The Woolworths Museum


A new store every seventeen days

Every day during the 1920s nomination letters were received at Woolworth's headquarters in London, suggesting a town where the chain should open. Company bosses were keen to oblige and accelerated their expansion plans. They set ambitious targets for their teams of Construction Workers and paid generous bonus if they were achieved.

Like a well-oiled machine, the in-house gangs of bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters and shopfitters could transform a brown-field site into a new F. W. Woolworth store in under seven weeks. Most builds followed the same basic design, adapted to suit the site. But sometimes the Architects expected something altogether more elaborate, to blend in with the streetscapes of historic towns and cities. On this page we show some of the finer stores opened during the Roaring Twenties.

 

The flagship Woolworth store in Scotland in Princes Street, Edinburgh, which opened in 1926F. W. Woolworth in Terminus Road, Eastbourne, which opened in 1924

^Terminus Road, Eastbourne, Sussex (No. 172 - 1924)
Princess Street, Edinburgh (No. 213 - opened 1926) >

 

The F. W. Woolworth store in St. James's Street, Burnley, Lancashire, which opened in 1924The F. W. Woolworth store in Spurriergate, York, which opened in 1924. The building was sold for redevelopment in the early 2000s

^Spurriergate, York (No. 171, 1924)
St James's Street, Burnley, Lancs (No. 160, 1924) >
 

 

A long view of the F. W. Woolworth store in High Street, Lincoln, with the Cathedral in the backgroundA close up of the F. W. Woolworth store in High Street, Lincoln (No. 156), adjacent to the Stonebow

<^ The property team had to adapt the standard store styling to secure
permission to build in the historic City of Lincoln (No. 156, 1924)

 

Weymouth in Devon (No. 139) and Kensington High Street in West London (No. 162) , which opened in 1923 and 1924 respectively

 

The premier 1920s stores were finished in portland stone. Their ornate look weas nicknamed the "cinema front". Shown are the team from Weymouth, Dorset in 1923, and the popular West London branch in Kensington High Street on its opening day in 1924.

 

Opening announcement for the new store at Redhill Surrey (No 164) in 1924Opening advertisement for the High Street, Uxbridge, Woolworth store (No. 370) in 1929

Each store opening was spectacular. The celebrations featured an orchestra or a marching band, fireworks and even circus performers. Most storefronts were draped with flags and bunting to add to the razzamatazz. Bosses knew that a big launch would draw a huge crowd, and that many of the day's visitors would later add a trip to the new FWW to their regular shopping habits.

 

There were extra bargains specially for the opening day. The goal was to supply enough stock to last through until the end of the first weekend of trading. Among the favourite 'specials' in the Twenties were large enamel or stainless steel bath tubs, preserving pans for jam-making or nine carat genuine gold rings. Each was offered for sixpence. Customers were only allowed one each. There was also a special selection of sweets for a penny. Free miniature music postcards promoting the record department were another favourite.