Although now piped and culverted, the location of Preston’s streams can still be found in the names of its streets. One of the main streams, Moor Brook, can be traced along its course by the contour of the streets under which it flows. The first notable one is the dip in Deepdale Road where it flows underground between the Corporation Bus Garage and the Ambulance Station and from then on to St. Paul’s Road. Here, the valley of the brook has been filled in from the time it was used as the town’s refuse dump. Houses on the west side of St. Paul’s Road have found this out to their sorrow, when miniature landslides carried away some of their back-yards and gardens. The continuation of the stream was used to feed the lodge of Brunswick Mill, from where, until the late 1920’s, it ran as an open sewer along Rye Street to vanish again under Kent Street. From there it ran on through a chain of lodges serving several mills, including Broomfield Mill and Brookfield Mill. The last named took its name from the field by the brook and gave its name to Brookfield Street. After passing under Garstang Road, near to the present Moor Lane Roundabout, its course ran alongside the appropriately named Moorbrook Street where it supplied water for several more mills. The dip in Plungington Road reveals the depth of the stream’s original valley, from where it continues towards Brook Street and another mill-lodge, this being jointly fed by a runner from the Springfield that names Springfield Street. The steep sides of Greenbank Street represent the former green banks of the stream’s valley. Shortly after, the stream flows under the lower part of Bold Street, although in very wet weather it has a nasty habit of coming to the surface and flowing through the houses in the dip. The Aqueduct Mills were also fed by the Moor Brook, and beyond there was a large house and grounds on the north bank, Brook House, which gave its name to Brookhouse Street. The course then ran towards the Aqueduct (now demolished) which carried the Lancaster and Kendal Canal over the road and gave the name to Aqueduct Street, then along Water Lane to Watery Lane where it joined the River Ribble (that is before the river was diverted for the construction of the Albert Edward Dock).
Another important stream was the Syke, which had its source somewhere in the region of St Saviour’s Church, from where it flowed down the hill now known as Syke Hill and along Syke Street, where it fed the Avenham Mill reservoir, then under Cross Street and Winckley Square Gardens. The hollow in Chapel Street and the bottom end of Mount Street marks its further course. From here, it passes under the southern end of the railway station and can be traced through the dip formed at the junction of Walton’s Parade and West Cliff Terrace, and eventually to its con fluence with the River Ribble on Broadgate. The name syke comes from the Old English sic which merely means a stream. One of the main feeders of the Syke joined it near the present junction of Syke Hill and Avenham Lane after flowing along Shepherd Street. This was the out flow from Cocker Hole, which was near to the Church Street end of Manchester Road. Cocker Hole is marked on the plan of 1684, but its existence came as a surprise to workmen during excavations on Church Street, a little to the east of Manchester Road (then called Water Street). In 1852, they removed some stone flags from just below the surface of the road to reveal a-well. The well had been erected over a spring which supplied Syke Brook. It resembled a vault, two yards deep, four yards long and three yards wide, with a flagged bottom. On one of the stone slabs which covered the well was the inscription: William Turner Maior George Addison Lawrence Farringdon Baylives anno 1664 .The lower end of Manchester Road from Church Street to Shepherd Street was called Water Street, probably from the time that an open stream ran from Cocker Hole to the Syke.
In 1654, a well was sunk “in the bottom of the Market Stidd”. This was probably near the old Fish Stones pump. An open sewer, which took the over flow, ran down the centre of Friargate. This joined up with Brown’s Channel which crossed Friargate in the dip opposite Lune Street. A small stream, possibly a drainage gully, ran down between Colley’s Garden and Tenter Hey, the field that names Tenterfield Street, into the Starch House Square, from where, after receiving more water from a draw-well in Back Lane, it formed the aforesaid Brown’s Channel. From the lower end of Lune Street it flowed along Fleet Street; the dips in Corporation Street and the bottom of Pitt Street pinpoint its course. From there it flowed down to the marsh to join the River Ribble close to the Strand Road end of Marsh Lane. It is named on old maps as Furham or Suckling Syke. It was used as a feeder to the canal wharf on Corporation Street, which gave the name to Wharf Street and the stream or fleet named Fleet Street. One of its tributaries was a stream that had its source at a spring in or near Bow Lane (formerly called Spring Street). The field nearby was called Springfield, naming Springfield House which, in turn, named Springfield Place. Springhead was the name of a field on the north side of the upper part of Fishergate Hill. Spring Bank, a short road that connects Flshergate Hill with Christ Church Street, crosses the higher portion of the land which formed this field. There was a very copious spring here, and the water from it ran down a deep depression on the north side of the field. The Preston historian Anthony Hewitson, writes:
In a cellar under a shop at the south-east corner of Euston Street, directly in line with and a short distance – between 70 and 80 yards – from Spring Bank, there is now a full-flowing spring of water. This water unquestionably comes from the old “Springhead” land; and it now runs into a drain or street sewer. Formerly this was allowed to accumulate in a well-shaped hole in or close to the cellar and many neighbouring people got water from it.
Off Pitt Street was Dock Street, this street ran through to Corporation Street, giving access to the canal wharf but was cut in two when the Preston to Lancaster Railway was built. Lune Street was opened in 1802 to ease the flow of goods vehicles from the wharf to the mills in the town centre The name pertains to Lancaster’s River Lune. Another street that ran parallel with the canal from Fishergate to Marsh Lane was Water Street West. This was also curtailed by the railway – the remaining top part of the street later became known as Falkland Street.
A stream that flowed down Walker Street powered the water-wheel of Preston’s first cotton mill, built at the junction of Moor Lane and Walker Street by Collinson and Watson in 1777. It crossed the bottom end of Friargate, where it was known as Brand’s Channel, and then followed the line of Kendal Street, earlier known as Canal Street. It then went under the new Polytechnic Building and the now filled-in canal. The original course of the stream passed under Leighton Street where it was joined by a flow from the Ladywell that names Ladywell Street. The Ladywell supplied water to the Friary; this was rediscovered in 1761 when excavations for the canal unearthed the leaden conduit that conveyed water to the Friary. Further on, the stream received water from the spring that fed the well in the Well Field, naming Wellfield Road. This stream was the Swagwellesyke mentioned in relation to the situation of Maud’s Spittal and was later known as Spittal Syke or, alternatively, as Moss Brook. It joined up with Suckling Syke near to the lower end of Marsh Lane.
The Swill Brook that has its source in the upper New Hall Lane area has little in fluence on street names, although it was quite important industrially and domestically. It supplied water for the lodges of several mills and, as its name implies, was used for domestic washing – referred to as ‘washing stidd’. It had an open length at the end of Halsbury Street and into Frenchwood Park before emptying itself into the River Ribble near the Old Tram Bridge. The only name that can be associated with this stream is Swillbrook Lane, which leads down from Frenchwood Avenue to Walton Bridge, although in my younger days I knew this lane as Strawberry Bank.
The River Ribble itself, naturally, has quite an in fluence on street and place names in Preston. Ribbleton, a place in its own right before the 11th century, was then spelt Ribelton, the tun or estate on the Ribble. It gives the name to Ribbleton Lane, Ribbleton Avenue, Ribbleton Street, Ribbleton Place and also to Ribbleton Hall which was the original manor house, This, in turn, names the newer streets of Ribbleton Hall Drive and Ribbleton Hall Crescent. Overlooking Avenham Park and the Ribble Valley are the stately houses of Ribblesdale Place, now mainly in use as offices or doctors’ consulting rooms, but formerly the exclusive residences of Preston’s gentry. In the Broadgate area are Ribbleside, River Parade and River Crescent, the streets leading down to the river from Bow Lane have the names Ribble Street and River Street, while Ribblebank Street overlooked the river. Strand Road ran alongside the shore or strand of the river before its course was diverted to make way for the docks. One of Preston’s newest roads, the continuation of Watery Lane to Lea Gate, has the name Riversway. Incidentally, at the opposite end of the town is another, lesser known, Watery Lane which leads down from Fishwick View to the river at Fishwick Bottoms. Another ancient road that followed the course of the river is Chain Caul Lane, the caul or jetty taking its name from the nearby Old Chain House. There were several cauls or caulds on the river. In 1853, it was recorded that a dredger was employed near the Savick Caul, a locality that had hitherto been an obstruction to navigation. Peter Whittle’s ‘History of the Borough of Preston’ mentions “a couple of jetties or cauls on the Holme”.
There were several mineral springs in Preston where people could take the waters or even bathe in them. One such spring or spa gave the name to Cold Bath Street which originally led from Fylde road, in a line parallel to Pedder Street, to Spa Brow. The Brow together with Spa Street and Spa Road refer to a chalybeate (iron- flavoured) spring overlooking West Strand Road. This became Preston’s first public baths, built in 1708 at a cost defrayed by William Rawsthorne and others on land belonging to the town. On completion, it was leased to them by the Mayor, Bailiffs and Burgesses for 39 years at a rental of two shillings a year. In the lease, the premises were described as “a well or cistern for cold bething and a convenient house belonging thereto at the bottom of the hill near to the Marsh Mill Dam”. There was a reservation of the “free liberty for skinners to wash and cleanse their skins at the stream or current of waste water running from the said baths”. These baths were in use until about 1860. At the lower end of Fylde Road is Bath Street, named from the public slipper baths there. The bath houses, now converted into two dwelling-houses, can still be seen at the corner of Bath Street with Fylde Road.
Most of the wells and springs that abounded in the town have already been dealt with, but, before the advent of piped water, there were many districts where the public water supply was from a community pump. It seems strange that only one street in the town records the presence of a pump, namely Pump Street off St. Paul’s Road.
Savick Brook, or the River Savock as it was known in the 13th century, is not identified with any early street names. There is a Savick Road in the lower Black Bull Lane district, but this is on a housing estate built only in the 1930’s. Preston Corporation has an estate on the south side of the Savick Brook at Lea, with a Savick Avenue and the whole estate taking the name Savick. Eaves Brook, which forms the boundary between Preston and Fulwood, rises in the upper part of Ribbleton, originally known as Ribbleton Eaves, from which the stream takes its name. The only road, actually a cul-de-sac, that can be associated with the brook is Brookfield Avenue off Watling Street Road. Further along Watling Street is a council estate with the name Brookfield, and the green belt bordering the stream has been dubbed Brookfield Park.
Apart from streets named from local waterways, quite a number have river names. These are usually in groups, the largest concentration being in the lower Ashton area. Calder Street, Clyde Street, Dart Street, Dee Street, and Mersey Street are all off Watery Lane, while nearby are Wyre Street and Tweed Street. Hull Street, also off Watery Lane, may refer to the River Hull. The next street, however, is called Beverley Street and, as Beverley is the City of Hull’s East Riding neighbour, the person who named the street could have had the city in mind. Broadgate has a Tyne Street and a Tay Street and, on the town’s Harewood Road Estate are an Exe Street, a Tees Street, and a Cam Street. The Frenchwood end of Manchester Road goes to Italy for its rivers, with Tiber Street and Arno Street, while, still further afield, is Fishergate’s Jordan Street. The West Country’s Tamar is an isolated river street name in the Fishwick Hall district.