Inns, taverns and beer houses in Preston in the early to mid-1800’s were largely different from what we might imagine.
Most, for instance, would be brewing their own beer. Conditions in particularly the smaller ones were quite basic, with some no more than Spartan, and the odd one distinctly undesirable! Many were just a single room providing a meagre income for those running them. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of them!
After World War II it was said that there were 365 pubs in Preston – one for every day, but I intend to show you that there were well over 700 of them before 1900! Some of them were merely the same pub with a new name, but many weren’t. Some came and went while others stayed the course.
Over the next few months I will introduce you to some of the early properties that were involved, some that you may have heard of, some that I’ll be surprised if you have, and some that I hope you have. When researching the subject I introduced two criteria; firstly that I would limit the time period to before 1900, and that I would only include those that were within the old borough boundary. The first of these has been extended slightly, but the second still exists.
It has to be remembered that Preston’s population grew very quickly in the 19th century due mainly to the cotton industry, but not exclusively. In 1800 the population was about 10,000 and in 1880 around 80,000, with each decade introducing roughly 10,000 new people. From a population that was tightly knit around the town centre, the town expanded rapidly, and the accompanying services with it, including inns and beer houses.
It’s been interested to note how transport has played a role in their development, from the time of travel on horse-back and horse and cart, through to coaching transport for both the public and as carriers for goods. The advent of the Preston to Lancaster Canal at the end of the 1790’s and early 1800’s brought its own little collection of inns running more or less alongside it from its basin close to the town centre.
The River Ribble and trade generated by the port of Preston and its shipbuilding industry had its own group of inns serving it, both adjacent to the river, and in thoroughfares leading to it, such as Marsh Lane and later Water Lane and Watery Lane. The Dock Estate and its attendant growth in imports and exports didn’t come until much later in the century.
The advent of railways in the mid-1830’s brought the need for hotels and beer houses close to the railway station, and at one time there were eight of them in Butler Street alone. Today there is one! Half of these were demolished when the railway was widened and the west side of Butler Street disappeared. From the railway station the rail lines spread out through the town principally to serve the burgeoning cotton industry, providing the need for further inns to serve the workers and their families.
As the town grew, the introduction of thoroughfares like New Hall Lane, London Road, Ribbleton Lane, Park Road (at one time called Scotland Road), Moor Lane, Adelphi Street, Brook Street and Fylde Road, all produced a ribbon of inns and beer houses along their length. Behind these were groups of pubs that served just one area, such as Maudland, Avenham and others, all with their own character and personalities running them.
A particularly large group of hotels, inns, taverns and beer houses were to be found in the town centre, with fours almost next door to one another on Church Street where the Miller Arcade now stands. If you stood in the middle of the Market Place in the mid-1800’s there were about forty establishments within a stone’s throw. Three in New Street (where was that? I hear you ask). Well, it was next to Gin Bow Entry where there were another three – and a fourth at the far end where it met The Shambles.
Another within that throwing range was the George Inn, an old and well-established pub that during the 19th century was one of the earliest Concert Halls in the town. Concert Halls emerged from the earlier singing salons which were generally aimed at the lower classes and youths, and developed into the early true concert halls. We’ll be having a closer look at those.
We’ll take a look at how some of these pubs got their names, and I’ll point out some that changed their names. Some seem to have changed them temporarily for the sake of a court case – presumably to avoid adverse publicity and perhaps others changed them for a variety of reasons. Many were the bases for trade’s people and took their names from those trades, such as the Butchers’ Arms. Social organisations such as the Oddfellow’s provided names, and Royalty or political dignitaries provided others, like the Albert Inn and the Lord Raglan.
Pubs were named after battles and soldiers such as the Sebastopol Inn and Nelson’s Monument, whilst sporting and such events provided others, like the Hoop and Crown (quoits), and the Royal George (a ship which sank with a huge loss of life). The locations in which they stood found repetition in the name whilst others took the name of an animal. I am informed that the sign of the White Horse on Fishergate faded and became dirty, with the name subsequently being altered to the Grey Horse – later Grey Horse and Seven Stars. Others names I have encountered I have categorised as ‘novelties,’ but you can make your own minds up.
I hope that my series of articles will be entertaining and enlightening. If anyone would like to add to my knowledge please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d sooner hear things twice than miss a nugget of something new.
Let me know if you’re looking forward to my series.