51/67 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, Teeside TS1 5BT
The eighth Woolworths branch to open in the UK was at Middlesbrough, back in 1911. According to the 1913 Kelly’s Directory of North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, it originally opened at 91-93 Linthorpe Road, but then moved to bigger premises at 51 -67, as pictured below.
Middlesbrough was bombed quite severely in WWII and Woolworths was hit. The store was rebuilt throughout the 1950s, reopening with a more modern look in 1959.
It traded for another 20 years before closing down in the 1980s when Kingfisher took over.
The building was split into 3 units and occupied by Currys, Champion and Fosters in the 1980s.
Today the building is now occupied by USC and River Island – the closed down unit was Currys.digital until recently. You can see from the below photo how imposing a building it was. It would have been quite a large Woolworths store.
In the 2000s, Woolworths returned to Middlesbrough as store 1200, which I’ll cover in a separate post.
23-24 Regent Street, Swindon, Wiltshire
Woolworths opened in Swindon the 12th September 1914 on Regent Street where it traded in a small buildling which was then extended to the left (No, 23) in 1936.
Here it is in the 1950s:
And the 1960s:
There was a refurb in 1973, which is when I presume they lost their beautiful Art Deco style facade. There was another refurb in 1980 and one more in 1995. It seems Swindon was the true trial store for the chain.
Source: Woolworths Museum
Extract from the Woolworths Museum: “As a prototype, the City store at Regent Street, Swindon, which had been one of Frank Woolworth’s first and favourite locations, was relaid, with new products and a new look. Unlike the work at Hounslow in 1994, the transformation was achieved cheaply and the result was spectacular. New ranges included a large cookshop, displayed on wooden tables as well as regular counters. It offered a more fashionable range, including kitchen appliances and a wider selection of china and glassware. Kids ranges were moved towards the front of the dual entrance store, in a carpeted area to the left hand side of the main gangway. The restaurant was moved down to the ground floor and given a new look. Swindon had the look and feel of a modern department store. The idea was repeated in Doncaster, Yorkshire and was refined further in the branch in the Arndale Centre at Luton, Bedfordshire.”
Here is the store in 2006. This is the image many head office folk will remember as we were sent on training courses in Swindon. It truly was enormous inside.
Source: Armin Grewe
The store closed down in January 2009, and a year later it reopened as a temporary BHS, while their site was demolished as part of the £25m ‘The Parade‘ redevelopment project that houses stores including BHS, Topshop and River Island. This is now complete.
Today the unit has been spilt and is occupied by the oh-so-glam Poundworld, DiscountUK and Peacocks. Priceless next door seems to have disappeared too.
Source: Property Link
13-15 Northbrook Street, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1DJ
Woolworths opened in the market town of Newbury on 3rd March 1928, next to the prestigious department store Camp Hopson. It started off in small premises – here is a photo I estimate from 1930s:
Source: Newbury Community Forum
In the early 60s, the store was extended to nearly double it’s size, and the front fascia completely remodelled.
Source: Newbury Community Forum
After the makeover, the store front didn’t change much in appearance over the years, although it did have a series of extensions at the rear. Below is the store around 1965, with Burtons on the other side. We can see how traffic is building up here.
Here is the store in the late 1980s, before the street got pedestrianised in 1998.
Newbury Woolworths closed on 30th December 2008, after 90 years of trading. Here is a photo from when I visited the town in March 2009. From these photos you can see the buildings have not changed since the 60s, and the M&S clock is still standing (needs a new battery though 😉 ) – Northbrook Street has a lot of listed buildings, making it very picturesque.
Today it is a Wilko (or Wilkinson’s) – I went inside and it is just like walking into Woolworths. The aisles and pillars are the same as before, and the store seems to go on for miles! There’s a back side entrance that leads on to a car park and the back of Camp Hopson. It is nice to have a replacement that does remind you of Woolworths.