IT was ten years ago this month (December 2008) that the Salisbury Journal headlines announced that “Forty-three Woolworths staff to lose jobs in Salisbury.”

Many eager bargain-hunters flocked to the shop’s closing down sale but customers emerging from the store said that although they were delighted with their cut-price Christmas purchases, they also felt sad that it had come to this.

The High Street Woolworths opened in 1957 and one year later the store was visited by the great Buddy Holly who, before performing three shows in Salisbury Gaumont in the Canal, ordered a soda from the diamond bar. He also bought a fountain pen from the store which he used to inform his folks in the states of how clean Salisbury was.

In fact the first Salisbury Woolworth’s store was opened at Salisbury House, 55-59 Silver Street in early December 1927. Until then, the nearest Woolworth’s to Salisbury were at Southampton and Bournemouth. The opening of the Salisbury store aroused great interest and excitement. To mark the opening, everyone who bought goods worth 2s 6d was given a new galvanised bucket. For the two days the offer remained open, there was the rare spectacle of many people going home carrying shiny new buckets.

Before Woolworth’s took over the premises in Silver Street, it was owned by David Stevens who, for many years, carried on a high class drapery and clothing business there. Here you could see the unusual action of money paid over the counter shuttled to the cash desk in a container shot along overhead wires.

There were two large windows with the main doors in the middle slightly laid back from the pavement. The upper part of the building with its windows retains to this day most of the original Victorian facade and is where Holland and Barrett now trades.