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In pictures: A visit to the former Preston Magistrates’ Court and Police Station

Posted on - 7th September, 2013 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - History, Photos, Preston City Centre
Former Preston Magistrates' Court & Police Station

This is a recent view of the Earl Street Side of Amounderness House which was the former police station. The old cells right of centre are slightly set back and a small brick, stone and ironwork structure can be seen in the corner. This was to prevent potential ‘muggers’ from lurking there in an attempt to attack passers by.

Have you ever passed the old former Police Station and Court House on Lancaster Road / Earl Street and wondered about its origins and history? Well, you can now discover the fascinating details of how the place came to be and see for yourself how the abandoned interior looks in the present day.

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Prior to 1857, the borough magistrates, held their court at the Town Hall or Moot Hall in Fishergate at the location where Crystal House now exists; at that time the police station was in Avenham Street.
Spacious premises, from designs by architects Messrs Park, Son & Garlic, were, however, in the process of being built, in Lancaster Road, which would afford superior facilities for the transaction of this department of the public business.

In 1832, previous to the erection of the new police station, the “lock-up” as it was known, was situated up a dismal alley branching from Turk’s Head Court, this being the Avenham Street establishment, a massive structure which afforded sufficient accommodation for the police requirements; but the site having been purchased at that time by Messrs. Jacson and Co., cotton spinners, with the view to the enlargement of their premises, the erection of new police buildings became necessary.

It was also decided to erect a suitable court in connection with the police station, the Town Hall being ill adapted for the transaction of the magisterial business. The ground floor of the new building comprised of a magistrates clerk’s room, superintendent’s office, book keeper’s and general police office, store room, washing room, and four cells. The upper story comprised of a private room for the magistrates, jury or attorney’s room, three cells, and a court house, forty feet long by thirty-two feet wide. The principal entrance, in Lancaster road, presented a front of fifty feet. The depth of the building, with front to Earl Street, is one hundred and four feet, which included an entrance for police business.

The cost, including fire-proof floors, internal fittings, etc., was approximately £3,000. The architectural character of the building may be described as an adaptation of the Italian manner to modern and local requirements.

The borough police station and magistrates room was enlarged in 1902 by J.H. Park, the additions, including court room, additional accommodation for the magistrates, and a large parade room for the constables. The borough police force consists of chief constable, one superintendent, one chief inspector and chief clerk, two detective inspectors, two detective sergeants, four detective constables, five inspectors, 14 sergeants and 100 constables, making a total of 130 on the force.

On 19th June 2013 the Preston Historical Society were kindly given permission by Preston City Council to gain access to Amounderness House to inspect the interior and take photographs of  various parts of the building, police cells and court rooms. It was a quite an interesting experience and to our delight the old place was not in such bad condition, in fact, a lot better than we expected due to constant maintenance being carried out by the City Council.

Amounderness House Plan Level 1

Amounderness House, Former Preston Magistrates’ Court and Police Station, Ground Level Plan Showing Original 1857 and the 1902 extensions

During our visit, it became apparent that quite a large section of the interior had been modernised over time, with completely refurbished court, legal profession and facility rooms. Throughout the premises, large sections of the false ceiling had been removed revealing some of the original 19th century ceiling, cornice and frieze plaster mouldings. In certain places there were signs of some of the original pipe work and radiators for the hot water, coal or coke fired, heating system.

A large selection of the images captured during the visit can be viewed in the Flickr Slideshow below.

The society would like to express their gratitude to the City Council for kindly allowing us to make the very fascinating and historically rewarding visit to Amounderness House.

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