Nearly 100 years of trading at Croydon’s Woolworths may come to an end after the credit crisis took its toll on the household name retailer.
The Croydon branch is the only store that has continued to trade in its original location, opened by Frank Woolworth himself on May 4, 1912.
The store today is much larger, having taken over the neighbouring cinema in 1929.
It was further extended into the Whitgift shopping centre in 1968 to make it its current size.
The spot, right at the heart of town and opposite the new Centrale shopping development - opened in autumn 2003 – was clearly well chosen by Frank Woolworth as it has never left.
The Croydon store shared its premises with the local cinema, Pyke’s Cinematograph, which was a popular destination for Edwardian Croydon residents.
Woolworths made the most of the opportunity, opening late to line up with films on the silver screen and offering popcorn, ice cream and many magazines and sheets of music associated with the movies.
Croydon is a good example of early design ideas from the United States, with a shopfront and fascia identical to a store in Barre, Vermont, almost 3,000 miles away.
Local historian Brian Roote is one of the many who will lament the loss of the building if Woolworths sells the store.
He said: “I’m very sad Woolworths is going.
“It managed to survive when they pulled down lots of buildings to construct the Whitgift. The problem is what they put in its place.
“There are not many of those buildings left. That part of Croydon seems to be getting worse and worse.”
Woolworths have fallen on hard times with the current economic climate and announced on November 27 it had gone into administration.
The chain could be sold for as little as £1, but any buyer would have to take on the huge debts the company has.
• For an essential online guide to saving money during the credit crunch visit croydonguardian.co.uk/money Pix 50-cr-woolies