On this day … 29 January 1870

On 29 January 1870, the Preston Guardian reported that Joseph Clayton, of the Soho Foundry, Preston, had been offered the contract to build a covered market for £6,070, something the council had been planning for more than thirty years.

Preston Covered Market August 1870 (panorama)
Source: Barney Smith’s Preston Digital Archive, which includes the following caption, ‘Preston Covered Market August 1870 (panorama) Photographed by Robert Pateson … Orchard Chapel (in Liverpool Street) is seen in the left background. Also in view are Lancaster Road Congregational Church and the Black-a-Moor Pub’

Mr Clayton, whose bid was the cheapest, soon had cause to regret his successful tender, for the project was beset by difficulties, culminating in the total collapse in August of the almost completed structure when thirty-one of the thirty-two pillars and the roof had been erected.

The Preston Guardian reported that at approximately 7.30 am, ‘…all at once, without the least warning, a great portion of the vast fabric — in fact the whole which had been roofed in — fell with a tremendous crash to the ground.’ Ten men were working on site at the time, five of them on the roof. Nine of the men, including four on the roof, escaped injury, the tenth, Thomas Bateson, was seriously injured but eventually recovered.

Clayton withdrew from the project and returned his original advance of £2,300. Eventually, the job was taken on by local shipbuilder William Allsup, who finished the work by November 1875, at a cost of £9,126.

Hewitson in his History of Preston published in 1883 gives an idea of how the market operated at that time. The two days set aside for hay and straw indicate how large a part horses played in the life of the town in those days:

The Covered Market, in the Orchard, is now used, on Monday, for the sale of fents, smallware, furniture, &c.; on Tuesday, for the sale of hay and straw; on Wednesday, for fruit, vegetables, and butter; on Thursday, for hay and straw; and on Saturday, for fruit, vegetables, butchers’ meat, &c.

The market was refurbished and enclosed in glass panels in 2018. It is now a Grade II listed landmark structure.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covered_Market,_Preston

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