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Preston in the early 1970s, apples at 10p per pound, hats and cigarettes

Posted on - 12th November, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Preston Market in 1972 Pic: Richard Jackson
Preston Market in 1972 Pic: Richard Jackson

Preston in the early 1970s was still in the thrall of redevelopment with large swathes of the town looking like bomb sites. The lead image shows the thriving market. Notable are the hats and cigarettes, once a working class uniform. The images were taken by the late Richard Jackson and show the market and town centre.

Decimal fruit on Preston Market in 1972 Pic: Richard Jackson
Decimal fruit on Preston Market in 1972 Pic: Richard Jackson

The images are full of character and atmosphere. Above is Preston market in 1972. The prices are in pence. Decimalisation had occurred in 1971 and apples were around 10p a pound. A 3lb chicken could be had for 17p.

1972 was also a period of high inflation and industrial unrest. A major miners’ strike led to the lights going out. This was due to most power generation being driven by coal burning, unlike today, where most electricity is generated by wind turbines and nuclear. Inconceivable 50 years ago, would have been the fact that there are virtually no coal mines still operating in the UK today. Steam trains ended in 1968 and heritage railways such as the Ribble Steam Railway now have to import coal from abroad.

Fashion corner under demolition

Lancaster Road in 1972, the old Co-Op building is being demolished Pic: Richard Jackson
Lancaster Road in 1972, the old Co-Op building is being demolished Pic: Richard Jackson

The building being demolished above was known as Fashion Corner and was built in 1892 by the Preston Co-op Society. The building cost £6,000 to build. Compare that to the projected £45 million for the current city centre cinema and leisure development, Animate.

Current developments

The Lancaster Road area today Pic: Google Earth

The Lancaster Road area today Pic: Google Earth
The Lancaster Road area in recent years Pic: Google Earth

Interestingly, this area is still being redeveloped today. The brown earth site in the image above was the site of the 1960s indoor market and car park. This was demolished in 2018.

Now the site is being redeveloped as the Animate scheme, there are some fascinating parallels with 50 years ago. 1972 was also a period of high inflation and industrial unrest. In fact, inflation was around 7 per cent, around the same as today. This caused demands for higher wages at the time, with the miners striking for higher pay. This was also at a time of a Conservative Government.

Another effect of inflation today is affecting the city town centre development, with costs jumping from £41 million to £45 million due to the cost of building materials rising.

Read more: Dig into more Preston history with Geoffrey

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