118-122 High Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 1BY
The nineteenth Woolworths opened in Ilford in 1912, in a prime location next to the town hall. There are no photos of it when it first opened.
In 1938, the store was updated to have a simple Art Deco look. You can see it in the below photo – the large white building at the back.
Source: Francis Frith
Here is a close-up photo from the 1970s.
Source: Ilford in Pictures FB group
The store closed 29th January 1983, along with four other Woolworths stores across the country that day.
Today the building is occupied by Superdrug, Dorothy Perkin and Burton – so if you are visiting these shops on Ilford High Road, look up and see the Art Deco splendour of Woolworths past.
Source: Green & Partners
You can read about the newer Ilford Woolworths store 1241 here
30-31 Fishergate, Preston PR1 3PU
Woolworths’ second UK store opened in Preston, 35 miles north of Liverpool, on 5th February 1910. It was chosen because it was a market town with fine buildings and affluent factory workers. Originally the store was on the junction of Guildhall Street until 1922. It was in a prominent position at the top of Fishergate, facing the cotton town’s elegant town hall.
Source: Woolworths Museum
In the below postcard from 1901, you can see the store that Woolworths took over – the one with the hanging lanterns. Today the building does not exist. A plain-looking building housing Mountain Warehouse and HMV is in its place (have a look at the photo at the end of this post).
The long queues started to annoy local councillors trying to get to work, so after a number of court battles, in 1922 a larger store was built a few doors down, with a classic Art Deco style frontage. As the store was long and narrow, it was given a strong centrepiece at the top.
Source: Woolworths Museum
See how busy the store was in this 1960s photo.
Source: Lancashire Evening Post
Source: Blog Preston
Source: Preston Historical Society
In the mid-eighties, the store was trialed as a Weekend store. The inside was divided into areas, colour-coded in pastel shades. There were circular ‘cash and wrap’ points. There was a V-shaped lobby, and the door and window-frames were coloured peppermint blue (Source: Woolworth’s 100 years on the High Street, Morrison K.) You can see below the thin blue ‘Weekend’ strip inderneath Woolworths and how the doors go in diagonally to make the V-shaped lobby.
Source: Preston Historical Society
The ‘Weekend’ name was dropped quite soon after, but the V-shaped lobby and peppermint blue window and door frames stayed for over 20 years, until the end in 2008.
Source: Thompson, G.
Today Next has taken over the building and the beautiful Art Deco facade remains. You can see a few shops along are HMV and Mountain Warehouse, where the original Fishergate store was.
Source: Thompson, G.
Next time you are shopping along Fishergate in Preston, look up if you go into Next and take in the wonder of Woolworths past!
71 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DT
After Woolworths closed at 148/150 High Street, they moved down the road to 71 High Street.
71 High Street was quite a historical building in Sutton. It was where Sutton’s first department store was located, called Shinner’s Department store, built in 1935.
Source: K Park Prints and Collectables
Source: Old UK Photos
In 1979 Shinner’s was taken over by Allders, and they stayed in this building until 1991 when they moved into the new St Nicholas Shopping Centre (and then became Debenhams). Woolworths moved here in 1994, with a new store number 1192. It looks as though the building was rebuilt from the new-looking red brickwork, so perhaps this is why there was a 3-year gap. Woolworths traded here for 14 years until it closed in early January 2009.
Source: Featherstone, P.
Waterstones moved in, and it was the first Waterstones to trial their Cafe W concept. Meanwhile, the former Sutton Woolworths store manager teamed up with another store manager to open the toy shop Toy Barnhaus, which is still successfully trading today with 7 branches.
Source: Sutton Film Office
148/150 High Street, Sutton, Surrey
Sutton Woolworths was one of the very early stores of the chain. It opened in the High Street in 1916. In the below 1923 postcard, the Woolworths store can be seen on the right. It was next to the Surrey County Theatre which opened in 1921.
Below you can see the store to the far right. I’m estimating this to be in the 1930s from the cars.
Below is a 1935 postcard, where it can be seen that the store has had a refurbishment with an art deco cinema-style facade, quite suitable considering what the neighbouring building was.
This photo was taken shortly before Sutton High Street was pedestrianised in the early 1980s. Woolworths is on the left, where you can see the store’s 60s makeover – with the upper floors covered in what looks like concrete.
Source: Flickr, Simpson E.
Looking at the building today, yes it does seem to be some sort of grey concrete cladding, or maybe it’s metal. The store has been split into 2 units, a Burton/Dorothy Perkins and a Superdrug (I’ve merged two photos here from 192.com)
I don’t know the exact date Woolworths left this building, but I do know that the chain acquired Superdrug in 1988 and Woolworths opened in a new building at 71 High Street, Sutton in 1994.
I will cover the 71 High Street store (Store No. 1192) in a separate post.
22 – 26 and 34 – 38 Listergate, Nottingham NG1 7DG
Over 100 years ago in August 1914, Woolworths opened their first Nottingham store in historic Listergate. It possibly started off small, as between 1936-1937 F.W.Woolworth architects designed the most large-scale Art Deco front, extending the store to 22-26 Listergate. You can see how large it was in the below 1950s postcard.
In the 1960s, Woolworths extended into 34-38 Listergate, so there was a link from 22-26 on the ground floor through to 34-38. It was one giant store split in two. There was an enormous cafeteria that would seat approximately 500 people – some say the cafe was larger than some shops on the high street! Here is what the new half looked like.
Source: Roberts, George L – Picture the Past
1972 was when the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre was being built. Below is a photo showing this, and you can see the two halves of the Woolworths in the background.
Source: Nottinghamshire County Council
In the mid-70s, the fascias were updated to the new red ‘Woolworth’ and logo.
Source: Baker, Reg – Picture the Past
In 1984 Kingfisher sold the store, as they were getting rid of large stores to get more capital. The Listergate stores were sold to Boots. By this time there were many other Woolworths branches scattered across Nottingham, and they reopened in the town centre in 1991 in the new Victoria Centre.
Today, 22-26 Listergate is occupied by M&S, and 34-38 Listergate is occupied by Poundland, Optical Express and WHSmith. Here they are, both buildings looking remarkably as they did in their heyday, with the Art Deco front still looking as elegant and grand on the M&S store.
Source: Soult, Graham
61/64 Broad Street, Reading RG1 2AJ
Woolworths originally opened at 51 Broad Street, Reading in the Spring of 1922, which is where H&M is today. Some pretty fantastic vintage photos of the Reading store have been put up on www.reading-forum.co.uk by markjuk. (http://www.reading-forum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5709&p=51409)
The store was expanded to have entrances in Broad Street, Friar Street, Union Street and West Street, often used as a shortcut by shoppers to get from Friar Street to Broad Street. It sounds like it was MASSIVE, I can’t even imagine!
According to the Wargrave Local History Society, “Woolworths had moved to their present position in 1939, having earlier been nearer Union Street, although for a period in the late 80’s it was a shopping mall, then becoming Woolworths again.” Source: http://www.wargravehistory.org.uk/nov98.html
Now this shopping mall concept sounds interesting. According to 100thbirthday.co.uk, it was originally a prototype for a new large store format called ‘Jupiter’, but they decided on ‘The Woolworth Mall’, piloting Ladybird clothing, the ‘Le Cafe’ restaurant, as well as opticians, show repair and estate agent concessions and selling large kitchen appliances! The mall used yellow and grey colours rather than the traditional red and white, although not for long as the concept was dropped quickly in favour of getting rid of huge city centre stores.
“The site was closed for redevelopment in 1989, closing on 17th June. When the development was complete Woolworths moved into a small store in part of its original footprint, which opened on the company’s 85th birthday, 5th November 1992 (Store 1180).” Extract from 100thbirthday.co.uk (Source: http://www.100thbirthday.co.uk/images/StoreGallery/pages/0111Reading-1950.htm)
When I took these photos, I did notice how new the building looked – definitely not an original. The Reading Forum clarified this – Markjuk recalls “that a fire in the early 90s caused by squatters who in habited the derelict building, set fire to it causing extensive damage to the old Broad Street entrance prompting it to be demolished a few months later. Rather than save this art deco architecture, it was demolished and replaced with a bog standard brick building of no significance.” (Source: http://www.reading-forum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5709&p=51409)
And today it is a shiny new Clas Ohlson, selling pretty much what Woolies used to sell. I do like their pastel coloured straws 🙂
415-417 BRIXTON ROAD, LONDON SW9 8HJ
Brixton was the first London store! Number 7 of the group, Frank Woolworth decided to open it at 415-417 Brixton Road, as Brixton was an affluent part of London (yes really) where society ladies liked to shop apparently. It did really well there, catching commuters on the way to the railway station . It’s now the O2 store surrounded by many other phone shops, all quite new as this was the Foot Locker store that got set on fire in the summer of 2011 when the kids went all crazy. A bit of history repeating itself as this Woolworths store got bombed during WW1.
THEN – 1910
NOW – 2014
457-461 BRIXTON ROAD, LONDON SW9 8HJ
As the lease at 415-417 was to run out after 25 years, the store was relocated to the other end of the street on 3rd September 1936 to 457-461 Brixton Road,where an iconic Art Deco building was created and still stands there today – minus Woolworth sign 😦
THEN – 1936
Source for 2003 and 2008 pic: http://www.urban75.org/london/goodbye-woolworths-brixton.html