With the current debate about the non functioning clock of the Baptist Church in Fishergate, we started to think of other clocks around the old town that have vanished and what they meant to Prestonians over time gone by. Indeed, the Baptist Church clock in Fishergate is very well known by most of the inhabitants of Preston and many will remember a time when it worked well displaying the accurate time to all who gazed upon it.Advertisement
Originally, the church, built in 1852 and designed by James Hibbert, the architect of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, had no clock but an appeal was made to the townsfolk by the Town Corporation to subscribe to the cost of a clock to be installed into the tower. The appeal was successful and the Town Corporation agreed to maintain the clock in order that travellers approaching Preston Railway Station would be able to tell the time. For a short period, the clock face was lit by gas; however, there were complaints about the expense in the running costs of the lighting which resulted in the abandonment of the gas lighting in 1867. The clock was lit once more in 1882 for the Preston Guild.
The photograph immediately below was taken of a Fishergate scene in 1903, which was used as a Preston postcard and features the Baptist Church; what is unusual about this picture is that if you look closely at the spire on the tower summit, you can see a steeple jack doing some maintenance work. The inset to the right of the picture shows a better view of the steeple jack.
One of the most prominent clock tower’s in Preston was the one on the former George Gilbert Scott Town Hall which was completed in 1866 and burned down in March 1947. There was hardly a location in Preston where you could not see the clock face. With a total height of the spire being 113 feet and each of the four clock dials being 9 feet 6 inches, it is little wonder that it could be seen for miles around.
In the first draft of the design, Scott designed the spire to be of lesser height; however, the Preston Corporation was insistent that it be raised from the original planned height so that people who arrived at Preston Railway Station would be able to see the clock all the way along Fishergate. Nowadays, the concept of such an indulgence in the extravagance of the subsequent cost would not even be considered; and besides, everyone has one or more means on their person of being able to tell the time.
Finally, one more clock that many Prestonians will recall is the one which was located for many years over the Preston Corporation Transport/Traffic Department offices in Lancaster Road. With there being so many bus stops along there it was always useful to be able to catch what time it was so that you could know when your bus would appear to take you home. This clock was also a great meeting place as in “I’ll meet you under the clock on Lancaster Road”. This was always a great location to meet-up as it was quite central to all the places of entertainment and many public houses that were dotted around the town centre.
You can see thousands of old Preston pictures and documents on the Preston Digital Archive.
Do you recall any other town clocks which have now vanished from sight in Preston? Let us know in the comments below.