Stockton’s original Woolies – and the current state of the town’s High Street

Graham Soult

Retail consultant, writer, blogger; helping retailers via and Say hello on Twitter at @soult!

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8 Responses

  1. Sarah.L says:

    As awful as this might sound, I feel Stockton high street has gone downhill, ever since 2002. It was much more convenient, when the Post Office was already where it used to be. Why should anyone have to walk through WHSmith, to get to the post office? The post office should be it’s own thing. Just as it was, until Stockton Council decided to move it into WHSmith, which really doesn’t make much sense. I’m not to keen on Wellington Square. Too many crowds. Too narrow. My opinion of Castlegate Shopping Centre, isn’t exactly positive either. Sorry to say, but I’d rather shop elsewhere. Anywhere else in Teeside. Too many takeaways, charity shops, and coffee shops. It might as well be the pits of hell.

  2. Mandy Wood says:

    I like the picture of what is now a bingo venue with a sculpture above, (ex Althams). I remember at school in the 50’s being asked to find out which (the only one) store in the High Street was single story. This was it. I thought I could remember it being a Sparks cafe? On to Woolworths… I really didn’t believe such an iconic and well loved chain would go bust… and was sorry to see it go. As a child, I particularly liked the branch in Whitby Yorkshire (now an outdoor store) which you go in the ground floor, up the stairs and come out onto another road. Mandy

  3. antony little says:

    those are some pretty nice pictures of stockon well done!

  4. john says:

    Further to the above comments about temporary lets, it looks like alworths has that sort of arrangement at their Amersham branch.


  5. John says:

    There is a bit of a similarity between old Woolworths premises and disused railways. In some cases, it is obvious years or decades afetr the closure, in other cases, if you look carefully you can spot it, in other cases you would never know.

    At the time that Woolworths failed, property commentators predicted that 500 shops could stand empty for years. Latest reports are that 300 are empty and that 150 of those might never see retail use again.


    I suspect that if you factor in landlords letting stores on terms that are adverse from their own point of view just to avoid paying the rates, and temporary lets to tenants they would once have turned their noses up at, the 500 figure is possibly not that far off the mark.

    At the time of demerger, it was said that almost all of the roughly 200 freeholds that Woolworths still owned were sold and leased back on excessive rents in order to release capital on property that was posssibly otherwise unsellable.

    Perhaps those 200 mentioned above loosely correspond to sites now considered wothless in retail terms.

    It would be an interesting exercise, if possible, to calculate what Woolworths financial position would have been at the end of 2008, had they been demerged owning those shops and without the debt that they started off with.

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