19/23 Palmerston Road, Southsea, Hants PO5 3QA
The 50th Woolworths store to open in the UK was in the seaside town of Southsea (after the neighbouring Portsmouth branch opened a year earlier), opening on 26th June 1915 at Palmerston Road. Below is the road in 1925, one of these shops was the Woolworths.
Source: Past and Present Publications
As sales were good, the building was extended in March 1932. Unfortunately this was one of the 26 stores that got destroyed in World War 2, on 11th January 1941.
After the war, Palmerston Road was redesigned, and Woolworths moved to a new location at numbers 19-23, opening on 10th October 1951 with a newly designed store. The new building was more accessible, with wider step-free entrances, and was significantly larger and brighter.
From this photo you can see they even put a ‘Woolworth’ fascia above each set of doors.
Source: Baker, Richard
Southsea Woolworths was one of the last stores to convert to self-service in 1973, I presume it being a laid-back seaside town, they took their time 😉 In 1988 the building was split in half, with 22-23 given to Superdrug. Then the store was was modernised again in August 1992.
Source: Baldock, James (used with permission)
Southsea Woolworths closed on 2nd January 2009, looking pretty much as it did in 2004 in the photo above. It lay empty for over 2 years.
Then, making a change from the norm, the council decided to open a library at this site. Southsea Library opened on 29th July 2011, complete with a cafe serving coffees and cakes “and in honour of Woolworths’ memory, a themed pick and mix box for children.” (Source: Portsmouth Lib Dems)
What’s nice to see is that above the library and Superdrug, the building appears exactly as how it looked in 1951. If you ever visit Southsea, do have a look.
Source: Custodian Reit plc
190 High Street, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1JS
This store was one of the early ones, opened in the 20s. Below is a picture I found in Slough library from the 1930s (Source: The Changing Face of Slough) – Woolworths is on the far left, and the Eagle pub is now River Island. Boots is on the far right, still there today.
Here is the store 20 years later, you can see in the background with the canopies. This was when the first EVER zebra crossing in the UK was opened in 1951 – on Slough High Street! It’s now just the pavement in between Boots and the Queensmere Shopping Centre. They should put a commemorative plaque here or something.
Source: The 1951 Club
Here is a postcard I found on Ebay – Woolworths is on the left. It appears they did a store makeover in the 1960s and changed the front facade.
Below is the High Street store in 1982 “with notice in the window announcing that the store would be closing in February for two weeks for alterations”
Now my mum and I were in Slough in July 1983 the day before she gave birth to my brother. I said to her, ‘Wow so do you remember Woolworths when it was in the High Street then?’ – She says to me ‘Yes it was outside’
8, The Observatory, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1LE
Woolworths left the High Street site in 1984, and then opened in the Observatory on 14th June 1991 (where Primark is now). Below is a photo of the store being opened by retail director Martin Toogood and store manager Ken Webstar. According to the Woolworths Museum website, “…several Shopping Centres, like Slough’s Observatory Centre, offered ‘anchor’ sites in new developments at heavily discounted, capped rents. These stores opened long before the neighbouring properties were occupied, and helped to persuade others to take on tenancies.”
Source: Woolworths Museum
106/109 Queensmere, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1DQ
In 2000, the store moved to the Queensmere Shopping Centre, taking over the C&A site when they closed down. It was quite a large store with an upstairs floor too. Here is a photo I took when it was closing down in December 2008, with it’s last day of trading being 2nd January 2009.
Today it is B&M Bargains, downstairs floor only, a cluttered store selling a mis-match of home goods, furniture, food and toys – remind you of anywhere? 😉