Woolies photo updates from South Shields, Wallsend, Jarrow and North Shields
While out and about on my recent travels, I’ve revisited – often just in passing – some of the former Tyneside Woolies sites that I’ve blogged about in the past. Though the number of empty sites is now dwindling, there are still a few interesting updates to report upon.
There’s no apparent movement on the empty half of South Shields’ former Woolworths (#104), while the Wallsend store (#351) – previously blogged about here – is now empty again. The premises reopened, to much fanfare, as Well Worth It back in October 2009, but the business has closed down after less than a year.
I can’t help thinking that Wallsend’s supermarket travails may have impacted upon Well Worth It’s viability, given that the town centre is still without a major supermarket after the Co-op in the nearby Forum Shopping Centre closed and Morrisons failed (as yet) to open in its place.
Unfortunately, the Wallsend store is one that the Co-operative Group disposed of to Morrisons voluntarily, rather than being one of the 133 shops that it was required to divest following its takeover of Somerfield. Had the latter been the case, one imagines that the OFT would have had something to say about a two-year hiatus between one store closing and its approved replacement opening. Meanwhile, campaigners are rightly putting pressure on both Morrisons and North Tyneside Council to bring the supermarket back into use.
Wallsend’s Woolworths lives on, incidentally, in the vaguely amusing artwork at Wallsend Metro station, where panels – predating Woolies’ demise – feature photographs of apparently familiar local scenes. The twist is that all the wording in the photographs – including the Woolies fascia – has been translated into Latin, as a play on Wallsend’s Roman heritage.
One location with a bit more success Woolies-wise – and with an already thriving Morrisons – is Jarrow, where Store Twenty One moved into part of the town’s former Woolworths store (#434), facing Bede Precinct, back in July. Just as in Stanley, Store Twenty One has installed a modern and attractive shopfront that greatly improves the shop’s external appearance, as well as undertaking a comprehensive revamp of the interior.
With Store Twenty One taking only 4,112 sq ft of the old Woolies site (the full Bede Precinct frontage and about half the store’s depth), the remaining 3,175 sq ft portion of the store, facing Grange Road, remains to let.
A 1962 shot in Paul Perry’s fascinating Jarrow Through Time book shows the Woolworths frontage to Grange Road, with the building that housed it looking only slightly different to how it does today. A couple of doors away, Perry’s photo shows that the premises which until recently housed the Discount Store 24 supermarket were formerly Fine Fare – like Woolworths, another once familiar but now defunct high street name.
Final stop for now is North Shields, where Cramlington Textiles Superstore was already open on the former Woolies site (#426) when I visited nearly a year ago.
It’s still there, but has had a minor change of name to MIS Wallcoverings & Textiles Superstore. Perhaps shoppers were perplexed by a shop in North Shields having Cramlington in its name? Still, the change makes some sense given the wide range of paint and wallpaper, as well as textiles, that I remarked upon after my last visit.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is this old c.1930 postcard that I discovered, showing an almost identical view to the one above. The tall building in the middle with the arched window is instantly recognisable in both shots, but look closely at the Woolworths building… between 1930 and now, what on earth has happened to the property’s second floor? It’s there in the earlier shot, but missing today.
Perhaps someone out there can tell us what us happened to it? Whatever the reason, it does begin to explain the building’s slightly curious flat roof, which has always seemed rather at odds with its quite elegant (if truncated) façade.