On this day … 31 March 1849

The Preston Guardian reported that work had started on Stephenson Terrace on Deepdale Road. The imposing sandstone terrace on the eastern side of the Deepdale Enclosure in Deepdale Road, Preston, is unmistakeably named Stephenson Terrace: the name being prominently emblazoned in a panel set high up at the centre of the row. What is almost certainly wrong, however, is to associate the name with the famous father and son railway engineers.

Stephenson Terrace Preston
The image that accompanies the record of Stephenson Terrace’s Grade II listing. https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101292456-stephenson-terrace-preston#.W9mQgfYRdpg

The mistake has persisted from its first occurrence in Charles Hardwick’s History of Preston, published in 1857, shortly after the terrace was completed in 1850, ‘The handsome stone terrace was erected by Mr. George Mould, contractor, and named after the celebrated engineer.’ Hardwick was correct in identifying George Mould as the builder, but if by ‘the celebrated engineer’ he intended George Stephenson, who had recently died, or his son, Robert, then he was mistaken.

The terrace is instead almost certainly named for John Stephenson, the brother-in-law of George Mould, as is made clear in Mannex’s trade directory for the town published in 1851:

Stephenson terrace is a superb line of buildings, on the east side of Deepdale road, immediately opposite East View. This magnificent Grecian terrace is the property of George Mould, Esq., civil engineer, and was erected by him in 1849-50 on land purchased from the corporation of Preston … On the entablature in the centre parapet is cut in alto relieve, the words, ‘Stephenson Terrace’, the buildings being dedicated to the late John Stephenson, Esq. who was brother-in-law to the proprietor.

When this description appeared, Mannex had an office nearby at 12 St Ignatius Square. The staff would have witnessed the building of the terrace, and they would probably have been acquainted with George Mould. The description of the terrace and the identification of John Stephenson were repeated in subsequent Mannex directories. If the identification was wrong then surely George Mould or others with local knowledge would have obtained a correction. Hardwick must have been unaware of the entry, or have discounted it.

Advert for Stephenson Terrace Preston
The first advert for the terrace in the Preston Chronicle

In fact, John Stephenson (1794-1848) was himself a celebrated railway engineer. Although no relation to George Stephenson, he worked with him on the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1824, he himself going on to become one of the country’s leading railway contractors. He was regarded as the man on whose advice George Stephenson had relied greatly since the construction of the earliest portions of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. [4]

George Mould would have started work on Stephenson Terrace shortly after his brother-in-law’s death and so the naming provided a fitting memorial. The two men had worked closely together for a number of years with John Stephenson as the railway contractor and George Mould as his manager, engaging in very sizeable and complicated undertakings.

This was the time when the railway mania was reaching its peak, and in 1846 the Fleetwood, Preston and West Riding Railway company had been established to provide a rail link between Lancashire and Yorkshire, utilising the existing Preston and Wyre and Preston and Longridge lines, which would be linked by the ‘Miley Tunnel’ from Deepdale to Maudland. George Mould’s tender of £69,500 was accepted for the construction of the link, and work started the following year.

The Preston and Longridge Railway Company had built a tramway in 1840, linking the newly opened Tootle Heights Quarry at Dilworth to a station at Deepdale. The terminus for this line was directly behind where Stephenson Terrace now stands. The line facilitated the economical use of Longridge stone in the construction of Fulwood Barracks … and in the building of Stephenson Terrace.

When Preston Council commissioned an appraisal of the site in 2008, the authors continued the attribution to the wrong George Stephenson, and got the date of construction wrong by following the incorrect dating on the Ordnance Survey map. The map also has the label ‘old station’ when the new station had yet to be built (see yesterday’s post):

By 1849 there are houses all along the east side of Deepdale Road; the buildings above the junction with Deepdale Street are Stephenson’s Terrace. The list description [which gives the terrace a grade 2 listing] states that these houses were built c.1847-51, but the map evidence would seem to indicate that 1847-9 is more likely to be the correct date. … The terrace was built by a local contractor, George Mould, and named after the famous engineer, George Stephenson.

1840s plan of Stephenson Terrace Preston
The 1840s Ordnance Survey plan of Preston: https://maps.nls.uk/view/231280344

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