As the Preston Guild is now upon us I have been recalling to memory what was originally built on the site on which the Preston Guild Hall, completed in 1972, now stands.
I am certain that many readers will well remember this area, and there will be some younger people who will have very little idea of what was there prior to the construction of the Guild Hall. Essentially the three main roadways that surround the Guild Hall, Lancaster Road, Lord Street and Tithebarn Street, have been in existence for many years and the site on which it is built was the home for a few narrow passageways and various business premises.
Our first photograph in Image(1) is of a part of the east side of Lancaster Road. All the buildings seen here, up to and including the Ribble Motor Services office, were swept away to make way for the new Guild Hall. The Ribble Motor Services office can be seen between a narrow passageway known as Wards End, on the left side of the offices; and to the right side there was Kenyons pastry and confectioners shop, and adjacent to Kenyons, is a building which still remains to this day, which is the Stanley Arms. When the Guild Hall was built a narrow road between the Guild Hall and the Stanley Arms was constructed and was then named Wards End in commemoration of the ancient passageway that was in earlier existence.
On the left side of the old Wards End there was The Guild Boot Repairing Company Ltd., Boot Repairers followed by The Tea Bar, a much loved place of refreshment by Prestonians around that time. Moving to the far left side of the block, on the corner of Lancaster Road and Lord Street, as illustrated in Image(2), there was a tall building which, in the early 1900’s was partly occupied by the Roebuck Inn as shown in Image(3). Image(2) also shows the old Derby Arms public house on Lord Street.
Wards End was a very convenient ‘short cut’ for Prestonians, and in everyday use to gain access to the Ribble Bus Station. Whilst walking along this quaint ancient place people would pass various business premises, one being, the Golden Lion public house just on the left side as you entered Wards End from Lancaster Road as can be seen in Image(4), and in Image(5), viewing from the east side of Wards End, you can get a better perspective of the location by the view in the background of Lancaster Road and of the Harris Museum & Library.
Up to the late 1960’s, Lord Street remained much the same for many years, apart from the construction of the Ribble Bus Station around 1927. The photograph from 1912 in Image(6) shows a westerly view from the junction of Tithebarn Street and Lord Street. The buildings to the left side of the premises of T.C. Holden Ltd, which is just left of centre, were swept away to build the Ribble Bus Station as can be seen in Image(7). It is interesting to note that the 1912 image of Lord Street shows, in the distance, the west side of Lancaster Road and the buildings that existed then prior to the 1930’s construction of the Municipal Buildings or Town Hall as it is now known.
In the late 1960’s plans had been drawn up by architects Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshal and partners to construct a new Guild Hall for Preston and the site chosen was that of the old Ribble Bus Station and all the existing buildings, roads and alleyways in that block area. The New Bus Station was already in operation and therefore it was all go ahead to start work. The Ribble Bus Station was the first item on the agenda to be demolished, and so it was. The photograph in Image(8) shows a view of that area following the Bus Station demolition.
Shortly after the demolition of the Bus Station the remaining part of the site was swept away very quickly and work commenced on the foundations of the new Preston Guild Hall as can be seen in Image(9).
Preston Guild Hall is an octagonal building designed for the 2000 seater concert hall and was officially opened on May 11th 1973 after many trials and tribulations concerning builders strikes and the like. It appears to be one of those ‘love it or loathe it’ type of buildings and in its past has had various nicknames such as ‘the Preston Pomegranate’ and ‘the Terrible Toadstool’. However, Prestonians seem to have warmed to it somewhat over the years and it is still looked upon as the main entertainment venue in Preston even though it does appear that the halcyon days of this establishment have passed.
This article showcases photos from the brilliant Preston Digital Archive which is an online archive of images of Preston’s past.
Paul D. Swarbrick.