19 Middle Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1LF
Woolworths opened on Middle Street in Yeovil, opposite the George Inn, in November 1925. Middle Street was the main road from London to the West Country then, so it was a very busy area.
The store was extended in 1931, and then it looks as though it had a 1950s makeover from the look of the frontage in the below photo. Here’s an extract from ‘Yeovil in the 1960s‘, with Middle Street described by Roger Froude who was a teenager then, “of course FW Woolworth’s – still stuck in the 1950s with its wooden floorboards and the aroma of hot fresh roasted peanuts.” – so funny how Woolworths was never up-to-date!
Source: Osborn B, Flickr
The photo is from around 1965. You have to read the caption that accompanied it,
“I think we all mourn the passing of Woolies – but the interesting thing about this photo is the ‘footprint’ of the George Inn on the pavement.
So, the George was demolished to widen the road but some twat at the Council forgot to realise that they didn’t own the land (not much of a surprise there then) so the road couldn’t be widened after all. In any event within ten years the road was pedestrianised, so this wonderful 14th century building was, pretty much, wantonly destroyed for nothing.”
Here is a photo of the George, shame it was demolished. The 60s really was a decade of architectural crimes! This is where the 99p store stood recently – I guess it’s now Poundland. It was Primark for many years, but you’ll see where they moved to if you read on.
Source: Osborn B, Flickr
Back to Woolworths, and the store was modernised in 1973. Then in 1985, it was chosen to be one of the first prototype Woolworths Weekend comparison stores, including a Tea Bar restaurant. Penny White was the assistant manager at that time. She says it was the first to get the red walkway and the lighting was really expensive! They had a lovely team of people who made being away from home much nicer.
Moving on two decades and in the 2000s, it became one of the 10/10 trial stores. You can see it on the right of this 2007 photo, it looks as though there was a really strange red and yellow fascia. Opposite the Woolworths, you can see Primark on the left of the photo, on the site of the old George Inn – it too having a strange logo.
Source: The A-Z of Yeovil’s History
This photo was taken shortly before the store closed for good in December 2008.
Source: Smith S
The building lay empty for over 18 months, when it was announced that Primark would be moving from across the road to open a bigger contemporary store. The new Primark opened in 2011, with the 99p Store occupying the old Primark building opposite. It is still quite recognisable as a Woolies building.
Source: The A-Z of Yeovil’s History
163/165 High Road, Balham, London SW12 9BG
Woolworths opened on Balham High Road in 1928. It took over the premises 2 doors down from Barclays Bank, which you can see in the below 1915 postcard.
Source: Wandsworth Heritage Service
It was a very successful store, winning a regional window-dressing contest in the 1930s. Woolworths used to sell individual feathers for 3p each, as accessories for hats and gowns. The window dresser created a bird out of these feathers for the winning display:
Source: Woolworths Museum
In 1940 during WW2, a bomb hit Balham High Road in front of the Woolworths store, hitting the Northern Line Tube Station platform below. A bus crashed into the crater. Here is a photo of the bus being lifted out – behind the bus would have been where the Woolworth store was.
Source: Feeling My Age
Below is a great photo from 1974, showing Woolworths with it’s 70s fascia. This shopping parade is quite unique as it appears to have houses above each store to the rear.
In 2000, the store was one of the first to be converted to a Woolworths General Store, which offered a pharmacy, health & beauty products, general merchandise and convenience food. Balham was a pilot, renumbered to store 2002, with a Superdrug pharmacy moved instore. The General Store format didn’t do well, and it went back to a normal Woolworths store some years later.
A more recent photo, this is shortly before Woolworths closed on 5th January 2009, window displays not looking as great as they did in the 1930s.
Source: hugovk, Flickr
That same year, a 99p store opened in it’s place. Here is a photo I took this month, with it’s new updated fascia (I don’t like it) and Barclays Bank still alive and thriving.
63 Victoria Street, Paignton, Devon TQ4 5ED
On 22nd July 1932, Woolworths opened in Paignton, ‘the family resort of picturesque Torbay’ as the town is described on vintage railway posters. This was 12 years after the neighbouring Torquay branch opened. Paignton Woolies opened on the former Dellers Hotel site next to the level crossing at Paignton Station, with the Gerston Hotel on its right.
After 30 years, the store had a makeover in 1966 to make it a huge superstore, featuring a cafe and deli upstairs complete with barstools and a big drinks machine!
Below is the store in 1977 (in the background), looking the same as the 1966 photo but in colour.
Here is the store in 1998, with the more familiar Woolworths frontage.
Here is the store just before it closed on 30th December 2008. It left a big hole in Paignton, with the building laying empty for nearly a year.
Then on Saturday 12th December 2009, the 99p store had a grand opening – the Paignton 99p Store was the 123rd UK 99p Store and the 52nd ex-Woolworths store to be re-opened by the company. That’s a lot of 99p stores.(Source: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk) The upstairs became a Sports Direct. I read on a forum how some locals were disappointed that they got a 99p store whereas neighbouring Torquay got an H&M in their ex-Woolies building!
Now when we went to Paignton last week, the building was under scaffolding! Still I took the above photo to replicate the one from 1977 so you can see the before and after. Below is what it looks like under the scaffolding.