Hartlepool and Middlesbrough’s still-vacant Woolies sites
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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.
When Middleton Grange opened – originally as an open-air shopping centre – Woolworths was one of its anchor tenants, with a frontage also to Victory Square. 100thBirthday.co.uk has a shot from 1970 that appears to shows a similar view to mine from last year (above), before the mall gained a roof and escalators replaced the ramp.
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 Peacocks now occupying part 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?