• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Fascinating photos of Oxford in the 1980s when Woolworths closed down


Aug 13, 2022

Back in the 1980s the Miss Oxford competition was packed with contestants, Woolworths shut for good in Cornmarket in 1982, and hospital drivers were out on strike the same year.

And Jim Smith was the popular manager of the U’s in 1984.

Oxford Mail:

Inflation was running at a similarly high rate 40 years ago as it is today although unemployment was much higher.

Read again: Life in the UK in 1982

It came as a big shock to staff and shoppers when Woolworths announced the closure of the Cornmarket store on March 10, 1982.

The Oxford Mail headlines said it all – ‘Woolies checks out’ and ‘Angry traders say council is killing off Oxford’.

Oxford Mail:

The company said the store was “in profit but not making a satisfactory return on investments”.

It closed in January 1983.

The closing down sale was so successful the store shut a day earlier than expected.

Chief cashier Viola Hancock shed a tear as the store closed after her 40 years’ service.

Oxford Mail:

New children's clothing store opens at Westgate

Staff held a farewell party at Cowley Workers’ Social Club.

Also in 1982, the Miss Oxford contest was keen contested.

More than 100 contestants gathered at the Oxford Mail offices for a chance to impress the judges.

Oxford Mail:

The judging panel – Penny Hart, Anne Kelly, Jim Griffiths, Brian Kendall and Dave Freeman – took three hours to reduce the hopefuls to the 18 finalists and a reserve.

Read more: Disused church to be converted into home

Oxford Mail:

The finals took place at the Apollo Theatre in George Street, with the crown going to Helen Winstanley.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF