The ghost of Woolworth's
Woolworth's in Carr Street once
had a store in keeping with their 1950s livery and appearance. It is
visible at the far right in this photograph of crowds awaiting the
Queen's motorcade during a royal visit to open Civic College in July
courtesy The Ipswich Society
One can just make out the art deco upper storey, so it would
have looked a little like this:
NOT the Ipswich store
The deep red background with shaped gold lettering in serif'd
large-and-small caps looks back to Victorian shop-fronts and forward to
the more 'commercial' sans-serif caps of the sixties and seventies.
We assume that this version of the store had a basement; when it
was torn down, a larger brutalist block store was built on the site: 26-32 Carr Street.
Many will recall visiting Woolworth's basement and ground floor spaces,
but in the way of mis-management and being bought and sold by companies
who didn't know what to do with the chain, eventually the basement
space was blocked up and then the whole national chain went bust just
after Christmas in 2007 with the loss of 27,000 jobs.
The rear of the building is on the car parking area of tarmac
stretching from the Tacket Street entrance up to Cox Lane. This is the
area which was once the site of the Steam Brewery built by Charles
Cullingham; the Steam Brewery Inn on Upper Brook Street – with the
alleyway by the Can-Can bag shop – was so-named after the takeover by
Tollemache (after 1887). The shadow of the screwed-on
"WOOLWORTH'S"lettering can be seen above the original rear entrance to
the store (a few steps up to the ground floor, a few steps down to the
basement floor). What a bleak elevation, leveaned only by a glance to
the east to see the rear of the disused Co-op.
The true glory of the cheap and cheerful emporium
that was Woolworth's of the 50s and 60s (see also Nanci Griffith's
brilliant song Love at the
five-and-dime) is now a
pound shop with, at one time, a 99p store in the basement. Bliss.
A pound??? American, Frank Woolworth's, original British store
and its successors were known not only for their scrubbed wooden
gas lighting but also for their 3d and 6d (threepenny and sixpenny)
items. So: the
original Poundland, then. In their homeland, they were
five and ten cents stores, hence 'the five-and-dime'
Frank Woolworth's middle name was Winfield,
so the brand name for all 'own brand' products sold in the shops was
On the other side of the car park is the rear of the Christ Church Congregational Church.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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