In this weeks Preston Past we continue with the changing views over 100 years along the south side of Fishergate in a westerly direction.
In the above splendid image of Fishergate in 1902, we can see a view of the buildings from Glover’s Court to the west side of Cannon Street.
The shop premises on the far left was originally Woolworth & Co. Ltd bazaar, but they were eventually removed to the building we all knew until recent times, opposite the Saint Gerorge’s Shopping Centre and is now the ‘Next’ store.
The Woolworth original building was eventually occupied by Barratt’s shoes. At the time the above image was captured Glover’s court was still a narrow passageway and therefore the building on the corner of Glover’s Court, which was recently occupied by ‘Past Times’, had not yet been built.
The next building to the right was a shop premises known then as ‘Trimming Warehouse’ later to become Freeman, Hardy & Willis Ltd. Boot Factors.
Immediately following the ‘Trimming Warehouse’ there was a narrow passageway known as New Cock Yard. Other than readers under about thirty years of age, most Prestonians will remember this place as a narrow yard leading down hill to Syke Street. There were quite a few small businesses along New Cock Yard but most prominent was the New Cock Inn, which was one of the long standing public houses in Preston and is mentioned in an 1821 trade directory as the publican being a gentleman called William Ascroft.
For many years up to the demolition of that part of New Cock Yard there was Jones’ motor mechanic workshop and I recall very well visiting there in the early 1960’s to watch with great enthusiasm, the engineers repairing motorbikes and such like.
In the adjacent image to the left you have a view of New Cock Yard looking outward through the underpass to Fishergate. If you look closely you can just see Redmans shop at the opposite side of the road.
The old lamplighter would have been a common sight at one time of the day when street lighting was powered by gas. At dusk there were a number of appointed lamplighters in Preston, each with their own allocated area who used to light the gas lamps with their lamplighter’s stick and extinguish them again in the morning.
The image below shows an evening capture of that part of Fishergate in the 1978 a few years prior to the demolition of some of the shop buildings and the upper part of New Cock Yard to make way for the new Boots building.
Referring back to the uppermost image at the beginning of this article; just right of centre there is the Thomas Mears brush manufacturers. The manufacturing and retailing of brushes was the original and prime purpose of the company in that era, but as many will know, eventually it became one of Preston’s ubiquitous shops for leather, trunks, bags and fancy goods as well as household requirements and a stock of toys to behold. Indeed, the upper floor of Thomas Mears was paradise for me as a youngster. They had, probably the finest displays of toys in Preston of the time and I’m sure that many of the readers will recall that the shop was quite lengthy on the ground floor, taking a route through to the Canon Street entrance.
Further along Fishergate and on the west side corner of Cannon Street there was Lipton Ltd. provision merchants famous for their teas of quality. The change of view of Lipton’s of 1890 as compared with the retailer on that same site today is remarkable if not disappointing at best and can be seen in the images below.
Next door to Lipton’s was a small public house known as the Mitre Hotel, formerly the Mitre & Commercial Inn during earlier times. Entrance to the Mitre was from Fishergate and through a long narrow passageway. This was due to the fact that in 1879 Anthony Hewitson, the well known writer, journalist and newspaper editor of the 19th century and proprietor of the Preston Chronicle newspaper, remodeled the front part of the premises to be able to use it as a shop premises for his business use. This establishment was used for the gatherings of ‘The Preston Pitt Club’. This being an organisation that celebrated the memory of William Pitt the younger who they believed was ‘one of the greatest statesmen this country ever produced’.
(Grateful thanks to Stephen Halliwell’s ‘Preston’s Inns, Taverns & Beerhouses’)
The final image this week is a comparison of the images from former times as to what a view of the same line of shops on Fishergate looks like nowadays in 2012.
In my opinion, there is no favourable comparison that can be made to the 1902 Preston Guild image seen previously.
I have to wonder what the readers think of the transformation!
At least one building remains intact even though it has been truncated by one storey and that is the former Thomas Mears shop which is now Costa the coffee shop.
In the next article: Part 5 of ‘Fishergate, 100 years of change’ and Part 3 here
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 rgate,100 years of change’past