Hartlepool and Middlesbrough’s still-vacant Woolies sites
While visiting Billingham yesterday, I also managed to fit in stops in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. In Hartlepool, there is no sign of the large empty Woolies site in Middleton Grange’s Central Square (store #322) – previously photographed here – being reoccupied. However, a British Heart Foundation furniture shop has opened up in what was historically – prior to 1990 – part of the shopping centre’s Woolworths store.
When Middleton Grange opened – originally as an open-air shopping centre – Woolworths was one of its anchor tenants, with a prominent frontage to Victory Square. 100thBirthday.co.uk has a shot from 1970 that clearly shows this entrance, taken from almost the same spot as my shot above.
However, just as many of the largest Woolies stores were closed or downsized in the 1980s, I understand that the Hartlepool Woolies was reduced in size in 1990, with the British Heart Foundation and Peacocks both now occupying parts of the space that Woolworths vacated back then.
Like Hartlepool, nothing seems to be happening with Middlesbrough’s old Woolies store (#1200) either. Value retailer Waremart took a temporary lease on the Hillstreet unit in April last year, and was trading from the site when I first visited back in September 2009.
However, Waremart had closed by the time I returned in January this year – presumably linked to its difficulties reported elsewhere – and the site remains empty now.
Meanwhile, Woolworths lives on in Middlesbrough as far as the sign around the back is concerned. Given the message that the sign conveys – “here is a long empty unit we haven’t let yet” – perhaps the Hillstreet management will decide to take it down eventually?