10/14 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AW
In 1925, Woolworths built their Scottish flagship store on the busy and bustling Princes Street, opening its doors in March 1926. It was the second store in Edinburgh after the first one in Leith, but this one was much grander.
Source: ifo Apple Store
Here is it in 1933. Its location next to the Royal British Hotel and Palace Cinema, and opposite the infamous Waverley Steps made it a national landmark.
In 1956 they expanded into the cinema next door, demolishing it and extending their external facade and adding a floor in the roof. The F.W.Woolworth fascia was updated to extend the whole way across.
Here it is in the 1980s shortly before closing, with it’s updated logo.
Source: The Scotsman
1984 they closed down when Kingfisher took over and closed most of their large Woolworth stores. A Wimpy soon opened in its place, here it is in 1986.
Source: Lost Edinburgh Facebook Group
In the 1990s the Wimpy became a Burger King. Here is the parade of shops in 2009, with Boots, Evans and Waterstones.
Source: Beth’s Blogging (design) Blog
All the shops left and the building was empty for a number of years. Then in 2011, Apple started a $20 million reconstruction of the whole building, with the insides totally changed but keeping the grand exterior facade as it was – as fortunately this is a listed building.
This is a photo taken by my brother in March 2015 – we can see it is an Apple Store and a Barclays, and the Royal British Hotel is still there. The Apple branding is very subtle, and the interior is completely open – quite different from it’s Woolworths day, yet the exterior is keeping its heritage. Good work Apple.
This post was originally written in 2015.
12 – 16 Bridge Street, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Woolworths opened in Ballymena in Northern Ireland in 1926. I’m afraid there are no photos online of this store while it was open. But there is this article that talks about the store, written in December 2008: https://www.ballymenatimes.com/news/the-wonder-of-woolies-ballymena-1-1911305
“At the height of its popularity in the Swinging Sixties and Multi-Coloured Seventies, Woolworths was the filling in the sandwich which linked Harryville to the top of the town and was, quite simply, ‘the’ one store which made each and every family shopping trip in Ballymena complete.
Step inside and you were immediately greeted by counter after counter, fitted in wood of course, divided up into small glass-sided compartments filled to overflowing with all manner of items that no child or adult could resist. From chocolate bars, novelty candies, boiled sweets, broken biscuits and chocolates in one section to buttons, needles, threads and pins in another, the variety for which Woolworths is famed was rolled out from the front to the back of a store which could keep a shopper, of any age, busy for hours. From light bulbs to ironing boards, aftershave to hot roasted peanuts, pet food and even fishing rods, there was little that the Bridge Street store did not stock.
At a time when few of us had a camera to call or own and mobile phones were decades away from invention, it was Woolies that had the solution to our picture problems, housing just about the only photo booth in the town.
A love of Woolworths today, however, is for most of us borne out of those weekly childhood visits to the pick ‘n’ mix and that’s something that even the latest generation of Woolies customers can understand and agree on.
Few could disagree too that the closure of the Bridge Street shop took much of the life out of that once busy retail thoroughfare or that its forthcoming disappearance from the town altogether, in the absence of a buyer for the company, will be a sad loss to shoppers in the borough.”
Source: Ballymena Times
This store closed in the 2000s and moved into the nearby shopping centre which had a new store number.
Today, from what I can gather on Google Maps, the building has been demolished and there is just land ready from redevelopment.
12 – 16 High Street, Ayr, South Ayrshire
Woolworths opened in Ayr in 1926 on the site of the old King’s Arms Hotel, which was demolished to build the new store. Presumably there was an Art Deco facade, and in the 1950s there was probably a makeover so that it looked more like the store in the below photo.
Source: Hurst CJ
Unfortunately I cannot find any photos of the store when it was actually open, but I do have a memory from former employee Kevin Alexander. He remembers working with Ken Wilkinson, Tom Reilly and John Savil in the 70s. “Tom decided he wanted to move habby from the wall on the way up to the canteen to the left wall shopping with pictures. We used to display them on Huntley brackets on flat bars. It took me all of Wednesday afternoon’s half day closing. Tom rolls in at about 6pm with a dart board – he had taken up darts and wanted to practice, and didn’t want to be seen from main road.” Cheeky!
This Woolworths closed around 2007 and they moved to the other end of the High Street at numbers 127 – 137 High Street with a new store number of 1266. The old Woolworths along with the neighbouring stores had been acquired for redevelopment – see the below photo. The old Woolworths store is to the left. The plans are to transform this area to a modern riverside block (the River Ayr runs behind these buildings). The building have now been demolished and archaeologists have found the remains of the old King’s Arms Hotel where Woolworths was, along with pieces of medieval pottery and the walls of the pub.
If you compare the above photo with the below, you can see that Woolworths was exactly where the Kings Arm Hotel was, as the neighbouring buildings were the same.
44 – 46 Spring Gardens, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6DB
Woolworths opened in Buxton on 1926, on part of the site of the former Shakespeare Hotel that was built in 1711. Similar to Store 208 Widnes, this store had the vintage F.W. Woolworth fascia on as late as the 1990s. It is rare you get to see so clearly how a store would have looked in the old days. Note the mosaic W on the flooring in the doorways, and the ‘Woolworth’ above the doors.
The window POS is very nineties: ‘£2 1/2 Million Music & Video Clearance’ – ‘Videos from £3.99’, ‘LPs and cassettes from 99p’ in the left window. On the right window: ‘Extra Value Here’ with paintbrushes on the wall and a display of what looks like storage buckets, bathroom scales.
Below is a photo from a decade later, with the store having been modernised – new fascia, new doors, mosaic tiled centre pillar, ‘Woolworth’ gone from above the doors, the ‘W’ gone from the top of the windows and the mosaic floor ‘W’ in the doorways gone.
Source: Emily and James
It looks like there was a 1/2 price sale, the left window says ‘Sale ends 3rd May’ and ‘The Giant Sale’ with what looks like CDs and DVDs/Videos. There is an ‘Offer of the Week’ side poster and in the right window it says ‘Save 20% all garden furniture’.
The store closed down on the 27th December 2008. It became a Mountain Warehouse shop.
The original archway from the Shakespeare Hotel is still to the left of the store – have a look at the original below and see. Pretty historic!
111 – 112 High Street, Stourbridge, Worcestershire
Woolworths opened in the historic town of Stourbridge in early 1926. It opened on the High Street, but unfortunately I can’t find any photos of the original store. From the address, we can work out the it is where the Co-operative was, next to HSBC which was presumably Midland Bank in the old days.
Woolworths left this building in 1974 when they moved into the town’s new shopping centre. The Co-op have recently left the building too, after being here for many decades, and I think this area is being redeveloped.
7 Ryemarket, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1DU
In 1974 Woolworths opened a new store in the new Ryemarket shopping centre, keeping store number 210. On the opening day, this heavyweight boxing champ was mobbed by autograph hunters when he officially opened the store. Look at the 1970s signs in the background, and the escalator – it must have been a large store to have escalators.
Source: Worral A.
Here are two photos from the 1990s that were taken by Peter who kindly emailed them to me from his personal photos. It’s an absolutely fantastic capture, the 1970s fascia, and winfield logos on the doors, even the doors themselves look so retro. There’s a PlayStation offer on the poster in the window, a National Lottery poster – the lottery was quite new in the 90s from what I remember.
I particularly like the sign that says “No loitering in this area”.
The store lasted until the end in December 2008. This photo was taken 2 days before the last day, and the photographer says he had to take the photo really quickly as there was a constant stream on people walking in front of the store.
Source: Chadwick P.
Today you will find Home Bargains in its place.
2 – 4 Albert Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 6JF
Widnes was the first Woolworths store to open in the year of 1926. The store was on the corner of Albert Road and Winfield Way. It was not a purpose-built store as the building was part of a parade of shops. But the actual shopfront was Woolworths style with the store wrapping around the corner (see on the left of this photo).
The store was a long, narrow store that went quite far back, and quite a unique store as it had it’s original fascia well into the 1990s!
Carl Meredith worked at the store in the 90s and he has some interesting facts:
“The store sign was never updated from the original “F W Woolworths & Co Ltd” until the store had its convenience refurb in the summer of 1994, when it got its more modern “WOOLWORTHS” sign. It never had the any other version of the sign through the 70s and 80s – so no curly “W” or the big capitals letters version of the sign.
Notice as well, no shutters on the store at this time in history – unfortunately, with the rise in the popularity of video games in the mid-90s, the store had multiple break-ins through the store front window. After this, shutters were installed.”
The store lasted until the end, when Woolworths went bust in 2008. This picture was taken by Carl a couple of days before closing in December 2008. He says, “The 3D letters of the sign which the store had in the 90s were replaced in the early 00s with this flat, plain (dare I say cheaper?) version of the store sign.”
Source: Meredith C.
Two months later, the store became a B&M.
More recently, B&M closed their store down (as there is also a huge Home Store in the town). In October 2018, Heron Foods opened in the building. If you are ever in town, take a closer look and you’ll recognise the Woolworths doors and windows.
Source: Meredith C.
13-15 Stall Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 1QA
Woolworths opened in Bath in 1925. The store, designed by William Priddle, was on the corner of Stall Street and Abbeygate Street. Local architects admired the building apart from ‘one conspicuous defect’ – the way the shopfront continued across the corner bay. Of course Woolworths favoured these corners.
Source: Woolworths 100 Years on the High Street – Morrison K.
Woolworths moved out of this building in 1963. It still exists though, even the little lion head motive, and recently has been HMV.
19 Stall Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 1QA
In 1963, Woolworths did move far, moving just a couple of shops along to number 19 Stall Street. Again this was a corner store, but much larger.
Source: Bath in Time
The store sadly closed in April 1989. There was another Woolworths store in the area though, at Oldfield Park (Store 918), which opened in 1956.
Marks and Spencers, who were next door to Woolworths at numbers 16-18, extended into the vacant Woolworths premises.
19 Middle Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1LF
Woolworths opened on Middle Street in Yeovil, opposite the George Inn, in November 1925. Middle Street was the main road from London to the West Country then, so it was a very busy area.
The store was extended in 1931, and then it looks as though it had a 1950s makeover from the look of the frontage in the below photo. Here’s an extract from ‘Yeovil in the 1960s‘, with Middle Street described by Roger Froude who was a teenager then, “of course FW Woolworth’s – still stuck in the 1950s with its wooden floorboards and the aroma of hot fresh roasted peanuts.” – so funny how Woolworths was never up-to-date!
Source: Osborn B, Flickr
The photo is from around 1965. You have to read the caption that accompanied it,
“I think we all mourn the passing of Woolies – but the interesting thing about this photo is the ‘footprint’ of the George Inn on the pavement.
So, the George was demolished to widen the road but some twat at the Council forgot to realise that they didn’t own the land (not much of a surprise there then) so the road couldn’t be widened after all. In any event within ten years the road was pedestrianised, so this wonderful 14th century building was, pretty much, wantonly destroyed for nothing.”
Here is a photo of the George, shame it was demolished. The 60s really was a decade of architectural crimes! This is where the 99p store stood recently – I guess it’s now Poundland. It was Primark for many years, but you’ll see where they moved to if you read on.
Source: Osborn B, Flickr
Back to Woolworths, and the store was modernised in 1973. Then in 1985, it was chosen to be one of the first prototype Woolworths Weekend comparison stores, including a Tea Bar restaurant. Penny White was the assistant manager at that time. She says it was the first to get the red walkway and the lighting was really expensive! They had a lovely team of people who made being away from home much nicer.
Moving on two decades and in the 2000s, it became one of the 10/10 trial stores. You can see it on the right of this 2007 photo, it looks as though there was a really strange red and yellow fascia. Opposite the Woolworths, you can see Primark on the left of the photo, on the site of the old George Inn – it too having a strange logo.
Source: The A-Z of Yeovil’s History
This photo was taken shortly before the store closed for good in December 2008.
Source: Smith S
The building lay empty for over 18 months, when it was announced that Primark would be moving from across the road to open a bigger contemporary store. The new Primark opened in 2011, with the 99p Store occupying the old Primark building opposite. It is still quite recognisable as a Woolies building.
Source: The A-Z of Yeovil’s History
21 – 27 London Road, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 6BT
Woolworths opened in Enfield Town, North London, in 1925. There are no photos of the store from the early days, but we can guess there was a 1950s makeover from the style of the building in this photo, and it looks like it was quite a large store.
This store closed when the chain went bust in December 2008. It was empty for quite a few months, and then became a ‘Home Solutions’ store. Today you will find Poundland and Pep & Co in the building.
69 – 70 High Street, Barnstaple, Devon
Woolworths opened in Barnstaple, North Devon, in 1925. We don’t know what the original store looked like, as the only photo I can find is this one which looks 1970s or 80. From the style of the building we can guess there was a 1950s makeover. It is interesting that the fascia is grey rather than red. In the 1980s the manager was Bob Brock, who was a real gentlemen according to fellow Woolies manager Ian Exeter.
Source: Barnstaple History
The store closed in April 1992 when Woolworths moved into the Green Lanes Shopping Centre with a new store number of 1177.
Today the High Street store is Boots, and if you look up you can see the 1950s Woolworths architecture on the first floor.
504 – 506 Harrow Road, London W9 3QD
Woolworths opened on Harrow Road in London W9 in 1925. This area is known as Maida Hill, about 3 miles from Paddington. It was close to Westbourne Park underground station. There is not much information online about the store, but there is this close-up photo from 1955. You can see the kitchenware products in the window, and how prams were kept outside in those days. It looks like this mother had an early style Smart Trike!
Source: Westminster Memories
This photo is supposedly the store in the 1960s, but I have my doubts as there are no buildings with this style of window on the Harrow Road today. UPDATE 25/11/18: Thank to Stuart Kew for confirming this photo is of Harlesden Store 11 and not Maida Hill. I have now added this photo to the Harlesden post.
Source: Maida Hill Forum
The store closed in June 1986. The store at the address of 504 – 506 Harrow Road is the Co-operative (formerly Somerfield). The upper floors of this store look nothing like the 1960s photo, which is why I suspect it has been captioned incorrectly. Either that or the Woolworths store moved, and the building was demolished. All we do know is that Woolworths was where the Co-operative is today.
90/90a High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1PU
Woolworths opened in the Berkshire town of Maidenhead in 1925, on the High Street. It was next to Barclays Bank (who are still there today, albeit in a more modern building).
Source: Postcards of Maidenhead
Maidenhead was one of the first stores called ‘Woolworths’ with a ‘s’, having been Woolworth before then. This happened in 1985 when it was chosen to be a ‘Cornerstone’ Store along with Orpington and Bedford, where they launched the Ladybird clothing range. The 6 cornerstones were DIY, Leisure and Play, Homewares, General Convenience, Clothing and Daily Provisions. In this photo, you can see ‘Quick Snacks’ and ‘Crusty Bread’ through the window.
Source: Woolworths Museum
Below are two pictures that I took myself, as I used to work around the corner. First is before the closure announcement, second is when the store was closing down.
Today you will find Wilkos in its place, but look up and you’ll see the original Woolworths architecture.
38 – 42 High Street, Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey, Kent ME12 1NN
Woolworths opened in Sheerness in 1925. You can see the store in the below postcard, a purpose-built single-storey store with the recognisable Woolworths architecture on the first floor.
In this 1950s photo it looks like there is quite a crowd outside the store. You can also see the blinds in the windows.
Source: Francis Frith
In the 1960s the store was extended and had this typical simple style. I do like the very 1980s style Sale posters in the window. This photo was taken when there was heavy snowfall in town and the store had to close for the day.
The store closed for good when the chain went bust in December 2008. It lay abandoned for a few years.
Today it is a council building called the Sheppey Gateway which offers local services and has a library.
37 Eign Gate, Hereford, Worcestershire HR4 0AD
In 1925 Woolworths opened their 200th store in the historic city of Hereford. Sadly I can’t find any photos of the store in the early days. We do know that the building was identical to the early Sheerness store (no. 201), as they were probably designed at the same time.
In 1962-3, the store had a huge update with a new facade, and an Iron Age or Romano-British quern was found during the extension work. The new building had many upper floors that protuded over the ground floor.
The store closed in January 2009.
It became a Peacocks store, which it still is today.
59 – 67 High Street, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 2HA
Woolworths opened their 199th store in October 1925 in the town of Crewe. The store they built had a grand Art Deco style, as you can see in the photo below. It spanned from numbers 59 to 67 of the High Street.
Source: Francis Frith
The store closed in 1984, another casualty of the Kingfisher closures. Today you’ll find Poundland here, and you’ll happy to see the Art Deco frontage is still there, but it seems to have lost the top floor (compare it to the 1960s photo to see!).
36/40 King Street, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
Woolworths opened in Kilmarnock in 1925, on the corner of King Street and Market Lane.
They were at this location until the 1970s, when the buildings on this side of the road were demolished to make the Burns shopping centre. Today WHSmith is at numbers 36 – 40.
8-10 King Street, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire KA1 1NU
The new Woolworths store was at numbers 8 – 10 of the same street as part of the new shopping centre, in bigger premises. There was an entrance from King Street and an entrance inside the shopping centre. From the fascia in this photo, we can see it had a 10/10 refurb in the 2000s. The store closed in January 2009.
Source: Daily Record
After closure the unit was empty for a while before being split into two units. The unit with the shopping centre entrance is now Home Bargains. The King Street side is New Look.
111/117 High Street, Perth, Tayside, Scotland
Woolworths opened in Perth, Scotland in September 1925, on the High Street (see on the right of this photo).
Source: Stevenson S.
In 1966 the store was extended and the building reskinned. The new store had a restaurant on the upper floor. A small Salisbury’s store was at the side of the store, but within the same building.
Former employee Scott Barber remembers John Bain being the store manager and Mary Bisset the Assistant Manager while he worked there. He says “The restaurant was closed when I started there but the old prices were still in the stairway leading from it. The walk to the office involved 158 steps up the staircase. The store had its ghost, and more lifts than any other store I’ve ever been in. We got flooded when the Tay burst its banks and I had to get a pump to empty the basement switch cupboard out. We closed for one day and had half lights for a week.”
Source: Historic England
May Banach remembers training days at Perth store, and like Scott, she remembers that there were lots of stairs to go up and down.
Tony Coghlan says his best memory of the store was “one Christmas when John Bain had set up a Santa’s Grotto in one of the lifts at the back of the store. As he showed me, the lift went up to the stock room without the doors being closed! Something that can’t happen. But it did! I also remember a Christmas conference there and we took the roof off with We are the champions. And you know what? We really were.”
Another Tony, Tony Jenkins, had a Saturday job on the tills around 1994. He remembers it being a great job, working his way up to cash desk supervisor, and having lots of nights out with his colleagues!
Source: Allen K.
Marriane Ellis first went to Perth store in 1984. Store 124 Dunfermline had been sold and she had been asked to go to Perth to help with the planned closure of the store. “I closed the upper sales floor where the café and furniture department was. However Head Office contacted us to stop the process as it turned out Perth was a lease and not owned by Woolworths. Paternosca was only interested in properties that they could sell. Next time I was back was 1986 to deliver “Feelings” warm fuzziest and cold pricklies!!”
Now, if you are wondering what Marriane is talking about, “Feelings” was a customer service incentive scheme in the mid-80s, based around the concept of giving customers a ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling and not a ‘cold prickly’ feeling. There’s a whole article about the scheme, if you fancy reading more about it.
Perth Woolworths 2008
Perth Woolworths closed in December 2008 when the chain went bust. After the store closed, it lay empty for quite a few years. There were plans to demolish the building and create a new street connecting the High Street with the Concert Hall. But lucky for us Woolworths fans, the building remains and it is now Next and New Look.
49a Westow Hill, Upper Norwood, London SE19 1TT
The Upper Norwood branch in South London was more commonly known as Crystal Palace Woolworths. It opened in 1925 on Westow Hill. You can see the store in this 1955 photo, on the right with the art deco facade.
Sometime after, the store was given a makeover, and the upper floors looked more simple, just plain brick. Mark Sawyers was the store manager in 2002-03. He remembers it was “a lovely little shop, had a great time there. It had such a great little village feel for an area of South East London… it was really Crystal Palace..”
The store closed in December 2008.
Source: Diamond Geezer
I believe the store was empty for a good few years before becoming a Poundstretcher. The Woolworths tiled pillars are still in place.
PS. If you look at the windows above the Little Palace Cafe in the ‘now’ photo, and compare with the 1955 photo, you can see they are the same windows in the building next to the art deco Woolworths.
42 – 46 East Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4HF
Woolworths opened in Bedminster in 1925, with the Arcade Billiard Hall upstairs. I can’t find a photo of the original store. There is just this photo from when the store was closing at the end of 2008. It looks like a 1950s building from the look of the upper floor, and the store would have been larger going across the whole building. Superdrug is next door, so they probably halved in size in the 1980s and gave the other half to Superdrug as they were part of the same Kingfisher group. This is all my guesswork – if anyone can confirm, do let us know in the comments.
Source: Dixon J.
Poundland took over the Woolworths unit, and you can still see the Woolworths tiled pillars today.
13/15 Sidney Street, Cambridge CB2 3HJ
Woolworths opened in Cambridge in 1925. The building resembled nearby Sidney Sussex College. It featured a gable, a first-floor oriel, leaded casements, a tiled roof and an armorial cartouche incorporating a bend taken from the arms of the college*. Sainsbury’s next door, built in the same year, had similar architecture. This was probably imposed on the stores to keep with the look of the area.
Source: Historic England
In 1929 the store was extended.
In 1959 the store was extended again. A planning condition stipulated accommodation for 140 cycles.
In this 1961 photo, Woolworths can be seen on the right. It looks like it was a busy, rainy day.
Source: Cambridgeshire Live
The store closed in April 2003.
Source: JJ Justin
It became a Next store which it still is today, and you can still see the original architecture above.
*Extract from Woolworth’s 100 Years on the High Street – Morrison K.