REMEMBER Woolworths? Woolies? If you are of a certain age how could you ever forget.

If it’s wasn’t the Pick ‘n’ Mix that got you through the door it was popping in for a record, then as time went on a tape, then a CD or filling up your basket with some cheap stationary, toys, makeup or books.

The photos in our gallery here take us back in time to May of 1977 when an Echo snapper visited the Woolworths store in High Street, Rayleigh.


It’s likely the branch had enjoyed a makeover and so the photographer was keen to get some snaps of the new products on offer.

You can see even back then the Pick n Mix counter was a big part of the shop’s appeal. The checkout girl is pictured next to stashes of sweets and a set of scales, ready to weigh out bags of every flavour chocolate you could want.

Woolworths famously migrated over to Britain from America and by the 1950s there were 800 branches across the country.


Stores were even opened in Kingston, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Rayleigh branch was closed in 2009 after Woolworths stores everywhere began shutting up shop, causing a national outcry.

The Rayleigh Woolworths branch was the centre of a violent drama in May of 1965 when the manager of the store, Stanley Smith, was coshed over the head and forced by a gang of burglars to open the safe.


The crooks struck as Mr Smith was cycling home on a Saturday night after closing up. A stranger approached him and bundled him into the car. He was driven back to the branch, beaten up and forced to hand over the keys to the safe.

The robbers fled with £800 and Mr Smith was left unconscious and in a bad way. The men escaped in a stolen car but they stopped off to call the police from a phone box to tell them where Mr Smith was and that he needed medical help.