A YEAR full of twists and turns appeared to throw another curveball with the news that one of the nation’s most loved retailers could have been making an unexpected comeback in 2021.

Since confirmed to be a spoof, it was announced that Woolworths would be returning to the high street with three trial stores due to open late next year.

The retailer went into administration in 2008 and closed all of its UK stores, including numerous across south Essex, by January 2009.

In a hoax announcement made on a Twitter account attributed to Woolworths UK this morning, the retailer said: “Here to save 2020! Woolworths is coming back to your high street, as a physical store!


Shell - the Woolworths store on Rayleigh High Street was turned into a restaurant following its closure in 2009

“A couple of legal things to get sorted, but we’re full steam ahead at Woolworths HQ.

“We want to get this right, so we need your help. What do you want at your UK #YourWoolworths?

“Our trial stores will open in 2021. Very own the online Woolworths, so we will be retail only.


Roll call - members of staff at Woolworths’ Southend High Street store line-up for a group photograph in 1950

“Before we launch we have a few legal contracts to sign, but we’re super excited!”

While the announcement has been confirmed as a hoax, Echo readers have good memories of the dearly missed retailer being on our doorstep.

Clare Ellis said: “I remember Woolworths in Southend. I was at school then when it was around.”


Outside - Councillor Peter Dolby stands in front of the Woolworths store on Leigh’s Broadway shortly after the shop closed its doors for the final time

Maureen Kirkland added: “I worked in the Southend store for seven years. I hope Woolies comes back to the high street.”


Woolworths boasted stores in Southend, Wickford, Leigh, Hadleigh, Canvey, Basildon, Westcliff, Rayleigh and Billericay during its heyday.


End of an era - Southend High Street waved goodbye to its Woolworths store when it shut its doors for the last time in January 2009

The retailer opened a small premises at 29 Southend High Street on April 25, 1914.

A cinema front was added in 1957, when the store was extended to span 29-35 High Street.

It was enlarged further in 1977, while the upper sales floor and restaurant were closed in 1988.

The entire store was shut in January 2009.


Standing together - John Rushton (left) and David Harrison outside the closed Woolworths on Wickford High Street in February 2009

Join us on a trip down memory lane by joining our ‘We grew up in Essex’ Facebook group. If you have old photos and stories to share with our readers, simply complete our online form.

Scroll down to see more memories of south Essex's Woolworths stores.


Happy to meet again - a host of former Woolworths employees who worked at the Southend High Street store in the 1950s and 1960s enjoyed a get together at Sands Restaurant in 2012


Treasure trove - ex-workers at the Southend High Street store shared memories and photographs from their days at Woolworths


Getting festive - Southend Woolworths employees at a Christmas party when the high streets were booming and online shopping did not exist


Rolling back the years - Maria Brown (far left), from Eastwood, worked at Southend’s Woolworths 60 years ago


Memories - the pic ‘n’ mix sweets found at Woolworths were a favourite with children