Photo gallery: more former Woolies around the UK (part 1)

Former Woolworths in Houghton-le-Spring

Former Woolworths in Houghton-le-Spring

Though I can’t claim to make a habit of visiting six old Woolies stores in the same day (including Houghton-le-Spring, above), I have managed to build up a pretty good collection of former Woolworths pics over the last year or so – snapping them as I spot them, and, it must be admitted, making the occasional detour expressly to get another one.

I figured that it was therefore time to bring together all the photos of old Woolies that haven’t featured in Soult’s Retail View already, together with some of the ones that we’ve seen before. As you would expect it’s certainly an interesting mix, with some success stories but also plenty of properties that remain unoccupied nine months after Woolies’ demise.

Woolworths, Whitley Bay (26 Dec 2008)

Woolworths, Whitley Bay (26 Dec 2008)

To kick off, this photo of the store in Whitley Bay was taken on Boxing Day last year, a few days prior to closure. Sadly, I understand that the store is still empty, with little sign of anything happening. On the plus side, nothing seems to have come of the suggestion, from no less than the (now former) Elected Mayor, that the building should be turned into a new library; if Whitley Bay is to have any future as a retail centre, taking the town’s largest and most prominent shop unit out of retail use surely seems like a crazy idea.

Back in March I emailed the northern variety store retailer Boyes to suggest that Whitley Bay would be a perfect location for one of its shops. Whitley Bay, I argued, needed “a store like yours that sells a wide range of products at reasonable prices” – in my view, it’s this type of useful, everyday retailer that is most likely to get shoppers popping back into the town centre on a regular basis. Anyone who’s ever visited a Boyes store will appreciate that it’s the epitome of this kind of shop – truly a treasure trove of handy stuff such as homewares, toys, stationery, toiletries and clothing.

To Boyes’ great credit, I promptly got a personal email back from no less a figure than the company’s chairman, Andrew Boyes, confirming that the retailer was “interested in expansion into the [Tyne and Wear] area” and was “looking at opportunities”. So, though nothing has happened yet, the door for Boyes to pick up some old Woolies seemingly remains ajar.

Still in December last year, being in Chesterfield for my cousin’s wedding presented me with an opportunity to tick off another old Woolies that had closed down just three days earlier, in the town’s Vicar Lane Shopping Centre. Despite being a good-looking and well-located unit, the Vicar Lane store guide indicates that this store too remains empty almost ten months on.

Former Woolworths, Chesterfield (30 Dec 2008)

Former Woolworths, Chesterfield (30 Dec 2008)

Moving north of the border, another vacant unit is the store in Perth, captured not long after closure in February. As far as I can gather, however, this store also remains unoccupied.

Former Woolworths, Perth (23 Feb 2009)

Former Woolworths, Perth (23 Feb 2009)

Some good news now, and the old Woolworths in Hexham, in Northumberland – one of the very first tranche of 51 Woolies stores to be acquired by Iceland, back in January. This shot was taken in August, a couple of weeks before the store opened.

Former Woolworths, Hexham (8 Aug 2009)

Former Woolworths, Hexham (8 Aug 2009)

Iceland acquired another Northumberland store, in Morpeth, at the same time. This photo was also taken in August, with the supermarket already trading. To Iceland’s credit, it has done a good job in both Hexham and Morpeth of sprucing up two properties that were looking in need of some TLC while in Woolworths’ care.

Former Woolworths, Morpeth (15 Aug 2009)

Former Woolworths, Morpeth (15 Aug 2009)

I’ve already written, in some depth, about my recent visit to Durham. As I noted then, the new Tesco Metro in the former Market Place Woolworths seems to be nicely mopping up those city centre shoppers left adrift by last year’s departure of Waitrose.

Former Woolworths, Durham (11 Sep 2009)

Former Woolworths, Durham (11 Sep 2009)

There’s no need to repeat the photos that you’ve already seen of former Woolworths in Redcar, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-TeesHartlepool and Gateshead – all taken on 17 September – or the shot I used last week of the empty MetroCentre branch.

So let’s end, for the moment, with this shot of the recently opened Home Bargains in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

Former Woolworths, Tamworth (19 Sep 2009)

Former Woolworths, Tamworth (19 Sep 2009)

Tamworth and I go back a long way – it’s the place where I went to school, and is somewhere I still visit from time to time. So, I was pleased to see that Home Bargains had done such a good job of turning the slightly tired Woolworths premises in George Street into a really bright and modern store. Indeed, Home Bargains’ comprehensive refit of the unit, including a smart new shopfront, has successfully avoided the problem of the building still feeling like an old Woolworths (cf. Redcar or Middlesbrough).

It was also the first time I’d seen a tweaked Home Bargains fascia – in burgundy and grey, instead of the more garish red and bright blue – but it does work well in conveying a slightly more quality image for the retailer, as well as being more in keeping with the overall look of the street.

That’s all for now – but you can look forward to part 2 in due course which will feature a selection of Welsh former Woolworths stores – Holyhead, Porthmadog, Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno – as well as a few more local ones in Byker, Gosforth, Newcastle and Consett.

Time for a lie down, I think.

16 Responses to “Photo gallery: more former Woolies around the UK (part 1)”

  1. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Photo gallery: more former Woolies around the UK (part 2 – North Wales) said:

    Nov 22, 09 at 17:27

    [...] month I posted photographs of eight former Woolies stores as far apart as Tamworth in Staffordshire and Perth in Scotland. Now, as promised, I’m [...]

  2. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Photo gallery: more former Woolies around the UK (part 3 – North East) said:

    Nov 25, 09 at 00:56

    [...] Parts 1 and 2 of my former Woolworths photo gallery, it’s time to finish up – at least [...]

  3. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » One day – ten former Woolies – one tired blogger said:

    Dec 16, 09 at 21:25

    [...] and though I’ve featured the town’s former Woolworths – now Iceland – before, I wasn’t going to let that stop me capturing an up-to-date photo while I was there. [...]

  4. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Woolies Winter Wonderland… said:

    Jan 10, 10 at 10:58

    [...] – closed on 2 January 2009, and now Home Bargains – has already been featured in a previous blog post.) Former Woolworths, Burton upon Trent (23 Dec [...]

  5. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » The Original Factory Shop in Morpeth – a shift towards more upmarket locations? said:

    Jul 28, 10 at 19:42

    [...] the cyclical way of retail, Iceland returned to Morpeth in 2009 (in the former Woolies store opposite its original location), made a £110m pre-tax profit in the most recent financial year, [...]

  6. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Peacocks flies into Tamworth’s Ankerside centre said:

    Aug 06, 10 at 20:53

    [...] unit to have become available in recent years is the old Woolworths in George Street, eventually snapped up by Home Bargains. Wilkinson store, Tamworth (24 Dec [...]

  7. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Boyes takes over Bishop Auckland’s old Woolies – could more follow? said:

    Aug 27, 10 at 20:15

    [...] I noted in October, Boyes had expressed an interest in former Woolies sites in the North East as early as March last [...]

  8. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » One bus ticket – 11 former Midlands Woolies said:

    Nov 02, 10 at 01:28

    [...] in Tamworth, where the old Woolworths store – now Home Bargains – has featured in this blog several times before. Given that the shop’s frontage was obscured, inevitably, by tatty market stalls, I thought [...]

  9. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » And Berwick-upon-Tweed makes 33… said:

    Nov 03, 10 at 23:14

    [...] the store features the same toned down burgundy and grey fascia that I noted previously at the Tamworth and Prestatyn Home Bargains branches – both themselves former Woolies sites. Indeed, the [...]

  10. Soult's Retail View » Blog Archive » Bishop Auckland Boyes to open doors on 19 November said:

    Nov 08, 10 at 18:44

    [...] in expanding into Northumberland – coming close to opening a shop in Prudhoe – and Tyneside. With its eclectic, 30,000-strong product range – including household goods, DIY, clothing, [...]

  11. Soult's Retail View » Blog Archive » Belper’s fine mix of supermarkets and indie retailers said:

    Jan 06, 11 at 23:30

    [...] the North East Woolies sites in Hexham and Morpeth, Belper was one of the first stores to be taken over by another retailer, as part of the package of [...]

  12. Soult's Retail View » Readers’ ex-Woolies updates from Harrow and Finchley Road said:

    Apr 17, 11 at 21:01

    [...] sites at the end of 2008, including one proclaiming ’70% off’ (as also seen in my photo of the Whitley Bay store, taken five days earlier) and another announcing the store’s ‘Last 3 [...]

  13. Soult's Retail View » 5-7 Southgate Street, Launceston – historic birthplace and former Woolworths said:

    May 17, 11 at 16:34

    [...] new stores in these locations – like Launceston, Alnwick (#822, above) or Hexham (#931) – tended to occupy existing buildings. However, prior to Woolworths moving in, few [...]

  14. Soult's Retail View » Next and New Look open up in Perth’s former Woolworths premises said:

    Nov 25, 11 at 21:01

    [...] partly due to my fairly sporadic visits – Perth’s Woolworths has some significance as one of the first that I photographed, back in February 2009, just a few weeks after Woolworths’ demise. Former Woolworths, Perth [...]

  15. Soult's Retail View » On the hunt for ex-Woolies – and thriving high streets – in the Scottish Borders said:

    Jan 27, 12 at 21:20

    [...] grey shopfront, echoing the investment that it’s made in other former Woolies sites such as Tamworth, Berwick-upon-Tweed (below) and Prestatyn. Former Woolworths (now Home Bargains), [...]

  16. Soult's Retail View » Woolaballoo.com and Deli at Number 4: Hexham’s new breed of web-savvy independents said:

    Jul 01, 12 at 23:29

    [...] ex-Heron Foods site and Mountain Warehouse occupying the former Stead & Simpson. Meanwhile, Hexham’s ex-Woolworths in Fore Street was one of the first to be snapped up by Iceland in January 2009, just days after Woolies’ [...]


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