5 things 1990s kids can’t do in Surrey anymore, including browsing Toys ‘R’ Us and Woolworths

Cowabunga! If you didn’t grow up in the 1990s, that word might not have much meaning. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references aside, there are many now-defunct experiences in Surrey that children or teenagers of that decade could enjoy at the time.

Who remembers the joy of going to the video store and renting the latest Robin Williams movie with your hard-earned pocket money? Or knowing that Christmas had officially arrived once Toys ‘R’ Us Christmas commercials lit up your TV screens?

There are just some things that people growing up in later decades will never get the chance to do. SurreyLive has listed five places kids of the 1990s will surely remember (and probably miss).

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Pick and mix at Woolworths

You could fill a candy cup at Woolworths

Say the word “Woolies” to people in their early twenties or younger today and you might be met with a questioning expression. The retail chain sold everything from CDs to clothing and gadgets and was a major part of UK high streets for a century.

The store opened in England in 1909 and the last closed in 2009. For many children in the 1990s, the highlight of a trip to Woolworths was rummaging through the sweet pickings and mixes section as ferrets possessed. There were six of the stores in Surrey – Guildford, Woking, Redhill, Haslemere Epsom and Chertsey – now all resigned to dusty memory.

Christmas shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us in Woking

The much-loved mega toy store was a go-to destination for Christmas shopping, in the pre-internet era. The chain went bankrupt in 2018 and the Woking branch was demolished in 2019, after more than 30 years of trading in the city, to become part of the Victoria Square development.

Potential good news, however, is that rumors of the store reopening across the UK ‘within months’ were reported earlier this year in February after the company signed a new deal to bring it back to the streets main. Hooray.

Choose a movie in Blockbuster

Treasure Cove will replace the disused Blockbuster store in Woking
Treasure Cove has replaced the disused Blockbuster store (pictured) in Woking

With the rise of TV streaming and the digital generation, movie rental stores have become obsolete. The most popular channel at the time was Blockbuster (previously called Ritz), where kids could spend many afternoons browsing through the titles on offer.

Surrey had many such stores in the county, including the likes of Reigate, Walton and Sunbury, before it entered administration nearly a decade ago in 2013. A few nostalgic SurreyLive readers said in 2020: “Blockbusters!!! Nothing like spending hours trying to choose a movie from the store!! Scrolling through Netflix isn’t the same”.

Clubbing at Pantiles in Bagshot

Student night out at Pantiles nightclub in Bagshot.
Student night out at Pantiles nightclub in Bagshot

For older Surrey teenagers in the decade that brought us Britpop and the Spice Girls, Pantiles club in Bagshot was the place to dance the night away. But after 40 years, the place closed to customers. It was demolished and replaced by a site the polar opposite in spirit – the Sunrise Senior Living care home – despite a campaign to save it.

Ahead of its closure, owner Bob Archer said at the time: “Everyone at Pantiles is determined in how long they have left to celebrate 40 years under one owner, with special appreciation for the many members who have fond memories. nostalgic for the good times spent under the old beamed roof.”

Dine at Jack’s Fish and Chips in Bagshot

The old sign outside Jack's fish and chips store in Bagshot
Jack’s fish and chip shop was popular with many Surrey residents

What could be better as a child than a good family meal? Another Bagshot location on the list that older SurreyLive readers will remember is Jack’s fish and chip shop.

Jack’s was located near the A30, where many people had a meal before continuing their journey. The place was renowned for its friendly atmosphere and staff.

However, in recent years there was a general feeling that it was starting to deteriorate and the quality of their food was decreasing. The restaurant closed in 2021 before being demolished.

Did you grow up in Surrey in the 1990s and miss something back then? Join the conversation with other Surrey readers and let us know here.

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