Category Archives: West Midlands

Bearwood (Smethwick) – Store 373

584-586 Bearwood Road, Smethwick, Warley, West Midlands B66 4BW

Woolworths opened their second store in Smethwick in 1929, just a mile away from Store 170 on Cape Hill. It was a small store on Bearwood Road, that opened in an existing parade of shops. The upper floor architecture of all the shops along the left side of the road is identical. Woolworths is in the centre left of this photograph.

Bearwood Woolworths 1950s

Bearwood Woolworths 1950s

Source: Pinterest

Note the peppermint blue door frames. The window poster in the summer of 2008 advertises a price drop of an inflatable pool to £39.99.

Bearwood Woolworths 2008

Bearwood Woolworths 2008

The store lasted until the end, closing in December 2008.

Bearwood Woolworths 2008

Bearwood Woolworths 2008

Source: Flickr

It became a Tesco Express, which closed down in 2015.

Bearwood Former Woolworths

Bearwood Former Woolworths

Then it became The Original Factory Shop, but they also closed down and today the unit is vacant.

Bearwood Former Woolworths

Bearwood Former Woolworths

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Birmingham New Street – Store 266

103/104 New Street, Birmingham B2 4HG

Woolworths opened its second Birmingham store, after the Bull Ring, in New Street in July 1927. They traded from this side of the road for about 20 years, until there was serious bomb damage during WW2.

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1930s-40s

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1930s-40s?

Source: Birmingham City Centre Past Facebook group

In 1956, the site of Birmingham’s Theatre Royal – which was located opposite the original New Street store – was sold to Woolworths. In the 1950s the Board was working with City Councils and development companies to transform inner city stores – in this case, they decided to build a skyscraper called ‘The Woolworth Building’. It was designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow who built it in two parts –  the first in 1958-61 for Woolworths, the second part for Jack Cotton & Partners. According to the Birmingham Pevsner Architectural Guide, it was “New Street’s architectural disaster… a shapeless mass of Portland Stone, mosaic cladding and green slate stepping up to ten storeys.” – a bit harsh 😛

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1960s

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1960s

The above photo shows the ‘skyscraper’, which opened for business in 1961. The offices upstairs generated a substantial rental income for the company.

Below is a side angle of the store from the 1970s. Sadly when Kingfisher took over, they closed this store in 1983 along with the Bullring store. So for a while there were no Woolworths in Birmingham City Centre, until the 1990s when a store opened in the Pallasades Shopping Centre.

Birmingham New Street Woolworth

Birmingham New Street Woolworths 1970s

Source: Warrick, Mark

Today the building is named “Charters Building”. The building on it’s left is the surviving ‘Piccadilly Arcade’ section of the Theatre Royal. In the 1990s, there was a refurbishment of the offices, and the glass lift was added. The retail unit has been split into six and are occupied by Superdrug, Bella Italia, Boots, The Coventry Bank, Wagamama and a vacant unit. So if you’re ever having dinner at Bella Italia or Wagamama in Birmingham, just remember you are sitting in a quite historic ex-Woolworths!

Birmingham New Street 2014

Sources:
100thbirthday.co.uk
woolworthmuseum.co.uk 

Wolverhampton (Dudley Street) – Store 186

40/41 Dudley Street, Wolverhampton, Staffs WV1 3ES

This store was the second Woolworths in Wolverhampton, opening on 23rd May 1925 (The first Woolworths was in Victoria Street, Store 13, which opened in June 1912).

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1920s-30s

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1920s-30s

Source: Black Country History

The store was extended in 1927 and then in 1930. See below on the far right, next to James Baker & Sons.

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1940s-50s

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1940s-50s

Source: Black Country History

In the 1960s it was part of a major town centre redevelopment scheme, with the building of the Mander Shopping Centre. A huge Woolworths superstore opened in stages between 1965 and 1968. This was when Wolverhampton store was the biggest Woolworths in the country! It boasted three floors, with the entire basement dedicated to fresh food, including a fresh fish counter. The ground floor had the more conventional Woolworths layout. The top floor was dedicated to furniture and carpets and had a large Harvester Restaurant!

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1968

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1968

Source: 100thbirthday.co.uk

There were also 3 stockroom floors, as confirmed by Paul Broome who was a management trainee here from 1983 to 1984.

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1974

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1974

Source: Howe B, Flickr

In 1985 Kingfisher experimented with an Electronic World store, but the withdrawal from food on 16th October 1986 left the store uneconomic. The store was cut down, with the restaurant closed and the upper two floors split off and re-let on 16th August 1988. Below is just before this happened. This floor became Boots.

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1988

Wolverhampton Woolworths 1988

Source: Black Country History

In 1989, Woolworths traded only from their basement floor, following a refurbishment, with their main entrance in the shopping centre and a door into Dudley Street atop a steep flight of steps. See below the small entrance next to the Boots which took over the unit.

Woolworths Dudley Street Entrance, Wolverhampton

Woolworths Dudley Street Entrance, Wolverhampton

In the 2000s, Wolverhampton Woolworths was converted to one of the 10/10 stores.

Wolverhampton Woolworths 2008

Wolverhampton Woolworths 2008

Source: Kidd R

The store closed in December 2008 and the unit remained empty for 4 years! In 2012 DiscountUK Home Store finally opened here:

Wolverhampton DiscountUK 2014

Wolverhampton DiscountUK 2014

Source: Express & Star

But the latest news for the Mander Centre, now that they have new owners, is that 10 discount stores are being ousted, including DiscountUK. Then they are going to turn 39 units into 11 larger units, including one 3-floor Debenhams, as part of a £25 million revamp (see artist’s impression below) – all to make it a better shopping experience for everyone. Wow a new 3-floor Debenhams, like there was a new 3-floor Woolworths in the 60s – history repeating itself!

Wolverhampton Mander Centre Revamp 2017 Estimated Opening

Wolverhampton Mander Centre Revamp – 2017 Estimated Opening

Source: Express & Star

EDIT: I originally wrote this post in 2015, and since the, the Mander Centre redevelopment has finished and it is now open.

Smethwick, Birmingham – Store 170

63 – 65 Cape Hill, Smethwick, Warley, West Midlands B66 4SF

In 1924 Woolworths opened its 170th store in Smethwick, which is a town 4 miles west of Birmingham City Centre. It opened on Cape Hill and it looks like it was a small store from this photo.

Smethwick Cape Hill Woolworths 1980s

Smethwick Cape Hill Woolworths 1980s

The date is closure is unknown, but looking at the above photo, that might possibly be a red ‘Closing Down’ poster in the right window with the date Sat 28 Sept, and on the upper floor could that be a For Sale sign? Closure in the 1980s when Kingfisher took over is more than likely.

Today the building is occupied by TSB Bank.

Smethwick Cape Hill Former Woolworths - TSB

Smethwick Cape Hill Former Woolworths – TSB

Dudley – Store 32

38A High Street, Dudley, West Midlands

On 21st March 1914 Woolworths bought a 25 year lease on a narrow-fronted building at 38A Market Place on Dudley High Street. The store was very successful, famous for its queues, but there was no room for extension.

Dudley Woolworths 1914

Dudley Woolworths 1914

Source: Woolworths Museum

They must have got out of the lease early as they moved along the road to 43 High Street 21 years later, with a grand reopening on 12th April 1935. Though this is numbered 34 on the most recent store list.

Dudley Woolworths 1935

Dudley Woolworths 1935

Source: Woolworths Museum

Below you can see the store on the right of this photo in the 1950s.

Dudley Woolworths 1955

Dudley Woolworths 1955

Source: Express and Star

In 1960 a basement floor was added, fronting King Street, which became a Shoppers World store from 1975 to 1983. This was the Woolworths’ version of Argos.

Shoppers World Dudley 1970s

Shoppers World Dudley 1970s

Source: Woolworths Museum

Inside Shoppers World Dudley 1970s

Inside Shoppers World Dudley 1970s

Source: Woolworths Museum

Dudley Woolworths 2004

Dudley Woolworths 2004

Source: Express and Star

The Dudley store closed in 2008. The building has been converted into a mini mall, so it must have been a huge Woolworths inside if there are now loads of shops inside. The building sadly is looking very sorry for itself and could do with a lick of paint. Nevertheless, if you are shopping in Dudley, do have a look above the Plaza Mall and see a bit of Woolies architecture.

Dudley Former Woolworths | Plaza Mall 2017

Dudley Former Woolworths | Plaza Mall 2017

Source: Butler P.

And as for the back basement floor entrance of Woolworths and the former Shoppers World of King Street – this is now the back of Plaza Mall and a former Rock Zombie bar, which closed due to violence.

Dudley Back of Former Woolworths Shoppers World - now Plaza Mall 2017

Dudley Back of Former Woolworths / Shoppers World – now Plaza Mall 2017

Source: Google Maps


 

The next store – Southend Store 33 – has already been written about here.