My Memories: Woodhall Stores

"Come on love, Woodhall's a lot better!"

By George Boston

1962 - Aerial view of Woodhall Stores on Cole Green Lane.
1969 - Enlarged aerial view of Woodhall Stores and the long car park.

My first memories of Woodhall Stores was when I was 4 years old, in 1946.  I remember that it was a Friday and my dad rushed me down with him to Woodhall and we went into the Midland Bank which was directly on the corner next to Ludwick Way and to the left of the Bank was the Royal Mail Post Office.  My dad made a weekly visit on a Saturday to the Midland Bank to do his banking and also to get anything else he needed.  After he went to the Bank, he went next door to the Post Office where he sent his various post and telegrams and paid 8d in National Insurance with his Class E Contribution Card. 

There was a small footpath that went from the Ludwick Way side across in front of the shops right round to the Furzefield Road.  There was a car park that spanned the whole of Woodhall Shops site, which was in front of the shops. The shops were (right to left), as of 1957:

  • Midland Bank.
  • Royal Mail Post Office.
  • Walby’s – they sold confectionery and newspapers.
  • Welwyn Bakery – they sold bread and pastries.  Fine Fare took their business premises over but they continued to trade as Welwyn Bakery until 1959.
  • Fine Fare Ltd – this specific shop sold drinks, ice creams (ice lollies as well) and chocolate.  They took over Welwyn Bakery’s Woodhall Store in 1954 and then in 1959 Welwyn Stores Ltd bought the shop from Fine Fare Ltd to extend the main shopping area.
  • Welwyn Stores – this was the main Woodhall shop that was 100 metres long that consisted of the greengrocers, the grocers, provisions counter, butchers, the Gerrards Jewellers counter and many other necessities.
  • The WGCUDC Rent and Tax office – this office was one of the original first shops at Woodhall and it remained until 1987.  Tax on the home, general rates and council rent was paid in this office.
  • Garden City Accessories – they sold home furniture, home tools and office stationery.
  • Kershaw Hardware – they sold numerous types of hardware like keys and cutlery.  They were another original Woodhall shop.
  • Elite Fisheries – a fish and chip shop.

In March 1955 I found a job in the main Woodhall shop (that belonged to Welwyn Stores Ltd) on the food counter.  We finished grammar school at 3.30pm and I cycled along up Stanborough Road along Broadwater Road then down Woodhall Lane up Hollybush then there was Woodhall and it took me 20 minutes and I worked a 1 hour shift every weekday after school except in August and Easter when I went to visit family. I had 10 minutes before I started work so I went into the Fine Fare shop and bought a small little Vimto drink which I took into work. I fancied something a bit more exciting so I went to work for Welwyn Coachworks in 1957, when I turned 15 years old.

The Woodhall stores were opened in October 1938 to the general public, and initially a lot smaller. As the population grew, it was extended. The first three shops was the hardware shop, the council rent and tax office plus the main shop belonging to Welwyn Stores Ltd. My uncles, when they each came to visit in the Garden City, loved browsing the hardware shop at Woodhall as they both worked in that industry. The shops were renovated into individual little shops during the late 1980s and early 1990s following the construction of The Howard Centre. Such a real shame but there we go.

This page was added on 11/10/2015.

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  • I’m sure there are lots of errors in this descriptive of Woodhall shops. I lived in Longlands Road from 1949, and much was different to the description. There were always small shops in a row, including a steamy cafe and Fishband chip shop, run by the family of my schoolmate Barry Taylor. There was a hardware shop called Hobarts, where I was sent to buy paraffin for our oil stove – the sole source of heat other than the living room fire.

    In my day, the rent office was attached to the Community Centre opposite the shops. I remember being sent with 19 shillings or therabouts to pay the rent. This was increased by a few pence when we acquired a fridge, provided by the council!
    The row was extended (in the late ’50’s?) to reach the bottom of Ludwick Way.

    By Martin FIGG (03/04/2021)
  • I remember the shops well as I used to collect the Evening Standards from the little orange box at the back of Nabiscos after school and deliver them from 1969 to 1972. First stop Peartree Stores, then the newsagents at Woodhall, Bernard Tripp’s at Hollybush, the shop in the QE2 and finish at Fourbouy’s at Ludwick.

    By Steve Ellis (16/02/2021)
  • Incidentally – and just to clarify – Walby’s was not part of the Woodhall shopping centre. It was in Cole Green Lane the other side of Ludwick Way.

    By Robstan (15/10/2019)
  • My dad was the greengrocer on Sandpit Lane (by the Community Centre). My grandad was there before, so a family business for many years

    By Tina Hart (Digby) (05/08/2019)
  • Renovated into individual shops in the late 80s? As far back as i can remember (born 68) apart from Co-op and Fine Fare they were all individual shops.
    Are you sure that’s not the store in Peartree lane next to my old jnr School?. That was a dept store and changed many yrs later.
    They used to have a huge Sweet counter as you went in on the right and on the left i remember the large display wall cabinet with all the Matchbox Cars…
    That was Peartree Stores. Changed to a diy store ” Fix n Fit” and i think then it changed in later years.
    Lived 10min walk from Woodall and was always around there.

    By John Leishman (01/04/2018)
  • I remember the Chemist’s shop Johns & Kelynack at Woodhall in the ’50s and ’60s.

    By Robstan (15/11/2017)
  • The rent office was always first house in Mill Green Rd was never a shop

    By Mrs Mcleod (02/08/2017)