On this day … 29 March 1862

The Preston Guardian reported that the corporation was planning a shopping arcade on the site of Gin Bow Entry, linking the Market Place and Lancaster Road. It was part of the plans to upgrade the ‘shopping experience’ in the town, which also included proposals for what eventually became the present Covered Market. The shopping arcade never even got as far as the drawing board, and the town had to wait for the opening of the Miller Arcade at the end of the century to give Preston shoppers a taste of metropolitan sophistication.

Gin Bow Entry 1840s map Preston
1840s plan of Preston, showing the sites of the proposed shopping arcade and the later Covered Market. National Library of Scotland: https://maps.nls.uk/view/231280359

The failure of the scheme spared the area around Gin Bow Entry from demolition for a few years, although work had already begun on reshaping the district, starting with the opening of Lancaster Road.

Section of Lang's map of Preston 1774
Part of George Lang’s 1774 map of Preston. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpsmithbarney/4062981796/

The Lancaster Road development was first proposed in 1827 to run through Molyneux Square to the corner of what was then known as ‘Mrs Chadwick’s Orchard’, later becoming just the Orchard, and later still the Covered Market, with just the naming of Orchard Street retaining its memory. Before it was the Orchard it was Colley’s Garden, where, according to Hewitson in his History of Preston, as late as 1815, ‘… there was a moat or ditch around the ground, and cows at this time grazed amongst the trees it contained; the entrance gate being near where Lancaster-road now intersects Lord-street.’

For a while, the land still preserved its rural feel, until in November 1821, again according to Hewitson:

… this place was done away with as an orchard, and the erection of buildings about its sides was commenced. The late Mr. Samuel Cartwright once informed us that he plucked the last apple in the Orchard. The trees had just been cut down, and, seeing an apple on one of the branches, he got it. This would most likely be in the summer of 1821, shortly before the Orchard was opened out, at the sides, for building purposes.

The Molyneux Square that Lancaster Road replaced was an early example of gentrification by the family that gave its name to the square. Thomas Molyneux built a square of elegant houses in what had previously been known as Arram’s Backside, part of the remaining estate of the ancient family, the Prestons of Preston. Stretching from there to Church Street he built a range of butchers’ shops.

According to Peter Whittle in his Preston history:

A stone tablet is placed immediately over the archway at the entrance out of Church-street, bearing the following inscription :—“These Shambles were built Anno. Dom. 1715, by Thos. Molyneux, Esq. second son of Sir Jno. Molyneux, Bart. of Teversal, in ye county of Nottingham,” surmounted by the coat armour of this family of Des Moulines, or Molyneux …

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