From High Street Ken to High Holborn – more of London’s long-lost Woolies

Graham Soult

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

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25 Responses

  1. Stuart says:

    No problem Graham… Glad you found it! I’ve just found your site and its fascinating. As a former Woolworths employee of many years service I remember so many of these locations. Thank you so much!

  2. Stuart says:

    Hi, store 175 in Tottenham Court Road was at 20/21 Tottenham Court Road and closed in 1970. Hope that helps.

  3. Gabriella Coscia says:

    There was a woolworths in Wood Green Shopping City in the mall opened a few years ago and is now New Look. Wood Green isn’t that great for shopping a number of retailers have gone over the years including Burger King, Currys, Currys Digital, House of Fraser what was then DH Evans when it closed in 1995 and a few others. Basically Wood Green is tatty.

  4. Jonathan Carling says:

    Wow – thanks. The internet is a wonderful thing!!

  5. John says:

    I worked in Wood Green from mid 1973 to mid 1974. The Wood Green Shopping City had not yet been built and there was a lot of derelict land that remained after the closure and removal of the railway line that had run from Severn Sisters to Palace Gates.

    Woolworths was at that time next door to Marks and Spencers on Wood Green High Road. It can be seen in the street view image and comprised what is obviously the initial store (although I doubt whether that frontage was the original from 1913) which is now Dorothy Perkins and half of Sainsburys, but had been extended sideways to include what is the rest of Sainsburys and the UCKG entrance.

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?client=firefox-a&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.592409,-0.105733&spn=0.000723,0.002411&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=51.592333,-0.105624&panoid=3oBVpS5vqxzn4OL71SWpsg&cbp=12,71,,0,-4.27

    It was also extended sideways behind the shops up to the Dovecote Avenue junction and there was a separate entrance that can be seen in this view, below futher development, down that remnant of the side turning. (The frontage is on the extreme right of this view).

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?client=firefox-a&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.592561,-0.105958&spn=0.000365,0.001206&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=51.592561,-0.105958&panoid=jWSH_Pc6op7tOcERPv3H1A&cbp=12,74.38,,0,-4.14

    The major side extension (I think the front had already been extended sideways) round the back was constructed during my year working in the area and on the day it opened the entire pavement area in that last view, including all of that side road was packed with customers queueing to get in.

  6. Graham Soult says:

    Hi Jon – good to hear from you!

    There definitely was an old Woolworths in Wood Green – it was store #26, giving it an opening date of 1913.

    More recently, there was a new store – #1240 – within The Mall Wood Green, which closed following Woolies’ collapse and is now New Look.

    However, I know nothing else about store #26 – when it closed, what is became, or what it is now. John, who’s a regular contributor to this blog, makes a reference at http://www.soultsretailview.co.uk/2010/05/28/finding-old-woolworths-stores-in-unlikely-places-courtesy-of-the-new-bond/#comment-2497 to remembering the Wood Green branch, so maybe he can shed some more light on the subject!

  7. Jonathan Carling says:

    Hi Graham – remember working with you when I was at NERIP and you at Northumbria Uni a few years back. In the 1980s I lived in North London and was told that there had been a Woolies in Wood Green, in what was then the Habitat store. Don’t suppose anyone can confirm that?

  8. Gabriella Coscia says:

    West Ealing Graham, there is nothing there the area has really declined over the last decade as Ealing itself has because of Westfield White City.

    Once upon a time, Marks and Spencer had a West Ealing branch, WH Smith, MCdonald’s Burtons even Poundland shut down there because they could not sustain the store.

    Ealing itself lost Bentalls (Fenwicks) to Beale’s to Primark.

    Most of Arcadia’s stores closed to go in White City and Ealing is really a former shadow of itself for retail. Far better to go to Kingston, White City or even Richmond these days.

  9. John says:

    Whilst poking around, I came across the following page which shows a 1950′s view down Oxford Street.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/allhails/2878223569/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    The second Woolworths branch is the shop on the other side of the road that is in between the taxi and the bus.

    That page is a linked from the following where there are some comments relating to the Woolworths branches in Oxford Street.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/allhails/2878223569/

    The next thing is whether there was a branch in Tottenham Court Road. Some say there was (where Paper Chase now are) but others say there never was.

    It is also interesting and ironic to note that the Foot Locker store in Oxford Street (Foot Locker are the US Woolworths Company) is actually located in what was the HMV building.

    • Graham Soult says:

      Excellent finds John!

      Incidentally (and as I’ve added to the discussion on Flickr), I *do* have a record of there being a Tottenham Court Road branch of Woolworths. It was store #175, and there’s a reference to it the December 1958 issue of The New Bond that I have a copy of. It’s just a line in the ‘Changes and Appointments’ section of the magazine, listing a Mr R W Parratt, who was the manager of 175 TCR, as having moved to become manager of store #602 in Norbury.

      So, now we know that there definitely was a TCR store, we’ll have to keep an eye open for any old photos that might indicate where it was!

  10. Graham Soult says:

    Excellent! Thanks John :)

  11. John says:

    The “other” Oxford Street branch of Woolworths was at 150 Oxford Street (towards the Tottenham Court Road direction), facing Poland Street.

    It is now occupied by HMV

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?client=firefox-a&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.515752,-0.137667&spn=0.000773,0.003433&z=19&layer=c&cbll=51.51562,-0.137657&panoid=nj5ExVm5w8BRGc3Le_ONWg&cbp=12,339.5,,0,-12.65

  12. Graham Soult says:

    Hi Gabriella,

    Many thanks indeed for those insights, particularly with regard to the Holborn branch! I’d missed the part around the side, so will have to check that out next time.

    I’ve been to the Victoria branch already – see http://www.soultsretailview.co.uk/2010/10/08/londons-lost-woolies-flagships/. The Strand one is already on my list of ones to get – I’d probably have gone there last week, but I wanted to avoid getting swallowed up by all the students converging on Trafalgar Square!

    The Oxford Street store that you describe as being opposite House of Fraser is the one that I went to, and photographed above, but it’s really interesting to hear of its succession of occupants over the years. I’ve just added an extra photo, showing its position in relation to the other side of the street. Have you any idea where the second (presumably smaller) Oxford Street Woolies was? If the flagship was in the middle section of the street, I’d imagine that the other was at one of the street’s ends (i.e. towards Marble Arch or Tottenham Court Road).

  13. Gabriella Coscia says:

    One more thing,

    Woolworths in Holborn isn’t a new built it is just recladded, it’s the same building because Reed Employment and Robert Dyas were trading at the same locations when Woolworths was open.

    THe Oxford Street branch of Woolworths is near Oxford Circus opposite House of Fraser and near to Debenhams Department store – basically the middle section of Oxford Street with the highest footfall

  14. Gabriella Coscia says:

    Oh and I did want to say the reason why it is recladded the building and not rebuilt because the Reed Employment Agency was trading when Woolworth’s was open as was Robert Dyas so it is the original Woolworth’s building it’s just been recladded ( Holborn branch) so hope this helps you.

  15. Gabriella Coscia says:

    Hi there,

    I lived in Holborn and remember the Woolworths there.

    You do have the right location however what you may not realise is that there were two entrances to Woolworth’s in Holborn the other side is in Gray’s Inn Road round the corner that part of the building was kept and is now an Argos Extra store and has been since Woolworth’s closed.

    The part that was rebuilt, wasn’t rebuilt as such only recladded as flats above and the ground floor was split in to units for Clinton Cards, Thorntons and originally Richards.

    Richards is or was Dorothy Perkins the last time I was up there, Clintons is now Holland and Barrett and the Argos is opposite a former Next Women’s branch which recently closed.

    Regarding the Oxford Street branch, after Woolworths closed it became a branch of DP and Burton’s that gave way to Tesco Metro over two floors, then Waterstone’s before becoming JD Sports before becoming Uniqlo.

    There was also a Woolworths in the Strand and a huge one in Victoria. The Victoria branch became Argos and a pub by JD Wetherspoons and still retains the original Woolies metal framedoors for the emergency exits. The Victoria Woolworths is opposite Victoria Railway Station the Strand store was is a brnach of Boots near to Aldwych

  16. John says:

    The City of London Guildhall Public Reference Library has an extensive collection of historic London and national telephone, trade and street directories going back to the late 19th century, and that might be a good place to find or verify addresses of old Woolworths branches.

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