On this day … 27 December 1873

The Preston Guardian reported that the corporation had bought a large number of properties in Lord Street, Market Place, Gin Bow Entry, Old Shambles, Lancaster Road, and other streets in the area, paving the way for their demolition and the complete remaking of the Market Place district. At this date the town centre had a vernacular charm, the product of centuries of organic growth. In the future: Crystal House.

Having bought the properties and begun demolition, which included the timber-framed 17th-century houses (tragic loss) on the south side of the market place, the corporation was slow to get on with its improvements. The 1890s map pictured shows that twenty years later there was still a way to go. In fact, it was not until 1934 that the final piece of the reconstruction jigsaw was put in place with the completion of the municipal buildings in Lancaster Road, now the town hall.

The creation of Lancaster Road, which took place between the 1840s and 1890s OS surveys, took out Molyneux Square, named for an early 18th-century gentrification by Thomas Molyneux of the more prosaically named Arram’s Backside.

Many of the properties were captured on camera before their demolition, and can now be found on Barney Smith’s Preston Digital Archive Flickr site. Simply put the above street names into the search box to retrieve a lost Preston.

This item was prompted by an entry in Preston historian Henry L. Kirby’s four-volume digest of articles in the Preston Guardian covering the period from 1844 to 1905.

Preston Market Place 1840.
Preston Market Place in the 1840s
The New Crystal House Office Block, Preston 1964
Preston Market Place in the 1960s

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