Up to the mid 1960’s the area surrounded by Fishergate, Lune Street, Friargate and Market Place (Cheapside) was densely populated with old buildings which appeared to be built in quite an ad hoc fashion. It comprised of mainly six small streets and alleyways; Anchor Court, Bamber’s Yard, St. George’s Road, Aspinall Street, Guy Street and Chapel Walks. Originally there were other small yards and alleyways however, by the early twentieth century most of those had disappeared in one way or another. This compact and busy area became colloquially known by Prestonians as ‘Bamber’s Yard’ which was an ancient passageway named after Joshua Bamber, a cooper, who opened premises there in 1827. When it was demolished in 1963 to make way for the new St. George’s Shopping Centre, it was described as part of “a four and a half acre tangle of mean alleys and sagging warehouses which had been for most of this century as good an approximation to a ‘twilight zone’ as the North could boast.” Although most Prestonians who walked and shopped there would probably have fond memories of the place.
One of the most popular alleyways was one known as Anchor Court which takes its name from a seventeenth century inn known as the ‘Golden Anchor’ and is the only alley in that particular area that remains today. It does not resemble the original alley and only leads to the service area for the retail shop warehouses. In the mid 1900’s this alleyway was entered into from a small underpass between a shop known as ‘Maypole’ and ‘Halfords’ the cycle people and can be viewed in the above image marked accordingly. If you travelled down Anchor Court you would eventually emerge at Bamber’s Yard. Around that time Anchor Court was mainly populated by industrial premises, one of these being J. Sharples the upholsterers. Many of the buildings in Anchor Court, seen in the adjacent image to the left, were constructed in the early 1800’s some of them being three and four storeys high, creating a very dark and gloomy atmosphere giving the place a rather Dickensian look and feel.
Bamber’s Yard itself was accessible from various directions; from Anchor Court, George’s Road, Aspinall Street and Friargate. The entrance at Friargate, seen in the adjacent image to the left, was through an underpass opposite Orchard Street, approimately where the ‘St. George’s Shopping’ entrance is now. Along the yard there were quite a few shops and traders such as Forshaws the bakers where you could always smell the beautiful aroma of fresh baked bread. There was Reg Daniels the garden machinery shop where I can remember going with my father to have his lawn mower blades sharpened. There was also John Hoyle’s Cheese factors, William Rhodes the florists, Boston’s the cooked meat people, an agricultural yard and a four storey building which was the Comrades Club better known as the Friendship Club.
I would imagine that many senior Prestonians will recall Bamber’s Yard, seen in the above image, as much as I do. Although it now looks so outdated by modern standards, I still feel an endearment to the old place as I am sure that many of the readers will do too. I wonder who the two ladies were looking in Forshaws window and carrying an enormous cooking pan. Does anyone know either of them? I would be very interested to discover their names.
Next Week: Part 2 of the Bamber’s Yard area.
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