Preston Past: Preston’s ‘Old’ Town Hall

Old Town Hall of 1781 – 1862

This is a view from Fishergate of the ‘Old’ Town Hall of Preston, occupying the site of the present Crystal House which replaced the former Town Hall of the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. It is probaby not such recognisable sight to most Prestonians of today as it was built in 1781/82  following the collapse of the ancient Moot Hall on the same site in 1780.  The properties seen at the right were later replaced by the Miller Arcade in 1899.

Only about half the site between Fishergate and the Market Square was occupied by the Town Hall, the remainder of the site being taken up by timber framed buildings and the image below shows the rear south side of the Town Hall facing the Market Square. The Town Hall was built at a cost of £700.

The area of land facing the Market Square behind the Town Hall

The inserted image, on the lower right side of the above photo, is that of the timber framed buildings that were originally standing on the vacant site. The triple-eaved building in the centre was built for Anne and John Jenkinson and completed in 1629.  I’m sure that you will agree that they looked quite splendid and graced the Square magnificently. These timber framed structures were demolished in 1855 when, at that time, no decision had been made and for some years the council had deliberated as to what to do with the land.  Then in 1862 the remainder of the site was flattened when the town hall was demolished to make way for the ill fated Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Town hall which a lot more Prestonians will be more familiar with today.

An interesting fact to note is that one of the old Town Hall clocks was removed and reinstalled at Beech Grove Farm, Greenhalgh near Kirkham and remains there today, still in full working order!

Next week: An insight to Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Town Hall.

This is a weekly series showcasing photos each week from the brilliant Preston Digital Archive which is an online archive of images of Preston’s past.

Sign up below to receive Blog Preston's weekly newsletter. It wings its way into your inbox every Sunday with a round-up of our best content from the last week and a look ahead to what's happening in the city.