Top Picture: The last six days of Woolworths in Cosham High Street
Second Picture: Southsea Woolies
Over the years I think that I have only recommended one book to you all and that was ‘Babycham Night’ as it dealt with a young lad’s life as he lived with his father who ran the dancehall on the end of Ryde Pier in the early 1960’s. But I am now going to recommend another book, ‘The Wonder of Woolies’ by Derek Phillips, memories from both sides of the counter. Even though this book deals with Woolworth stores all over the country, our local one in 29-31 in Cosham High Street gets quite a few mentions as do the London Road, Commercial Road, Havant, Gosport and Southsea stores but strangely there is only a passing reference to the Fareham store.
This book takes you on a real wander down memory lane. There are certain things that the customers all seemed to remember, the Pick & Mix counter, the slabs of Sharps toffee with the little silver hammer, the sweet scales which would measure out 1oz of your favourite sweets and the packs of broken biscuits. Embassy records, Christmas decorations and presents, Easter Eggs and being able to buy a yard of material, a pack of buttons and in the homewear department Fablon by the foot, single fuses, brackets and nails, bulb holders and switches.
The electrical counter was the bain of the shop girl’s life as every light bulb had to be tested before being sold as did all the electrical fuses and the testing machine was always very temperamental.
Now looking at the Cosham store who remembers some of these products Woolies sold. Fresh fruit, plants and rose trees, hot salted peanuts, (they were only kept hot by an electric light bulb underneath the display until and this was turned off every night so the nuts were never really very hot), toys, dolls, airfix models at the very end of the store. Here in Woolworths our mothers bought baby clothes and medical requisites and we bough toy guns, skipping ropes, dolls and cowboy outfits. For many years Woolworths was the place to go to buy lampshades and in the middle of the store was a large counter with lampshades displayed from an overhead rack as well as on the counter.
One of the most popular counters with the girls was the make up counter where one of the displays was always Rimmel products whose slogan was ‘ Beauty on a budget tray’ and my wife informs me Revlon was also another popular brand on sale. Another popular item were fragrances and I think we can all remember someone buying ‘Evening in Paris’ or ‘Tweed’ or the like.
Cigarettes and tobacco was also another mainstay of the stores turnover and just inside the door was the tobacco counter selling all makes of cigars, cigarettes, pipes, pipe cleaners, matches lighters (petrol no gas lighters in the 1950’s) and even snuff. Here you could buy your Dad a pipe rack for Christmas or his birthday.
One of the other seasonal counters were fireworks and as kids we could only stand and stare at the Catherine Wheels, Sky Rockets, Twisters, Golden Rain and coloured matches. Only stand and look as we were too young to buy any of the products.
The look of the store was distinctive and it was the corporate look across the whole of the country. The red facia board with the bright gold lettering FWW Woolworth across the front of the store, what a shame it was when they changed to white fascias with plain red lettering! Wooden floors and counters which were sectioned off by using glass and chrome fittings, and who can forget those enormous metal cash registers with the bell on the end to summon the Supervisor?
Just inside the door of almost every store was a penny weighing machine which would display your weight to everyone on an enormous dial. On the ceiling for many years until a complete refurbishment took place the Cosham store, and many others, retained the old gas lights, mantles and glass shades, just in case!!! And there was also a very distinctive aroma to the place.
Woolworths were not the best payers in the world, £3 a week for a shop girl in 1958, but it was better pay than the Coop but worse than Marks and Spencers. The uniform was not popular with the staff and as far as I can remember there were three different colours depending on which counter you worked, cream with red lettering for all food products, green for hardware and red or everything else. But whatever the colour of the uniform there was always one thing in common, all the pockets were sewn up to prevent pilfering!!
Woolworths were well known for offering part time employment and in fact would employ girls and boys of just 14 years of age as Saturday workers providing they their application form signed by their head teacher. Looking back that I really do not remember any of my school friends working in the Cosham store or even applying for a job there.
None of us would have dreamt when we were teenagers that such an institution as Woolworths would totally disappear from our High Strees. How many times over the years did we hear our mothers say, ‘I’ll just nip into Woolies a minute, they are bound to have one’.
But unfortunately no longer!
Stay in touch,
NO NURSING HOME FOR me!!! No nursing home for us. We'll be checking into a Holiday Inn!
With the average cost for a nursing home care costing £188.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and too feeble.
I've already checked on reservations at the Holiday Inn.
For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it's £59.23 per night.
Breakfast is included, and some have happy hours in the afternoon.
That leaves £128.77 a day for lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry, gratuities and special TV movies.
Plus, they provide a spa, swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer-dryer, etc.
Most have free toothpaste and razors, and all have free shampoo and soap.
£5 worth of tips a day you'll have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
They treat you like a customer, not a patient.
There's a bus stop out front, and seniors ride free.
For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there.
While you're at the airport, fly somewhere. Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.
It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Holiday Inn will take your reservation today.
And you're not stuck in one place forever -- you can move from Inn to Inn, or even from city to city.
Want to see Scotland ? They have Holiday Inn there too.
TV broken? Light bulbs need changing? Need a mattress replaced? No problem.. They fix everything, and apologize for the inconvenience.
The Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks to see if you are ok. If not, they'll call an ambulance . . . Or the undertaker.
If you fall and break a hip, NHS will pay for the hip, and Holiday Inn will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.
And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you, and probably check in for a few days mini-vacation.
The grandkids can use the pool.
What more could I ask for?
So, when I reach that golden age, I'll face it with a grin.
To all of you approaching 50 or have REACHED 50 and past, this email is especially for you......
ARE THE NATION'S LEADING CARRIERS OF AIDS!
MOST OF ALL,
MONETARY AID TO THEIR KIDS!
Not forgetting HIV
(Hair is Vanishing)
I'm only sending this to my 'old' friends.
News and Views:
Dick Kniss, bassist with Peter, Paul & Mary for most of their musical career died late last month.
On this day 20th February 1960-1965.
20/02/1960the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was EMI's last coarse-groove 78 rpm record was issued.
20/02/1961the number one single was Are you Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
20/02/1962the number one single was The Young Ones - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Unknown Sean Connery cast as 007 in Dr No.
20/02/1963the number one single was Diamonds - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Liz Taylor films Cleopatra.
20/02/1964the number one single was Diane - Bachelors and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Steptoe & Son (BBC) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Malcolm X visits Cassius Clay's training camp.
20/02/1965the number one single was Tired of Waiting For You - The Kinks and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.