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Former Booths offices in Fishergate to become flats

Posted on - 20th September, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Housing, News, Preston City Centre
The former Booths offices in Glover's Court and facing into Fishergate Pic: Tony Worrall

The former Booths offices in Glover’s Court and facing into Fishergate Pic: Tony Worrall

Abandoned offices and storage space above a Preston bookshop could become new flats.

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Plans have been submitted to redevelop the second floor and attic space above Waterstones in Fishergate.

The former storage building, which runs down into Glover’s Court, is grade II listed.

Graham Anthony Associates have tabled the plans on behalf of TSS Property Limited.

They want to create 11 ‘high quality apartments’ above Waterstones and a further four flats in the former offices to the rear of the building.

Read more: Waterstones plans to repaint its shop front

Graham Anthony’s documents state: “We consider that this statement provides an acceptable discussion surrounding the main technical issues concerning this particular application.

“It has been established that this proposal gains the support of both local and national planning policy, and represents a sustainable form of development.”

The building is within the Winckley Square Conservation Area and was previously the headquarters for supermarket chain Booths.

Read more: Victorian printworks in Glover’s Court to get emergency heritage cash

What it's like inside the former Booths offices

What it’s like inside the former Booths offices

A heritage report to planning officers states: “The conversion of the vacant parts of the building into apartments will have a beneficial impact upon the building through securing a sustainable new use.

“This benefit will outweight the minor harm to significance caused by subdivision of the former Booths cafe at second floor level.”

Read more: Major new flats plan for Glover’s Court

The full plans can be seen on the Preston City Council website and comments can be made on the plans there.

A short history of the former Booths premises in Fishergate by Paul D. Swarbrick

E.H. Booths grocers and café. 3-5 Fishergate, Preston c.1935 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

E.H. Booths grocers and café. 3-5 Fishergate, Preston c.1935 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The very ornate and well stocked interior of the Booths store c.1933

The very ornate and well stocked interior of the E.H. Booths store c.1933. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

There will be many Prestonians who will recall and may even lament the closure of the former Booths store which is the current location of Waterstones bookshop in Fishergate. Who could forget the wonderful aroma of the delicatessen and the exquisite coffees when you entered the Booths premises? They stocked an immense variety of foods from countries around the world; chocolate covered ants is one of the most unusual food items that I remember! The salubrious surroundings of the café on the first floor had a feeling of antiquity about it, with the service staff dressed in immaculate traditional black and white uniforms and best china pottery on the tables; it was certainly worth visiting just for the experience alone. As a young lad, I recall going to lunch there on one particular occasion with my gran and we had fish. It was the very first time I had been presented with a fish knife among the cutlery; I have to say that I had not a clue as what to do with it and proceeded to use it as an oral shovel – much to my gran’s disbelief!

Built in 1859, a property with the address of 4 Fishergate was occupied by E.H. Booth & Co in 1867 when they relocated from their original premises at the Market Place, where they had been in business since 1859. The building was extended towards Glovers Court in 1915 and it became one of Preston’s most prestigious grocery stores, and subsequently, a silver service café above the ground floor.

Entrance to Glovers Court, Fishergate in 1910 before it was widened in 1913. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Entrance to Glovers Court, Fishergate in 1910 before it was widened in 1913. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Up to the extensive alterations this building was originally of much smaller proportions and at that time, Glovers Court was accessed from Fishergate through a narrow passageway under the premises of what was, in the late nineteenth century, Preston’s very first telephonic exchange. In the image immediately above, Glovers Court can be viewed through the underpass left of centre and the building at the far left was at this time owned by Freeman Hardy and Willis, the shoe retailers, until the Booths redevelopment in 1915.

Mayoral Procession, Fishergate, 1902 Preston Guild. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Mayoral Procession, Fishergate, 1902 Preston Guild. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

In the image immediately above of a 1902 Preston Guild procession, the E.H. Booths store with its three arched windows can be seen with the former Old Legs of Man coaching house to the left and what was Jones the drapers to the right. Subsequently, Booths would take over the buildings to the right and up to Glovers Court, demolish them and extend their store.
The Old Legs of Man coaching inn was demolished around 1930, when the site was taken over by the District Bank for their new extension which would then adjoin the Booths premises

Mrs. Alice Haydock visits the Booths Café for the final time before its closure. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Mrs. Alice Haydock visits the Booths café for the final time before its closure. Pic: Preston Digital Archive

There is a very endearing story of a lady known as Mrs. Haydock who had frequented the restaurant every day since it opened in 1948 and made her final visit when the store closed down in the late 1980’s; this being a wonderful accolade to Booths for the quality of their wares and service during the life of the store and café.

Do you have any memories of the former Booths building? What do you think of the plans? Let us know in the comments below

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