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Newmarket Local History Society (page 6)

The Changing Face of Newmarket

1. The Rise and Fall of Woolworths in Newmarket

The first F W Woolworth store appeared in the UK (Liverpool) in 1909, coming from the USA where the name was well established. Soon Woolworth stores were spreading to towns all over the country - the Newmarket store arrived in the mid 1920s
Known as 'F W Woolworth & Co Ltd. 3d and 6d Store' it very successfully sold a variety of cheap goods displayed on open counters so that they could be handled by customers, at a time when most shops kept their goods out of reach and only touchable by asking an assistant.

Woolworths perservered with their 3d and 6d policy through the 1930s and overcame the problem of selling more expensive articles by breaking them down into parts. A small bakerlite camera, for instance, consisted of several parts each costing 6d, a teapot might have cost 6d for the pot and 3d for the lid.
Hard up housewives relied on 'Woollies', as it was affectionally known, for many of their household items while their menfolk would pore over cheap tools, screws, batteries or cycle parts. Children of the thirties will particularly remember the exciting gaudily painted tinplate toys, mostly imported from Japan. 'A tanner from Woolies' came to describe anything bought cheaply.

Woolworths continued to prosper after WW II and introduced their own brand of clothing known as 'Winfield', after their founder Frank Winfield Woolworth. Another Woolies special was their Embassy brand of cheap gramophone records, using non-original artists.

By the latter half of the 20th century they were meeting increasing competition from other shops selling cut price goods.
Their luck finally ran out at the end of 2008, when Woolworths went into receivership. The Newmarket store, so much a part of the town for more than 80 years, finally bowed down to changing consumer buying habits and strong competition.

Thus reproduction from an early guide book clearly shows
F W Woolworths & Co Ltd existing in 1925 when the picture was taken.

Woolworths in its heyday - an early thirties scene

In the late 1950s, when this picture was taken, Woolworths Newmarket employed a large staff, mostly young women counter assistants.
Photo from the Peter Norman collection

The last days of Woolworths, December 2008

January 2nd 2009. The end. Woolworths Newmarket is no more

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