36/44 St John’s Road, London SW11 1PP
Woolworths opened their thirty-fourth store in Clapham Junction, South West London in 1914. There is not much information from the early days, but there is a photo of the toy department from 1987.
Source: Woolworths Museum
From the below photo it looks like the store had a 1930s makeover, probably a smaller store extended to a large store with an Art Deco facade. Over time one side became Superdrug. They were part of the Kingfisher groups in the 1980s, so this may have happened then.
The store closed before the company went bust, in the summer of 2008 when about 5 stores were closed down.
Today Waitrose has taken its place, with Superdrug still on the side. It really is a beautiful building, with 1930s style windows – do have a look if you’re ever shopping in Clapham Junction.
These store have already been written about, here are the links:
142/148 High Street, Lewisham, London SE13 6JJ
Woolworths opened its twentieth store in Lewisham, South East London in 1913. I am guessing this is because of its location near a railway station. Below you can see how it first looked before it had a rebuild.
Source: Woolworth’s 100 years on the high street, Morrison K.
In 1937 the store was upgraded with a cinema front. The company was particularly proud of its galleried frontage. The neon lettering at the top of the building cost £50,000!
When Lewisham Shopping Centre opened behind the Woolworths store in 1975, Woolworths made another entrance at the back to the shopping centre. In the 80s, the store was halved in size and that is when Superdrug moved in. Then in the 90s, the store was split again and they kept the shopping centre side, which had a new store number, until closure in 2008.
Today the building is shared by Superdrug and Currys, and somehow just does not look so grand anymore. Doesn’t it look huge in the old photos?? Maybe it’s the angle of the 1930s photo that makes it look bigger than it actually is. Still, it is great that the Art Deco front is still here – if you ever are on Lewisham High Street, do have a look out for it.
Source: The Lost Byway
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
105 Ballards Lane, Finchley, London N3 6JR
This store opened in 1938, in a familiar Woolworth architectural style (see far left):
Source: Francis Frith
And here it is today, the top half unchanged and clearly recognisable – now Superdrug and what looks like a closed down bakery.
Source: Property Link
18-20 London Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 1QA
Woolworths opened in the seaside town of Bognor Regis in 1928. I have found an undated postcard below of London Road and it looks as though the tall building in the centre, left side, is the F.W.Woolworth store.
The store had a 1950s makeover, but then in 1974 the store was set on fire when there was an IRA bomb. Woolworths would not be beaten and just 65 hours later the store reopened.
Source: Bognor Regis Museum
There’s not much info on the store, apart from its closure in December 2008.
Source: Flickr, Mark
Wilkos now occupy the building, and you can clearly recognise it as the upper facade is exactly the same – a bit of Woolies architecture still on the London Road.
Source: Flickr, ballysundriven
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.
93/105 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7JN
Woolworths originally opened in Bexleyheath at 93 The Broadway in 1930. This is a photo of the Broadway in 1935, the Woolworth store is possibly one of these buildings.
In 1984 the Broadway Shopping Centre was built. The whole parade of shops on the Broadway was demolished and Woolworths moved into the centre, with a very large store with an entrance facing the Broadway at no. 77 (which is Argos today) and an entrance facing the inside of the shopping centre.
Source: Local Data Company
1n 1990 the store was cut in half. The half they gave up was split into 3 units – one became Miss Selfridge, then HMV and then Select, the second unit became Superdrug, and the third became Argos. Woolworths traded as a smaller store from the other half.
In 2000 Woolworths relocated across the shopping centre into the old Safeway unit, which was funnily enough back at 93 The Broadway. It had a new store number – 1226.
Source: Chase, J., Museum of London
The store traded from here until it closed for good in 2008.
Now the building is occupied by New Look inside the shopping centre and H&M from the Broadway side.
103/104 New Street, Birmingham B2 4HG
Woolworths opened its second Birmingham store, after the Bull Ring, in New Street in July 1927. They traded from this side of the road for about 20 years, until there was serious bomb damage during WW2.
In 1956, the site of Birmingham’s Theatre Royal – which was located opposite the original New Street store – was sold to Woolworths. In the 1950s the Board was working with City Councils and development companies to transform inner city stores – in this case, they decided to build a skyscraper called ‘The Woolworth Building’. It was designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow who built it in two parts – the first in 1958-61 for Woolworths, the second part for Jack Cotton & Partners. According to the Birmingham Pevsner Architectural Guide, it was “New Street’s architectural disaster… a shapeless mass of Portland Stone, mosaic cladding and green slate stepping up to ten storeys.” – a bit harsh 😛
Above is the ‘skyscraper’, which opened for business in 1961. The offices upstairs generated a substantial rental income for the company.
Below is a side angle of the store from the 1970s. Sadly when Kingfisher took over, they closed this store in 1983 along with the Bullring store. So for a while there were no Woolworths in Birmingham City Centre, until the 1990s when a store opened in the Pallasades Shopping Centre.
Source: Warrick, Mark
Today, the building is now named “Charters Building”. The building on it’s left is the surviving ‘Piccadilly Arcade’ section of the Theatre Royal. In the 1990s, there was a refurbishment of the offices, and the glass lift was added. The retail unit has been split into three and are occupied by Superdrug, Bella Italia and Boots. So if you’re ever having dinner at Bella Italia in Birmingham, just remember you are sitting in a quite historic ex-Woolworths!
19/23 Palmerston Road, Southsea, Hants PO5 3QA
The 50th Woolworths store to open in the UK was in the seaside town of Southsea (after the neighbouring Portsmouth branch opened a year earlier), opening on 26th June 1915 at Palmerston Road. Below is the road in 1925, one of these shops was the Woolworths.
Source: Past and Present Publications
As sales were good, the building was extended in March 1932. Unfortunately this was one of the 26 stores that got destroyed in World War 2, on 11th January 1941.
After the war, Palmerston Road was redesigned, and Woolworths moved to a new location at numbers 19-23, opening on 10th October 1951 with a newly designed store. The new building was more accessible, with wider step-free entrances, and was significantly larger and brighter.
From this photo you can see they even put a ‘Woolworth’ fascia above each set of doors.
Source: Baker, Richard
Southsea Woolworths was one of the last stores to convert to self-service in 1973, I presume it being a laid-back seaside town, they took their time 😉 In 1988 the building was split in half, with 22-23 given to Superdrug. Then the store was was modernised again in August 1992.
Source: Baldock, James (used with permission)
Southsea Woolworths closed on 2nd January 2009, looking pretty much as it did in 2004 in the photo above. It lay empty for over 2 years.
Then, making a change from the norm, the council decided to open a library at this site. Southsea Library opened on 29th July 2011, complete with a cafe serving coffees and cakes “and in honour of Woolworths’ memory, a themed pick and mix box for children.” (Source: Portsmouth Lib Dems)
What’s nice to see is that above the library and Superdrug, the building appears exactly as how it looked in 1951. If you ever visit Southsea, do have a look.
Source: Custodian Reit plc
37-41 High Street, Harlesden NW10 4NH
Harlesden in North West London was the eleventh UK store and the third London store. “It opened in 1911 and closed in 1991 at the end of it’s lease. The original store was rather smaller, expanding to the below frontage in two stages in the 1920s and 1930s. The outlet took a little longer to get established than the first two London stores Brixton and Woolwich, but had built such a large clientele by the 1930s that it was doubled in size.” Source: http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/1910s-london.html
Woolworths shared the premises with sister company Superdrug in the 80s and moved out in the 90s.
Quote from Pat (Moss) Hurwood who was born in Harlesden in 1947 and lived there until 1963. “Further along towards the Jubilee Clock was a fishmongers that would have blocks of ice delivered about 7.30 each morning. Close to this was a wonderful Woolworths where you could spend what little pocket money you had. This shop went on fire and my brother, who was a budding photographer, sold a photo of the fire.” Source: http://www.movethat.co.uk/London/My/Harlesden
My sister works in Harlesden now at Champion records. She said her boss always mentions there was a Woolworths in Harlesden, which I supposed must have been really important being a record company. That’s where the interest in this post stems from. We are going to take a photo of what is in the building in the near future, when we are brave enough! Apparently it is some random home store, after Superdrug moved to across the road.
Edit 04/18 – she doesn’t worth there anymore and we never took that photo!! But here is a Google Maps image, where I have worked out it is Way2Save from the curve above the windows on the right – you can see this curve in the old 1920s Woolworths photo above.