Woolworth's Site

Remains of medieval dwellings


Medieval remains dating from the 12th to the 15th century were discovered on the site of what had once been a large Woolworth store when redevelopment of the area began in 2017.

Before the present apartments and shop were built, archaeologists began an extensive investigation of the site and revealed many old wells and an oven built from 12th-14th century material. There were remnants of 17th-19th century cellars and pits, and stone steps leading to what may have been a stone bath.

The first Woolworth's in Dunstable, called Woolworth's Bazaar, opened on this site in the 1930s.

It took over a tiny shop at number 13 High Street South which had previously belonged to John Bowles, a jeweller.

Woolworth's later purchased the shop next door, number 11, owned by a well-known businessman, Bert Stott, who had moved into a larger building opposite, in Middle Row. Woolworth demolished both premises and in 1934 built a big new store.

Next door to this was a tobacconist shop owned by W.H. Bale and Sons, whose upper floor overhung the Church Walk alleyway. This old-fashioned shop, which had sold tobacco since at least 1887, displayed clay tobacco pipes with long stems in its window. It closed in the 1950s and Woolworth's seized the opportunity to buy the site and make their store even bigger.

When Woolworth's closed in 2009 there was an unsuccessful attempt to run a discount store in the building, which then stood empty for some time before it was demolished.

Photo of old store in high street sough with horse and cart out front.
The P.J. Green shop became Woolworth when it was green shop high street south.
Front of 1958 Woolworth store
Woolworth after being extended 1958.
Front of 1930 Woolworth store
Woolworth store being expanded during the 1930s.
Front of Woolworth three-penny store in the context of street.
A photo of the Woolworth three-penny store.

Text: John Buckledee of Dunstable and District Local History Society. ©
Design: David Turner.
Narration: Catherine Maile of Dunstable Repertory Company.
Recording: David Hornsey.
Website developer: Joshua Buckledee.