Photo gallery: more former Woolies around the UK (part 2 – North Wales)
Last 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 pleased to present another collection, this time from my visit to North Wales back in September.
In Wales, I did pretty well to capture six old Woolies stores in the space of six days. First up is Holyhead, above, a town that, back in February, reportedly had a 39% retail vacancy rate.
Holyhead is just the kind of place where the closure of Woolies has left a really big hole. Though there is a Wilkinson on one of the out-of-town retail parks, I couldn’t spot any department store or good quality variety store in the town centre – just the type of gap that a store like Alworths could hopefully fill in the future.
It’s particularly unfortunate that the shut-up Woolworths in Holyhead is directly opposite another large, empty and very forlorn-looking unit, formerly occupied by Kwik Save - a chain whose heartland was in North Wales. Though slightly off topic for a blog post about Woolworths, I also took a picture of the Kwik Save store for posterity, given that it’s quite unusual now to see an old Kwik Save store – particularly one in such a prominent location – that hasn’t been taken over by another retailer.
I did find Holyhead to be a town of two halves – though walking up the main street was quite a depressing experience, there are obvious signs of recent investment. Most notably, the Celtic Gateway bridge - opened in October 2006, and linking Market Street to the ferry terminal and railway station - is stunning (albeit, for a Tynesider, oddly reminiscent of something else), and incidentally provides an excellent vantage point for photographing the back of the old Woolworths store.
Elsewhere in my journeys around North Wales, the stories of the old Woolies stores that I came across were generally more positive. Colwyn Bay was (and as far as I know still is) empty; however, the property is supposedly being actively marketed[broken link removed], is a good-looking building compared to many other Woolies, and benefits from being in a surprisingly lively and attractive town centre. Given these positives, I would be surprised if the unit wasn’t snapped up before long.
Just along the coast, the old Woolworths stores in Rhyl and Prestatyn are both now occupied. Rhyl’s is a B&M Bargains, though I was pleased to see that the building’s history is unlikely to be forgotten for as long as the large letters spelling out ‘WOOLWORTHS’ remain in the second-floor windows.
The store in Prestatyn, meanwhile, is now Home Bargains, featuring a similar, grey and burgundy fascia to that of the new Tamworth store. Once again, Home Bargains has done a good job of enhancing the building’s appearance with a surprisingly attractive new shopfront.
In the delightful seaside town of Llandudno, the old Woolies looks to have undergone a minimal makeover to become a a Publishers Book Clearance store.
I’m sure that there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere – either Publisher’s or Publishers’ could work, depending on how many publishers are doing the clearing – but the business appears not to use one. On that basis, let’s hope the store offers Lynne Truss’ Eats Shoots & Leaves among its available titles.
Finally, in Porthmadog, I was able to get a photo of The Original Factory Shop, which has taken over the town’s former Woolworths site.
Getting closer up, notice the little square icon on the entrance doors, divided into red and white triangles. Hurray that a little bit of Woolies lives on in North Wales!
Believe it or not, I still have photos of five more old Woolworths, all up here in the North East, that I haven’t featured yet. Looks like I’d better get on with Part 3…