Remembering Chester city centre’s lost shops

There have been some high-profile losses from the high street over the past decade or so

We recently reported on the iconic Browns of Chester store being put on the market with a price tag of £4m. The sad loss of the historic and high-profile department store in early 2021 was felt by both Chester residents and visitors alike.

Over the past decade or so, there have been a number major shop closures in the city centre – with some of those being retailers that have been lost from the high street forever.

Just a few days ago, we reported that fashion chain Joules was shutting its St Werburgh Street outlet for good. A notice in the window stated: “Goodbyes are always hard and this one certainly doesn’t come easily but we’ve made the decision to close our Chester store.”

A number of stores that have been lost from the city centre over the years are still fondly remembered. And there are others that have closed and then remained empty. Here is a selection of them:

Woolworths was one of the mainstays of Chester’s high street for well over half a century. It was the store that catered for your every need – whether you wanted the latest hit single, clothes or simply a bag of pick & mix.

The company collapsed into administration at the end of 2008 and the Foregate Street store closed shortly after. Older readers will remember that the original Woolies store was based on Eastgate Street.

It opened in the 1920s but closed sometime in the 1970s or 80s. As a result Chester was left without a Woolies until the early 2000s, when the new one opened on Foregate Street following the closure of C&A.

C&A had been a firm high street favourite for over 75 years, and enjoyed a heyday on Foregate Street for almost 30 years. But the chain withdrew from the UK in June 2000, closing all 113 stores.

BHS – the 88-year-old department store chain – fell into administration in April 2016. The Foregate Street store, which traded for decades, went on to close later that year.

It was the biggest high street collapse since Woolworths. A new tenant for the empty Chester branch has still not been found and the premises remains boarded up.

The Marks and Spencer menswear store closed in March 2014. The large unit, with entrances in Foregate Street and Frodsham Street, is now home to River Island.

The menswear store closed when the popular retailer consolidated its retail offer across the road in its other store on Foregate Street, which still remains open.

Other major losses over the years include Littlewoods and TJ Hughes. Away from retail, Chester remains one of the only major cities in the UK to no longer have a Pizza Hut venue. The restaurant chain departed the city centre in 2014, before also closing its Chester Retail Park site in 2020.


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