6 Grand Parade, High Street, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1BU
Woolworths opened on the High Street in Crawley on 26th July 1940. It was the last store in the chain to open for another 6 years, due to World War 2. Below you can see it’s the building with the awning and a car parked in front of it. The Woolworth architects had designed an upper balcony and a small turret on the roof.
Source: Grandma P’s Ramblings
This store closed in 1957 when they moved to the ‘new town’. The building was subsequently occupied by a Halifax branch, and today it is a Wetherspoons pub – The Jubilee Oak. The building has not changed at all.
17-19 Queens Square, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1EA
In the 1950s, Crawley was designated as a ‘new town’ by the government due to it’s rapidly expanding population. Woolworths moved from it’s small High St store to Queens Square where it opened as the largest self-service store of the 1950s.
Here is an extract from the Woolworths Museum:
“In 1957 Woolworth bosses went a step further, opening a much larger self-service store in Crawley New Town. A small store in the High Street was replaced by a much larger branch in nearby Queen’s Square. Executives hoped that a halo effect from the marketing of the new town, which portrayed it as ultra-modern, would help to break down customer resistance to the new format. The store layout included a number of new display ideas, with fully redesigned fixtures and fittings. For the first time gondola islands were used, with shelving from top to bottom, without understocks cupboards at the base. This style of shelving remains the standard for most retailers in the twenty-first century. At the time it was a first and proved quite controversial. Some customers complained that they had to stoop to pick up items on the bottom two shelves, while company bosses worried that the stock cost to fill the Crawley store was almost double the level of a comparable personal-service store. Despite the reservations of some older customers, the overall feedback from the Crawley shoppers was positive. Most liked the layout and thought the store was very up-to-date.”
Now here’s something random. You can buy a 252 piece jigsaw puzzle of the Crawley Woolworths 1950s store front from Amazon here. Shipped from America. Weird!
Here you can see it in 1971, looking a bit shabby after 14 years.
Source: Flickr, JR James Archive
Another random fact, Chico did an instore signing of his single D.I.S.C.O in Crawley Woolworths in August 2006.
Here is the store in 2008, before it closed later that year.
Today the building is occupied by Poundland. It was planned to demolish the building in 2013 as part of the Queens Square regeneration, but it is staying put and the actual square is being renovated now.
Source: Flickr, Ballysundriven
101 High Street, Billericay, Essex CM12 9AW
Woolworths opened in Billericay in 1955/1956. They took over the site of the Telephone Exchange on the High Street, which had been on this spot from 1929 – 1952. The Telephone Exchange was demolished and Woolworths built the store in the below photo. It opened at a time when Self Service was just being introduced to the High Street – you can see the sign above the doorway in the centre.
Here is a lovely memory of Billericay Woolworths in the 1950s:
“And there is Woolworths which when it arrived meant we had become a modern town. I can smell the newness of it still. It was our first experience of a self-service store with bright lights and wooden floors and low counters. Later I got my first Saturday job there earning the princely sum of 12s and 9d for the whole day. Mostly I remember my brother and I selecting a birthday gift there for mother with great love. We chose a pink plaster poodle standing appealingly on its hind legs, its collar studded with diamonds. We did not see its tawdriness just its cuteness and picking up a box paid for it and hurried home only to find the box was empty. It had taken us so long to save that shilling and we rushed back the two miles so distressed we were hardly able to speak, but the supervisor, Miss Lamb, was compassion personified and mother got her birthday present after all.” Aileen Wortley, Billericayhistory.org.uk
The store traded here for over 50 years until it closed for good on 2nd January 2009.
Source: Tim@SW2008, Flickr
An Iceland opened in it’s place quite soon after.
Source: Flickr, Ballysundriven
5 – 7 London Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7AB
Woolworths originally opened at 5 London Street in Basingstoke Old Town on 19th November 1921, taking over the premises of William Cannon, the butchers. They extended in 1935 into part of the drapery shop of J Boyer next door, making a larger store.
In Febraury 1959 the store was extended and modernised further. Below is how the new store looked.
Source: R L Brown, Sense of Place South East
1/13 Chiswick House, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 7LD
On 23rd October 1970 they relocated to Basingstoke’s new shopping centre, opening a HUGE new self-service store, with a restaurant, in a 3-storey building called Chiswick House. The Post Office moved into the empty London Street store. From this photo it looks as though it was all an indoor shopping centre, but today that ceiling has been opened up.
The move to self-service was a big deal in the 70s. On February 1971 they celebrated “D” Day – when half of all Woolworths stores had moved to self-service and decimalisation. Here is the cash wrap desk upstairs in the Clothing department at Basingstoke.
Source: Woolworths Museum
1993 the store was cut to half its size, and other stores opened up in Chiswick House. Today Poundland, Vision Express and Specsavers trade from that side.
In the 2000s it was one of the stores chosen to be a 10/10 store, still trading with a cafe, until it’s closure in December 2008.
Source: Talbot, C
The Post Office is still trading from the London Street location.
And the Chiswick House Woolies has been split into 2 units. Greggs and a clothes store called Internacionale (I think) trade from there. Apologies for the grainy image, I actually took a photo of the wrong store (Poundland!), so have had to screenshot this off my vlog.
Other sources: Basingstoke Gazette