Woolworths are required in their town in whatever space is available, and our goods are required by the people

Plymouth Store No.56


" Woolworths in Plymouth during the Blitz of 1941"

"looking up" - a Jerry flies over - an alert is on - but the crate still has to be unpacked

another Steve Johnson "content over style" heritage web page

e-mail Steve Johnson

An old photograph album was found recently in a car boot sale. It was sold for 10 and must be a bargain. Sadly it was not sold to me but a friend of mine...who then moved away. Thus I was not able to obtain good scans of these images. However my friend has "videoed" the prints and sent a tape to be. Through the magic of a video capture card I have produce these stills which I hope you will enjoy.

The photos appear to be the handiwork of a Mr. Ronald Bowen who was the Manager of:

Plymouth 56, F W Woolworth and Co. Ltd. 1941

"Looking through this book in 1941 may prove uninteresting as it is common knowledge that Plymouth was badly blitzed and nearly all Plymouth traders had to "make-shift", but in 1961 if this book survives future air raids, I hope it will prove educational and of interest especially to F W Woolworth employees" Ronald Bowen, Manager

Store no. 56, Old Town Street, after the first night of the blitz F W Woolworth still stands

Store No.56 after the demolition teams had made what was left, safe (same site 10.10.42, note white bands on lamposts for identification in blackout)

Looking up Old Town Street toward the Guinness clock, after first night

Further up Old Town Street, F W Woolworth still standing..."x" marks the spot

Firemen at work

Rear of store; the morning after - 22nd. April 1941

View of same part of store after site levelled by demolition workers October 42, looking up Old Town Street

F W Woolworth site on right, looking across Old Town Street, caption says "note twisted girders"

Looking down from Guinness clock along Old Town Street, F W Woolworth site marked with "x" on right

Spooners Corner and a little to the left

Plymouth 56 still standing....the lift shaft......

the air raid shelters survived the onslaught, but were later damaged during demolition

...and so to the new site.....a sign tells the shopper that F W Woolworth are now at Plymouth Market, 3rd. and 4th. avenue

looking down on the old site of F W Woolworth from the top of this building marked "*" in this photo, "x" lower down shows the old site of F W Woolworth

F W Woolworth was first of three firms to set up in the "make-shift" Plymouth Market

this opening advert ran for 3 nights in the local press

Oct. 10th. 1941, 8.30am - "putting the final touches; this quiet period was used for final checking of prices. Note piled up display of biscuits behind screened counter, this counter was used for weighing up biscuits in advance of quick service"

9.30am - "it won`t be long now; the public were prohibited from the centre gangway until opening time at 10am. Note piled up display of biscuits bagged up on right of centre counter also sweets near gangway, note also empty stalls around not yet occupied but soon to be now we`re here"

10am - "open at last; note scramble for enamelware. Miss Uren BSP( what is this..Steve Johnson is stumped...???? sales person?) giving assistance by serving jellies, sauces, cheeses and cereals attracts the crows around the centre counter at end of centre gangway. Note Mr. J. L. Farmer, Assistant District Manager, Mr. H. Wimbourne (Wimborn or Wimborne) Construction Supervisor, Mr. Blackborn (Blackburn or Blackborne or Blackbourne) Construction Forman "These men are not in this image

a general overview


the F W Woolworth store at 39, Tavistock Place

the store is an ordinary street house, note unremoved railings and chute for handling goods

"express service - 1 horse power. We hire the above at 2/6d an hour"

"crates unpacked in the street"

"....a biscuit load"

"progress; the van is covered"

"returning from the market"

"urgent stock is needed at the market"

"view from the office window"...note the brick built surface air raid shelters in front of the back of the museum and central library

the office

...further progress...a letter from the Metropolitan District Office "by arrangement with Mr. Britain, Mr. Duncan is today delivering to you Ford van DXR 750 lately the property of Store 161, Oxford Street" 1.....2......3......4 (parked in front of rear bay window of museum)

"the railings are removed by the local council for salvage. Some people complain, we do not. We can now unpack crates off the roadway"

"looking up" - "a Jerry flies over - an alert is on - but the crate still has to be unpacked"

[ as seen today, forgive my clumsy artwork to show where no.39 should be. No. 40 is still there...1.......2......3.....]

Sweet rationing is introduced; how will it work?

"last day of coupon free sweets"

"queue extends from our sweet counter out through the market gates to the end of Drake Street" 1......2....

"the last of our stock is on sale"....1......2......3....

"the last coupon free customers - and rightly they should be the forces"

Staff Dance and Invitation Card

It was held at The Duke of Cornwall Hotel on Oct. 7th. 1942, from 7pm to 11pm, tickets 3/-, informal dress preferred, and by the way...it`s PRIVATE!

Store 69 at Devonport, Plymouth, after being blitzed

Store 69 in it`s temporary home at Devonport

looking across the former site of British Home Stores at Devonport, now laid waste by enemy action to the similarly blitzed site of F W Woolworth. Here are two photographs taken inside....Store 69...1......2....

Plymouth on Fire, 21st. March 1941

George Street from Bedford Street

looking down George Street

top of Frankfurt Street and Cornwall Street

bottom of Frankfurt Street and King Street showing Co-Op and Methodist Chapel on fire

whole of centre of Plymouth on fire looking from York Street

early stages of Coster`s fire

Coster`s ablaze

final stages of Coster`s fire, Frankfurt Street

view of end of Russell Street; Prudential Building at left showing Coster`s on fire

Frankfort Street, Coster`s front wall crashing

The Western Morning News premises on fire

the morning after....1.....2.....3......

the area of Bedford Street, Catherine Street and Basket Street, the arrows show that the spire is now missing from the top of the Prudential Building and a figure missing of the post by the railings


other Plymouth shops forced to "make-shift" in the market

Marks and Spencer (house and home goods, department store)...1.......2.....3...

Boots (chemist and home goods)


Costers (clothing and general department store)

Magnet Restaurant

Dolcis Shoes

J. Lyons and Co. (bakers and catering)

Timothy Whites and Taylor (hardware and home and gardens)

who`s selling "Cultbert`s Seeds?"

the destroyed Drake Street - "who`d have thought it could be turned into...."

Drake Street outdoor stalls. It seems that wartime does not stop thieves! (from a Drapers Record of the time)

the "market office" and a plea for waste paper - bring your own bags!


we see where the author of this fine work lived:

Ron Bowen

50, Colesdown Hill, Billacombe, Plymouth, Telephone 48300

to end on, a letter enclosed with the photos; re: Plymouth Market

"I want to take this opportunity of congratulating you and the men responsible on the wonderful sales obtained on the opening two days. Without going into details we know there was a little dubious feeling as to what could be done in the small amount of space available, and coupled with the fact that the general run of retailers did not take kindly to our opening up in the market, it did look as though we have possibly something not too desirable and in the fact of the opening figures however, all these ideas are dispelled and we have evidently proved to the authorities that Woolworths are required in their town in whatever space is available, and our goods are required by the people. It is a fine effort and everything should be done to keep this experiment up to the mark"

Yours very truly

L. Deniport H.C.(H.G.?)

Woolworths are required in their town in whatever space is available, and our goods are required by the people

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