Posted by Martin Nixon
3 November, 2009

With the demise of Woolworths in January, High Streets across the UK including my home town lost an iconic brand.

The Penzance store served generations of customers from the same location and, walking up into town, I had often glanced over at the marvellous illuminated back-lit neon sign glowing out across Market Jew Street at night.

Most Woolworth’s branches replaced the neon with white plastic during a tweak of the fascias in the early 90s, but I guess because PZ is at the end of the line, somehow this one escaped.

Soon after the decision to close all branches, I mentioned to Emily that the sign should be saved for posterity. Some months later she approached the workmen transforming the store into ‘Poundland’, and did a deal on the spot, buying the sign for me as a surprise gift. Naturally, I was more than thrilled but became somewhat embarrassed when called out to the ‘site’ to collect them on a particularly busy Saturday in August. As his mate unscrewed them one by one from the building, the foreman helped me load each letter into the back of the car.

I got some fairly strange looks and more than a few admiring comments; a few people quipped ‘You’ll get a bomb for those on Ebay, mate’. Well, I’m pleased to report they won’t be sold but will grace the studio. Now all I need is to get them wired up and the neon will glow crimson once more.

A man taking down the neon signage at a closed-down Woolworths.
The neon letters froma  Woolworths sign and a dog in a car boot.
The Nixon Design studio, with wooden flooring and neon letters W, H and O, from an old Woolworth's sign.