Mystery of Shields Road ‘Woolies’ building solved
Since I first blogged about it just over a year ago under the heading ‘Is this shop in Shields Road, Byker an old Woolies?’, the history of the building in question at 47-49 Shields Road (pictured above) has prompted quite a discussion – but, until now, no definitive answer.
In the course of the discussions, we have already established that Byker *did* have a Woolworths prior to the most recent incarnation (store #1256) at Newcastle Shopping Park. However, this was located further up Shields Road at number 63, in premises occupied by Decorflair until just a few weeks ago.
Through reader contributions, we knew that Woolies had traded from that site since at least 1963, while an old newspaper cutting from Newcastle’s Local Studies Library revealed that the store closed on 1 June 1985.
However, none of this explained Byker Woolworths’ store number being 276. As I’ve noted before, each new Woolies store had a unique store number, with the first store (Liverpool, in 1910) given the number 1, and subsequent numbers allocated (usually) in chronological order. On this basis, 276 suggested an opening date of August or September 1927, raising the question of whether Byker’s Woolies had indeed occupied a different site prior to the Decorflair building.
Now, Brian E Clark seems to have come up with the answer:
Your question… (was this a Woolies shop) It certainly was! I am 70 years old, and spent the first 23 years of my life living in the Old Byker of 178 Kendal Street. I can remember that the shop front was re-set back from the building line on the left side of the frontage 3 or 4 feet… The shop moved further up Shields Road as you know, but this must have been in the late 50s early 60s. I do not remember it having an upstairs for the public.
So, there we have it – confirmation, it would seem, that the building at 47-49 Shields Road was indeed a purpose-built Woolworths, probably moving to the new location at number 63 sometime between the late 1950s and 1963. [UPDATE: Woolworths records now confirm that the relocation took place in 1954.]
Many thanks indeed to Brian for providing the missing piece of information, and to everyone else who has contributed to this particular discussion so far. Thanks to George Tullin and Peter, we already have a shot of number 63 in use as a Woolworths; all we need now is to find an old photograph depicting the original (47-49 Shields Road) Byker Woolies in all its glory – something that has, as yet, eluded me.