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Retail Therapy: 20 Fun Facts About Shops In Woolwich

Note: My sources for this list are the Survey of London’s Vol. 48 tome on Woolwich by P. Guillery, and Woolwich Reviewed, by J. Watson

1. Thomas Paine, who went on to write The Age of Reason and The Rights of Man,  briefly kept a stay-maker’s shop on Woolwich High Street around 1760.

2. Kent House (1892-8) is in Powis Street, Woolwich, and housed Garrett’s Emporium for decades. The Invicta horse of Kent is on the front of the building, from when Woolwich was part of Kent. Garrett’s closed in 1972.

3. Barron’s Ostrich Feather Store operated opposite General Gordon Square in the 1920s.

4. Endean’s Leather and Grindery Merchants used to border Beresford Square.

Rose's started off life as a beer shop.

Rose’s started off life as a beer shop.

5. Furlongs Motor Engineers, which fronts onto Beresford Street, has been in business since the early 1950s.

6. Powis Street, the main shopping strip in Woolwich, was named after three brothers who were Greenwich-based brewers in the 18th century.

7. In 1886, Woolwich had 39 drapers and milliners shops, and trams ran along Powis Street.

8. Marks & Spencer has been in Powis Street since 1914. The present building is from the 1930s and features a facade based on a 10-inch grid system designed by Robert Lutyens. This design can be seen on about 40 M&S stores throughout the U.K. Robert was the son of Sir Edwin Lutyens, famous for his work in Delhi.

9. Sainsburys in Woolwich was built in 1971-2 and was London’s largest when it opened in 1973. It recently celebrated its 40th birthday, with the staff wearing 70s clothes.

10. John Upson sold shoes in Woolwich from the 1860s, in the market. His firm became Dolcis in 1920 and folded in 2008.

11. H. Samuel, jeweller, has been trading at 40 Powis Street since 1904.

12. Number 32 Powis Street was built in 1895-6 for Salmon and Gluckstein, tobacconists. It features a fine example of a crow-step gable. It’s now a coffee shop.

13. Out of front of the Argos on Powis Street is a 1960s hand-laid marble floor.

14. Woolwich Market received its charter in 1618 and has been in Beresford Square since the early 19th century. Beresford Square was named after Viscount Beresford, soldier and politician, in 1837.

15. Number 62 Hare Street was built 1882 and was known as Gabriel’s corner after Isaac Gabriel, a tailor. Talent clothing store now occupies some of it.

Percy Ingles started off in Hackney in the 1950s.

Percy Ingles started off in Hackney in the 1950s.

16. Number 48 Powis Street was part of Electric House (1935-6), also known as “London’s wonder showroom” of appliances. JD Sports now occupies some of it.

17. Woolwich Public Market on Plumstead Road was built in 1936. The first building on the site was a chapel (c. 1770).

18. Thames House in Woolwich was a showroom for Dagenham Motors in the mid-1950s, then a DIY store. It became The Great Harry pub in 2000.

19. Number 47 Hare Street was a beer shop in the 1840s. E. J. Rose bought it in 1888 and rebuilt in 1928, and it’s still a pub.

20. Percy Ingles, the bakery in Powis Street, is part of a chain that has its origins in Hackney in the 1950s.

3 Comments
  1. F Page permalink

    I’m from Chicago and I use to visit my Nan back in the 1970s. I remember a store called Cuffs on the main street. She brought me a great Action Man set there.

    • Cuffs was an amazing store I’ve been told. Sadly long gone.

      • F Page permalink

        I loved shopping in Woowich when I would come over in the summer. Playing the fruit machines in arcade, the old Woolworths, and the toy dealer who sold plastic soldiers in the open market. He would be there one day a week. When then local food wasn’t working with my American stomach I loved that there was a rare McDonalds in town. I know they are common now.
        I liked to take rides on the free fairy and then run back under the river the whole way in the tunnel. There was a baker and chip shop around the corner from my grandparents flat, I think it was called Kingsman Parade. I once lost my bearing and asked the chip guy for an order of fries and he asked me to speak English please. The cheek, I’m more English then he was. I could tell stories all day about my visits in the 70′s and 80′s.

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