52/53 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HW
A Woolies in Oxford I hear you say? Yes there was, a long time ago. It first opened at 8 Cornmarket Street in May 1925 in the former Roebuck Inn. It was so popular that they had to find bigger premises. Below is the store in 1930, with H Samuel next door.
It has now been a Boots for decades – they were next door and expanded into the ex-Woolworths premises.
A bit of drama happened when bosses found a suitable building to move to and bought the Clarenden Hotel in 1930 (which had been in Oxford since the 1600s). They planned to demolish it and battled for years with the Oxford Authorities to get approval. It all had to go on hold while the war took place, but it was back on in 1950. Many designs were turned down.
“Publicly they cited fears that such a large shop would encourage more traffic in a highly congested area. Privately they let slip that they felt that a larger Woolworth would lower the tone and would be ill-suited to the dreaming spires.” Quote from the Woolworths Museum
Scottish architect Sir William Holford took over, with a mission to create a ‘Woolworths Worthy of Oxford’. After 27 years (!) what finally got approved was a huge new store with the front made of local Clipson Stone, Bladon Stone and Grey Slate. It had bright new displays with new ranges next to the old faithfuls, as well as a deluxe cafeteria, offices upstairs, a spectacular roof garden and a multi-storey car park. Pretty extravagant for a Woolies. Here is an original ad for the opening day on 18th October 1957:
Below are customers taking a sneak peek through the windows of the new store before it opened.
And here is the building with it’s Clipson Stone, Bladon Stone and Grey Slate:
Source (above 2 photos): http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/1950s-hugeq.htm
Now after all that hard work getting this store built, it closed down. It was only open for 26 years – it took longer than that to get building approval. When Kingfisher took the company over, they closed the store in 1983 – locals were shocked. There was never a Woolworths in Oxford ever again, the nearest one being in Cowley.
Today the building is the Clarendon Shopping Centre and Gap, very nice and shiny inside too. And Woolworths lives on with it’s ornate ‘W’ inscription at the right entrance.
*Please note I originally wrote this post in 2014.*
87/91 Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3DU
In 1911, Woolworths opened their tenth UK store in Bristol, located at Castle Street. It was a busy and bustling street as you can see from this 1930s postcard. Sadly this store was destroyed along with the whole of Castle Street in WW2.
In 1950, Bristol rebuilt the worn-torn area, and Woolworths reopened on Broadmead. Stores built after the war were of a new look – bigger and brighter, and made with modern materials such as stainless steel and marble, instead of wooden doors and wooden floorboards. Bristol became the chain’s largest multi-floor store.
Source: Townsend, Paul
Here is it in the 1970s with it’s updated fascia, and you can see Swears & Wells became Thomas Cook and H Samuel is to the left (you can recognise the clock).
Source: Townsend, Paul
Source: Townsend, Paul
Bristol Broadmead was quite a unique Woolworths – it was the one chosen to be a trial new concept store in 1982 called ‘21st Century Shopping’. It took all the Woolworths branding out – the idea was to attract city commuters to be able to have a ‘quick’ shop. Inside you had sports ranges at the front (from sister brand Footlocker), then a middle section of Women’s fashion and then a small grocery section. Sounds a bit random to me. The whole of Bristol scoffed at it – City workers did not use it, and loyal Woolies shoppers were upset – an epic fail.
Source: Woolworths Museum
In 1983 the store was reinstated to Woolworths again, although they carried on using the leftover 21st Century carrier bags for a long time.
Source: pepperrn1, flickr
On 23rd January 1988 the store had to close as the Galleries Shopping Centre was to be built – so the building got demolished! Here it is just before demolition.
Woolworths moved into the new shopping centre, which you can read about here: Bristol -The Galleries – Store 1174
Source: Hobbs, Neil
442/446 Holloway Road, London N7 6QE
I had many fond memories of Holloway Road from the 1990s when I started my student life, but I did not recall a Woolworths. So when I saw it listed on the 1970s store list, the idea for this whole blog began…
Woolworths opened on the bustling Holloway Road in the 1920s, opposite the Nags Head public house of which the area is now named after. Here is a photo from the 1950s, when trolleybuses were in use – there was a bus stop directly outside the store. There were upper floors, so I would say this was quite a large Woolworths.
Source: Carter, C
Below are two photos from the 1960s, where we can see the neighbouring buildings were J Lyons tea shop and H Samuel jewellers. It appears the road has also been enlarged since the 1950s.
Source: Pask, Brian
Source: Bannister, Geoff
Somewhere along the line, there was a makeover, I am guessing in the mid-1960s from the look of the building today. Then the store closed, possibly in the 1980s when Kingfisher took over, I can only speculate. What I do know is that it was definitely an Iceland in 1997.
Here is a more recent image of this parade of shops from 2010, where we can clearly see Iceland is where Woolworths was. The J Lyon tea shop is now Mothercare, H Samuel is T-Mobile (although probably an EE store now), and Marks & Spencer is still there looking remarkably unchanged. How was that for a lovely trip back in time 🙂
Source: diamond geezer