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Old Preston as depicted by Edwin Beattie, what still survives?

Posted on - 8th October, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News
Patten House, demolished in 1835, by Edwin Beattie
Patten House, demolished in 1835, by Edwin Beattie

Edwin Beattie depicted Preston with an olde-worlde charm that belied the hardships of the era. He sometimes used artistic licence to improve a composition, therefore the images should not be used as a historical record. He painted in the 1890s and early 1900s but showed Preston in earlier periods. Some of the places he painted have long gone while others survive.

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Patten House

The first image shows Patten House, this was demolished in 1835 and was on Church Street opposite Grimshaw Street. The modern location is shown below. Patten House was the home of the Stanley family.

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The present location once occupied by Patten House Pic: Google Earth
The present location once occupied by Patten House Pic: Google Earth

Friargate in 1893

Friargate in 1893 by Edwin Beattie Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Friargate in 1893 by Edwin Beattie Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The painting above shows Friargate as it was in 1893, shortly after the Harris had opened. The shops on the left were demolished to improve the view of the building. At the time Friargate had a medieval look similar to the shambles in York. Tram lines can be seen in the foreground and there are also market stalls in evidence.

Walton Bridge

Walton Bridge in 1896 by Edwin Beattie Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Walton Bridge in 1896 by Edwin Beattie Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Many bridges have crossed the Ribble at Walton-le-Dale. The one in the Edwin Beattie image was built in the 18th century and widened in 1938. The structure is still in use today. Notably, the buildings on the right also survive and can be seen in the modern image below.

Walton Bridge today Pic: Google Earth
Walton Bridge today Pic: Google Earth

Read more: Preston’s bridges and the Dickens effect

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The Guild Hall and Town Hall of 1782

Preston’s Guild Hall and Town Hall as they were in 1860 by Edwin Beattie
Preston’s Guild Hall and Town Hall as they were in 1860 by Edwin Beattie

The scene above depicts Preston’s Guild Hall and Town Hall as they were in 1860. However, the buildings were soon to be demolished. This Guild Hall had opened in 1782 after another newly built hall had collapsed shortly after a ball was held. The collapsed building had been shoddily constructed. It had only been built in 1760 and fell into a heap by 1780.

By the mid-19th century, the 1782 Guild Hall was becoming dilapidated. As a result, the buildings were demolished to build another new Town Hall on the same site. This was a much grander building. The new Gothic structure opened in 1867. Unfortunately, it burned down in 1947.

Who was Edwin Beattie?

Edwin Beattie was a Preston-based artist (1845-1917) and at one time worked as an illustrator for the Preston Guardian. He had an unusual range of jobs including office worker, assistant to a photographer, and assistant surgeon. He also ran his own photography business. His work as a painter has an olde-worlde charm although he sometimes used artistic licence. He was fond of a drink and most of his income went on alcohol. He died penniless at 23 Heatley Street in central Preston on 12 February 1917.

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