We all know our beloved high streets are in peril, with the rise of online shopping, free returns and next day delivery - shopping from the comfort of your sofa has never been easier. 

But what about those afternoons and weekends we used to spend walking up and down the high street trying to find the best bargain or perfect pair of shoes... 

From picking out the finest suit at Hall's to getting pick n mix after school from Woolies, which stores and memories do you miss the most? 


Banbury Cake:

Woolies, Cowley 2009. 

One of Britain’s quintessential high street stores has got to be Woolworths. 

As children we used to run in after school to grab a bag of pick n mix whilst tasting the odd one as we went. 

Mums always referred to it as ‘Woolies’ and no back-to-school shop was complete without stopping into the store.  

Woolworths brought the old Clarendon Hotel, which stood at the entrance to where the Clarendon Centre is today. 

The hotel was demolished in 1954 and the new store opened in 1957 - this ‘victory’ is said to have changed the character of our city centre.

The Woolworths in Templars Square, Cowley, closed in January 2009 .

Hall Brothers 

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One of the most iconic tailors of Oxford was Hall Brothers who have been claimed to have created the Oxford satchel in the 20th century. 

The tailors could be found in the former Barclays premises at 92 and 93 High Street. 

Radio Rentals

Founded in Brighton in 1930, Radio Rentals was iconic in its day as the shop to rent your radio, television or video recorders. 

The company boomed at the turn of the 1980s when we all wanted the latest TV sets and material gadgets in our homes at affordable prices. 

In the 90’s Radio Rentals brought the iconic Rumbelows stores that once rivalled the likes of Currys, Dixons and Comet.

The Radio Rentals shop could be found at 33 Pound Way. . 

However, the company became defunct in 2000 as electronics became cheaper to buy and the need to rent became less. 

Beatties Model ShopBanbury Cake:

The much-loved model toy shop was a tinkerer’s dream, from toy cars to model railway sets and lots more. 

Beatties stores were all over the UK with lots of children, fathers and grandads running to their nearest store at the weekend to get a project to work on.

Back in the day, having a Beatties Club charge account would make you the envy of everyone in the playground or even pub.

Freeman Hardy and Willis

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Image courtesy of Stephanie Jenkins at oxfordhistory

Known as the shop to buy shoes for ‘all the family’, there was a branch of Freeman Hardy and Willis in nearly every town across the country, including on the corner of Queen Street from 1887. 

The shop used to wrap its shoes in iconic brown paper bags, imprinted with the letters FHW which became known as the legend ‘for happy walking’. 

During the 90s many Freeman Hardy and Willis stores were turned into Hush Puppies stores and the empire closed in 1996. 


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Image courtesy of - Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine. 

Our grandchildren will never know the excitement of a Friday night trip to Blockbuster to rent a few movies for the weekend. 

Before the likes of Netflix and TV on-demand, Blockbuster was the place to go to choose what to watch and get some perfect movie snacks. 

There were Blockbuster stores all over the county including in Headington, Wallingford and Thame. 

The film, TV and games rental company went into administration in 2013.  

Toys R Us

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Not quite on the high street but this iconic toy store couldn’t be missed off the list. 

The huge store in Botley closed in 2018 and the discount shop Home Bargains has been given the go ahead to take over the retail space. 

The toy giant announced in March 2018 that all UK stores would begin liquidation and be closed within six weeks.

The shop's rival, Smyths, purchased Toys R Us stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as their head office in Cologne.  

If we have missed your favourite by-gone shop, let us know in the comments!