end and closed on 30th December 2008.
The store lay empty for a while, before becoming a B&M store.
But they since left these premises, presumably because there is a large B&M Home store in the town which opened in 2016. Today the building is vacant again, and it looks unchanged from its Woolworths days on Google Street View, even through to the front doors, windows and pillars.
113 – 117 Mostyn Street, Llandudno, Caernarvonshire
Woolworths opened in the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno in 1927. It was on Mostyn Street, which is a street that has a Victorian look to it, with all the shops having rigid verandas and cast iron supports. Woolworths can be seen in the centre of this 1970s photograph. It looks quite a large store.
It is actually a Grade II listed building, described as follows: “Three storey building with red-brick front elevation of eight windows grouped 4-3-1; painted dressings. Classical detailing. Asymmetrical front. Parapet and cornice. Three windows are grouped under a shallow pediment, and flanked by pilasters. Four windows to L, and one to R. Cast-iron veranda of late C19 to early C20 date; five bays with very slender iron columns with capitals and with cresting at the soffit extending for the width of the bay between each column.”
This is a more recent photo from 2008 where you can see a close-up of the veranda. So it had quite a different look from the other Woolworths stores in the country.
Since this Woolworths closed in December 2008, the building has been occupied by quite a few businesses. First Publishers Book Clearance, then Alworths, then it was going to be a Poundstretcher but that fell through, and since 2012 it has been a Sainsburys Local.
7 – 8 High Street, Abergavenny, Gwent NP7 5RU
Woolworths opened their 250th store in Abergavenny, Wales in 1927. It opened at number 7 High Street on the site of a former tailor, outfitter, hatter, hosier and shoe shop called William Henry Butt. But many years beforehand, the graveyard of St John’s Church crossed this site, and when Woolworths built their first store here, they found a stone coffin.
In the 1960s there was another redevelopment to extend the store to number 8. When these works were going on, the archway of the cemetery gateway was exposed. The new store looked like a typical 1960s rectangular store.
The store lasted until the end, and closed in December 2008.
In 2009 B&M moved in. They have kept the front as it was when it was Woolworths, but closed the doors on the right permanently to put a trolley park in front of it.
Information is from the Abergavenny Street Survey
5 – 9 Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, Mid Glam CF8 1XB
Woolworths opened in Caerphilly, Wales, in 1926. This is a staff photo in front of the store from the early days.
Source: Caerphilly History Photos
Woolworths was next to Boots the Chemist, and it had Cardiff’s premier dance hall – The Palais de Dance – above it.
In 1984, Caerphilly Woolworths was one of 18 stores to get a facelift to reflect the company’s new commercial strategy. Woolworth became Woolworths with an ‘s’. There was a ‘shop within a shop’ arrangement with diffused flourescent lights and slatted departmental signage. (Source: Woolworth’s 100 years on the High Street – K. Morrison)
The store closed after 1995, as it is on the ’95 store list but not on the 2008 list. Today the street is looking very run down and unloved. The old Woolworths store is a discount store – you can still see the Woolworths mosaic tiles.
155-156 Commercial Street, Newport NP20 1UE
Woolworths opened their 185th store in Newport, Wales, in 1925. It originally opened at number 155 to 156 Commercial Street. You can see it below in the centre, there is a long fascia that says F.W. Woolworths & Co Ltd, but there is also a unit to the right that says just ‘Woolworth’ – an extension testing out the use of this name without the ‘F.W’ perhaps.
Source: Getty Images
147/148 Commercial Street, Newport NPT 1UU
In 1960 Woolworths moved along the street to make an even bigger store. They took over the site of The Talbot Hotel and the old Empire Theatre, to make the largest and most modern Woolworths store in Wales at the time.
Source: Historic England
Here is a memory from a former employee “This store had a food hall there. In my college holidays I used to work on the checkout. We had to know all the prices. We were not allowed to sit down so we finished our shifts with aching feet and backs. We all looked forward to the supervisor letting us shelf-stack to give us a spot of exercise.”(Extract from South Wales Argus).
Barbara Morse remembers “there used to be a man outside with a monkey and you could have your picture taken with him.” I think this was a normal thing in the old days, as I have read about this in other towns too.
Less than 30 years later, the store closed down in February 1989, not long after a new smaller Woolworths was opened in the Kingsway Shopping Centre.
Today you will see no sign of either of the Woolworths buildings. The first store at numbers 155 -156 is now Boots, in a building that looks quite 70s. This photo is from the same angle as the 1950s photos – Poundland is the Lilley and Skinner shop, the shop under scaffolding is Bevans and Boots in the distance is Woolworths.
The store at numbers 147 – 148 was demolished soon after it closed down and a new building was erected with three shop units – this is what it looks like:
26 – 30 Church Street, Aberavon, Port Talbot, Glam SA12 6DF
Woolworths opened in the Welsh town of Aberavon, also known as Aberafan, also known as Port Talbot, in 1925. This town is located in Swansea Bay. I found a very small photo of the original Woolworths store on Pinterest.
In the 1960s over 200 houses and 3 chapels were demolished to make way for the M4. I read an article of what it was like to live in this town during the building of this motorway and it sounds horrendous. I know this isn’t really related to Woolworths, but I can’t get over how the town looked with the new ‘road in the sky’.
Source: Wales Online
Between 1971 to 1976 most of old Aberavon in the upper Water Street and High Street area was also demolished to built a mall called the Aberafan Shopping Centre. So the original Woolworths building does not exist anymore.
Unit A1, South Mall, Aberafan Centre, Port Talbot, West Glam SA13 1LQ
Woolworths opened inside the shopping centre in the 1970s, where it traded all the way to the end in December 2008. Former employee Tom Lean worked here in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and he remembers the people being nice to work with. He says it was a fairly typical medium sized store, with stockrooms above and off to one side. When he was a kid in the 1980s it used to be a bit bigger than it was by the end, but they chopped a corner of it off to make a Superdrug.
Source: Jenkins L.
Today Home Bargains is in the old Woolworths unit. You can see Superdrug to the right of the photo, so you can imagine the Woolworths was quite a large store when it first opened inside the shopping centre.
5 – 6 High Street, Bargoed, Glam CF8 8YJ
Woolworths opened in the Welsh town of Bargoed in 1923. The High Street is on a hill, so although from the front it looks as though it was a single storey store, it did in fact have two lower floors, and there is an upper floor peeking behind the frontage. I’m guessing this was a 1950s/60s building from the rectangular look.
The store closed when the chain went bust in December 2008. The building lay empty for a few years, and then in 2011 The Original Factory Shop moved into the upper floor. The lower floors were converted into council offices.
Sadly it has recently been announced this July 2018 that The Original Factory Store would be closing many of their branches due to poor trading, so this building will be empty again.
48 Tylacelyn Road, Penygraig, Rhondda, Glam.
Woolworths opened in the Welsh village of Penygraig (or Pen-Y-Graig) in 1923. It does look like Pen-Y-Craig with a C on the 1972 store list, but Tylacelyn Road is actually in Penygraig.
There’s not any information on the store on the internet, and no closing date either. We know today that the address is for the Co-op store, which from this photo we can guess that is was a small Woolworths village store.
If you lived in South Wales, do you or any of your family members remember the Woolworths in Pen-Y-Graig? Please do share any memories/photos.
44 – 45 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil, Glam.
The 140th Woolworths store opened in Wales in 1923, in a town called Merthyr Tydfil.
Source: Francis Frith
In the 1970s the store had a makeover, with this recognisable style. The makeover probably coincided with the conversion to self-service.
Source: Alan George
The store closed in December 2008.
It became a B&M Bargains, but they then moved to a retail park – so this building is sadly empty again.
242-246 Oxford Street, Swansea, West Glamorgan SA1 3BA
Woolworths must have done well in Swansea, as 11 years after opening their first store on the high street (Store 14), a second store was opened on nearby Oxford Street in 1923.
I actually can’t find any information at all about this particular store, or how it looked between 1923 and 2008. But the style of this building does look 1960s/70s. Today Poundland is at this location.
If you have any old photos of the Swansea Oxford Street store that you don’t mind sharing, do let me know in the comments.
Crown Buildings, George Street, Gwent NP4 6YP
We are back in Wales with the 130th Woolworths store, that opened in Pontypool in 1923.
This photo shows the store in 1937, with a number of its staff outside celebrating the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The staff look so proud and happy, almost like cheerleaders.
The building does not look purpose-built, and the store was next door to the shoe shop Stead & Simpson.
Source: Pontypool Museum
Source: Pontypool Museum
“The staff of Woolworth Pontypool in Wales show off their spectacular display of dolls, nursery teaware and Easter Bunnies in 1951” Woolworths Museum
At some point the store was extended into the Stead & Simpson unit.
And today it is Iceland.
32 – 34 Adare Street, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan CF31 1EL
The 120th Woolworths store opened in Bridgend in Wales in 1922. Below is a photo from the 1930s with “the frontage of the building emblazoned with signs advertising H. Woodward’s paper showrooms. Woolworths window dressers often used rows of baubles as pelmets to enhance festive displays at Christmas time.” (Extract from Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street – K Morrison).
Source: Historic England
“I had a Saturday job in Woolworths in Bridgend, Mid-Glamorgan (as it was then). I remember we had to be 15 years and 3 months old before we could be considered for a job. Our pay for the Saturday was 19 shillings and 3 pence, but the 3 pence was deducted for the insurance stamp. I worked on various counters, biscuits, toys and even on the side counters of the store which contained groceries. The manager came up to my counter one day and said ‘I want you’. Oh no, now what have I done!! ‘Yes, sir?’ ‘Have you tried your GCE Maths exam yet?’ ‘Yes, sir, our class did the maths exam a year earlier than usual.’ ‘Did you pass it?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Then would you be interested in working in the office? ‘Yes, sir. Thank you sir.’ My job in the office was to count the cash and balance it with the individual tills in the store. I used to go around emptying the tills and then taking the money back to the office and making sure the tills and money balanced. On a couple of occasions I had to go to a till and count the money there and then: e.g. if a customer said they had given the assistant a £10 note but the assistant thought it was a £5 note then the money was checked to see if an error had been made. 19 shillings seemed quite a lot then but would be 95p in todays money. I do miss those days!” Memory from a former Saturday staff member (source: gransnet.com)
There was an extension into the neighbouring store at some point.
How lovely the store looks in colour.
Source: Lobb M.
Today Poundland is in the building. Although this isn’t Woolworths architecture, if you are ever in Bridgend, do take a moment to admire this building.
135 Holton Road, Barry, Glamorgan CF6 6TS
Woolworths opened in the South Wales seaside town of Barry in 1921.
In 1969, a new store was built. I am unsure of whether the original building was demolished, or if they moved to number 135 Holton Road. It looks as thought it was a street redevelopment as the neighbouring stores also have the white curved rain shelter.
The store closed in December 2008 and is now Poundland.
277 – 279 High Street, Bangor, North Wales
Back in Wales, Store 105 opened in Bangor at 297 High Street in 1921 (a building that is now Cool Trader). In 1939 they moved to a purpose-built Art Deco building at numbers 277 – 279. The basement of the building was earmarked as an air raid shelter in WWII which was thankfully never tested (Source: Bangor Civic Society). You can see the store in the distance in this 1960s photo.
And here on the right.
The store traded from this location for nearly 80 years, but not quite, closing in December 2008.
Today it is Boots, but look up and you’ll see the lovely Art Deco detail.
Park Buildings, Taff Street, Pontypridd, Glam
Woolworths opened in Pontypridd, Wales, in 1921. The site was called ‘Park Buildings’ on Taff Street, and they traded here all the way to the end in December 2008. Here are some photos over the years.
Source: Beilby D
Source: Cornfoot R
Today B&M Bargains traded from this site, the building looking the same. You can still see the Woolworths tiles.
50-54 Queen Street, Cardiff CF1 1WU
Following success at Swansea – Store 14, Woolworths were keen to open in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. And this was the 25th Woolworths store in the UK, which opened in 1913. It was so successful, that they extended the store and had a grand reopening just a year later in 1914.
Source: Woolworths Museum
The upper floors were occupied by Luciana billiard halls. Quite a few Woolworths stores had billiard halls above, though it wasn’t a deliberate policy – unlike Burtons who did it to keep young men out of pubs, and hopefully be potential customers.
Source: Woolworths Museum
Source: Wales Online
The store was rebuilt and extended, reopening on 20th Jul 1960. The shopfront boasted a continuous row of eight doorways, interrupted by two structural piers, with small end display windows (Woolworths 100 years on the high street – Morrison K.)
Source: Wales Online
Source: Wales Online
In 1982, the fascia was replaced with a Duraform one (reinforced plastic sheeting) in ‘Woolworths Red’ with a matt finish. The lettering was the new italicised san serif letter, accompanied by the looping ‘W” known as the Winfield logo.
The store had been hugely extended – here you can see an image of the interior, the upper floor for the cafe, with the curved banister, looking down on the sales floor.
Source: Wales Online
But just two years later, the store closed in 1984 as part of the 1980s Kingfisher sell-offs. The building was taken over by BHS who moved from their old premises. You can see they covered the windows of the first floor.
Source: Soult’s Retail View
You might think BHS left Cardiff when the chain recently went bust, but they actually closed in January 2013 to find a smaller site. in 2014 Primark moved in and rebuilt the front facade to fit in with the surrounding Victorian architecture. I think it looks beautiful, really reminicent of the early Woolworths store.
Source: Wales Online