Underneath Preston Station there is a little known area, the bakehouse siding. The siding is still there as of 2023. There are also passages and rooms that are now used for storage, but were once used as stables, during World War I.Advertisement
While the room is still known as the bakehouse, the reason for that seems to be lost to the mists of time. Presumably, it was used as a bakery, maybe for the buffet, that was used during both World Wars.
The present station was substantially rebuilt in 1880. It was also extended in 1903 and 1913. Ultimately there were 15 platforms. A free buffet was provided for servicemen during both World Wars, and flour for bread and other food supplies, would have been brought to it via the bakehouse siding. This would have prevented the flour train from blocking the operational lines. The siding is shown as the bakehouse siding on large scale maps.
There are two subways, that are now used by the public. One was a former freight only subway that was converted to passenger use. All have lift access.
Electric trains began to run through Preston in 1973. The West Coast Mainline had been gradually electrified, with the first stretch opening in 1960. 1973 also saw construction of a new power signal box, to the north of the station. Interestingly, the first part of the line to Blackpool was also electrified, in preparation for that line’s electrification. Unfortunately, it took another 40 years for that to happen.
During World War I, horses were stabled underneath the station. Here they were fed and watered in preparation for shipping to France. The Preston Station Free Buffet Association served free drinks and biscuits to serviceman who were passing through. Preston is on a major north-south route. 400 volunteer women worked 12-hour shifts, and served over three million men. The waiting room on platforms 3 and 4, was the former site of World War I buffet and has a commemorative plaque.
Read more: Preston Station Free Buffet 1915 to 1919 commemoration event
There is also a commemorative plaque for the Preston Pals ‘D’ Company of The 7th (Service) battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. They would have left Preston Station full of trepidation. Unfortunately over 50 per cent of the Regiment were killed during the Battle of the Somme. That was 420 men out of 900.
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