Preston Street Names – Chapter 2

Early Preston

In the Domesday Book entry for Penwortham it states: “… there is ½ a fishery, woodland and eyries of Hawks.” The other half of this fishery probably belonged to Preston, although it does not get a specific mention. It was from this fishery in the 5th/6th century that the first Anglian settlers made their way along the same trodden path used by the earlier Celts to give it the name Fishers Weg – the fishermen’s way. In the 11th century the Scandinavian influence on the Old English language caused the name to be changed to Fishergate (gate, from the Old Norse gata = a way or thoroughfare). Prior to the coming of the Anglians, the Romans had built two roads that skirted the town. One on the east side followed a line corresponding with the present London Road and continued northwards through Fulwood to Lancaster and beyond. The other one to the north of the town, in Fulwood, was the Roman supply road from Segantiorum Portus on the estuary of the River Wyre to the Roman camp at Bremetennacum (Ribchester). This road now has the name of Watling Street. In a boundary revision of 1228, the Fulwood section of the road was known as Uchtredgate.

Preston’s first church of St. Wilfrid was attached to the Bishopric of Ripon and took its name from Wilfrid, the first abbot of Ripon and founder of Ripon Cathedral. The extension of Fishergate to and beyond the church became Churchgate, later Churchgate Street, and now Church Street. The residential part of Churchgate extended as far as the Churchgate Bar which was somewhere near the present junction with Manchester Road. The continuation eastward was known as Finkle or Fenkell Street, the Fishergate Bar was near to what is now Mount Street.

The crest or symbol of Wilfrid was a lamb described in heraldry as ‘statant regardant’, that is in a standing position looking backwards. This standing lamb can be seen on early seals and chalices and became the crest for Preston. In 1581 the church was rededicated to St. John the Divine by order of Dr. Chadderton, Bishop of Chester, and the former name of St Wilfrid was forbidden to be used in future. With St. John as the patronal saint, the ‘couchant’ or lying down lamb of St. John replaced Wilfrid’s. Incidentally, what was probably the first hostelry in Preston had the name “The Holy Lamb” and was situated on or near the site of the present offices of the Lancashire Evening Post.

In or about the 12th century, a group of friars established friary near to where St. Mary’s R.C. Chapel now stands on Friargate Brow. They moved later to a site off Marsh Lane near to Ladywell Street. The road that they took into the town centre became Fryersgate and the present Marsh Lane was Fryer Lane.

Returning to Church Street, branching off right opposite the church was Vicarage Street leading to the church’s tithe barn and vicarage. These were situated at the corner of Tithebarn Street and the street which is now called the Old Vicarage. The tithe barn became Cardwell Brewery and then was used as a warehouse till it was finally demolished to make way for the St. John’s Shopping Centre. Clark’s Yard, also off Church Street and now renamed Guild Row, housed the Clerks of the Parish.

Preston’s first Town Hall was situated on the western side of the block-on which the-Miller Arcade now stands. It was mainly a timber building, flanked on one side by the Broad Shambles and on the other by the Narrow Shambles.

The existence of the Narrow Shambles was revealed only in 1952 when a detailed plan of Preston was presented to the Lancashire Record Office. It had been drawn up by an unknown surveyor and dated 1684. He gave not only the plan of the town’s streets, but also the dimensions of each house, shop, and other buildings, together with the names of the occupants. The Shambles were the butcher’s shops, the name coming from the Old English sceamol = a bench, referring to the benches used for cutting-up the meat.

The Narrow Shambles led from Church Street to the south east corner of the market place, now better known as the Flag Market. On the opposite side of the market is Cheapside, meaning literally the place to trade, from the Old English ceap = to barter. It was here that bull-baiting was practised; the lead boss let into the stone flag that held the iron ring to which the bull was tethered can still be seen.

Stonygate in 1796
Stonygate 1796: (Detail from a painting by W. Orme). The old parish church (in the background) was rebuilt in 1853/5.

Stonygate or Stonygate Street as it was named on old town plans, was once the main road from the town centre to the south. Dr Kuerden, in 1684, described it as:

… another remarkable passage towards Rible Bridge through the churchyard. southward by the Publiq Schoole and an ancient place called Chappel of Avenham over by the Swillbrook southward, by west field to the aforesaid Bridge of Rible; and this passage is called Stonygate being the greatest foot tract to the Burrough of Preston.

Stonygate Preston c. 1930
Stonygate circa 1930: Once one of the leading fashionable streets of Preston, it began to deteriorate after World War I.

The upper end of the street was dominated by the Parish Church of St John, while at the lower end of the street was Dr Shepherd’s Library, the Grammar School and the Headmaster’s house. The latter, now known as Arkwright House, was where Richard Arkwright developed his water frame spinning mule. Later the house became, in turn, a public house and then a working men’s hostel. In the 1950s it fell into disrepair, but was saved from demolition when a preservation order was placed upon it. It has now been refurbished and is occupied by Age Concern as a Social Centre and restaurant.

No less blood-thirsty was the then popular entertainment of cock-fighting. There were several cockpits in the town, two of which can still be identified in the names of the Old Cock Yard in Church Street and the New Cock Yard in Fishergate. The individual contests or bouts were known as ‘mains’ and the lane or wynd that led to the cockpit is now known as Main Sprit Weind. The spelling on the 1684 plan is Mins Pitt Wynd, other spellings are Mainspritt Wynd (1655), Minspit Weend (1702) and Main Spit Weind (1830). It is the intrusive ‘r’ that has misled many researchers as to the meaning of the name, which is merely a misinterpretation of Mains Pit Weind, literally Cock Pit Lane. In the 17th century, it was alternatively known as Dundee Lane after John Graham, Viscount Dundee, a Royalist who was honoured for his efforts in the suppression of the Covenanters.

On the east side of the Market Place, on the site of the Harris Free Library and Museum, was an enclosure known as Molyneux Square with a narrow passage entry or gin which bore the name of Gin Bow Entry. The Gin Bow consisted mainly of inns and alehouses to cater for the needs of the market people. In the period prior to the clearing of the site to make way for the Harris Free Library and Museum, three inns still remained – The Ram’s Head, The White Hart, and The Wheatsheaf.

Behind the Parish Church of St. John is Stoneygate, marked on the 1684 plan as Stoneygate Street which, to belie its present-day image, was in its heyday a desirable residential area. The name implies that it was a paved thoroughfare at a time when, apart from the main high streets, a stone-paved or cobbled street was a luxury. Nearby are Bostock Street and Bolton’s Court. Sir Thomas Bostocke was the Vicar of Preston circa 1540 and Thomas Bolton about 1452. In the vicinity of Stoneygate was Preston’s first Grammar School. In 1546 the priest and schoolmaster was Nicholas Banastre who, with a yearly income of £3 2s. 4d., had to “teach one fre Crammer Schole”. Adjoining the school was Dr. Shepherd’s Library, giving the name to Shepherd Street and nearby Library Street. The school and library were later moved to more imposing premises in Cross Street.

At its western end, Shepherd Street is joined by Syke Hill, taking its name from the Syke, a small stream that has its source somewhere near to St. Saviours Church on Manchester Road, the continuation of its source is marked by Syke Street. The name Syke originates from the Old English sic and means a stream or watercourse.

On the north side of the market square were the fish-stones and, leading off from here, was a lane that ran almost parallel with Friargate before taking a sharp turn to join it. This lane is shown on the 17th century plan with the name Back Wind, later known as Back Lane and now Market Street, bisected in the 1970’s by the Ringroad.

At the corner of Friargate with Cheapside was a short lane called Friars Weind, later called Anchor’s Weind after an inn of that name. It still exists as Anchor Court.

The Vicarage that adjoined the tithebarn was situated in Vicarage Alley and is now known as the Old Vicarage, naming a short street that connects Lancaster Road with Tithebarn Street. Another street that was mentioned at this time was Almshouse Lane, named after the town’s almshouses which occupied an island site in Fishergate. Almshouse Lane is now Mount Street. These almshouses fell into decay and were re-erected at the bottom end of Church Street at the junction of the road that was simply designated as “the road to Wiggan”, but is now Stanley Street.

Preston and its market became a very important commercial centre where Preston tradesmen were able to ply their wares, protected from outside competition by their respective Guilds. Here they were able to barter their goods with visiting farmers, chapmen, and merchants. All roads led to Preston, although, at this time, they were not all good ones. The road from Wigan gets a special mention by Lady Celia Fiennes who, in 1704, took four hours to travel 12 miles. This same road was not any improved some years later when it was reported that there were ruts some four feet deep. Oliver Cromwell didn’t actually come to Preston to do trade, but he is supposed to have described Ribbleton Lane as “a deep and ill lane”. Moor Lane is shown but not named on the 1684 map. It extended only as far as the Moor Brook where it was joined by Salters Lane (now North Road). Beyond to the north was just open moorland. The road from Lancaster followed a line from Broughton slightly to the west of the present A6 and entered the town by way of what is now Old Lancaster Lane and Fylde Road to Friargate. A more direct but rougher route crossed the Savick Brook at Cadley and then along a track which ran somewhere near to Brook Street. What is now Deepdale Road was, even as late as 1824, an unnamed bridle-path. In or about 1830, the Deepdale Valley was filled in and a continuous road from Mill Bank to the racecourse on the moor was completed. An old road that skirted the town from Fulwood to Fishwick was known in the 16th century as Dagger Gate and later as Daker Gate. Daker Gate is now Acregate Lane, possibly taking its name from the D’Acre family – Father D’Acre was Rector of Preston in 1297. The lane is now considerably shorter and extends only from Ribbleton Lane to New Hall Lane. The continuation beyond New Hall Lane was for some time designated Acregate Lane South, but after World War II was renamed Arnhem Road.

New Hall Lane itself has been ‘new’ for several centuries. The hall to which it refers was situated somewhere near the junction of New Hall Lane and Stanley Street. John Horrocks, who died in 1804 at the early age of 36, was instrumental in the planning of several new streets to be built at the lower end of New Hall Lane, the district to be known as New Preston. These streets consisted of terraced cottages to house the workers employed at his cotton mill in Church Street, built in 1791 and known as the Yard Mill. At the western end of the town in the 1820’s, new streets as well as new cotton and linen mills were springing up on both sides of what is now Marsh Lane, where there had been mainly fields and gardens. The district was to be called New England.

In 1716 or thereabouts, streets were being built to link up the residential area of Avenham with the town centre. Previous to this, the Broad Shambles had been erected by Thomas Molyneux who was described as a turkey merchant. Molyneux Square, which was adjacent, was formerly known as Aram’s Backside. The Narrow Shambles, previously mentioned, must have existed long before this time; another much later shambles, called the West End Shambles was erected in 1836 in Fishergate, opposite the end of Mount Street, by Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood. In 1837, a plan was outlined to cut through the Broad Shambles from Church Street across Chadwick’s Orchard and High Street to Gallows Hill and make a direct, straight road to be known as Moor Park Road. This name however, was not adopted and it became the present Lancaster Road.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, leprosy was rife in Northern Lancashire. The unfortunate victims were not allowed to live in the towns and villages but had to find shelter in the neighbouring forests. They were not only outcasts, but were also subjected to cruelty and abuse. Several hospitals for lepers had been founded in parts of the county, one of these being that of St. Mary Magdelene which was established sometime after 1150. The site is stated as being near a croft called Wyndhill and a plot of land near the Swagwellesyk. These lands came later to be known as the Maudlands, from the name of the hospital and its adjoining chapel, familiarly called Maud’s Spittal. Maudland Road and Maudland Bank retain the name. Land below the bank, the original Wyndhill, came to be known as Spittal Moss. Flowing through the Spittal Moss was the previously mentioned Swagewellesyk, literally translated as the stream with the boggy source. In the early 1830’s, most of the ancient Magdelene Lands belonged to James Pedder. He had laid out the streets for building on, the main one taking the name Pedder Street.

Moss Cottage was the residence of William Taylor who was connected with Horrocks, Miller & Co., at their Moss and Canal Factories. The name of his house and the Moss Factory are named from their position adjacent to Spittal Moss as are nearby Moss Street and Moss Rose Street. William Taylor was a pioneer in the conservation of heat in factory boilers, and he introduced the now common practice of lagging.

The Tomlinsons of Frenchwood were originally connected with the leather trade. Thomas was the owner of the Frenchwood Tannery in Pleasant Street around which he built new houses and workshops. Between 1809 and 1813, Pleasant Street became the first completely built up street in the Avenham side of town, it occupied. a field called Little Avenham. The Tomlinson family became owners and speculators of land in what was at that time the outskirts of the town. Greenbank, which had an area of about 34 acres, became the property of the Tomlinsons and was laid out in streets to a form a new residential area.

In 1821, the Fighting Cocks Inn at the bottom end of Friargate was demolished, creating a continuous straight road to be called Adelphi Street. This and adjoining land, extending to about 20 acres, had been previously purchased by the Tomlinsons. The valley of the Moor Brook was culverted and new streets created.

At this same time, development was proceeding in the Avenham district. Large houses were being built on Ribblesdale Place and Avenham Road. Bushell’s Place, Camden Place, and Avenham Colonnade came into being, and smaller houses for workers were being built in streets leading off both sides of Avenham Lane.

Between 1828 and 1841, the town had more than doubled in. size and population, the greatest rise being in the three years from 1828 to 1831 when the population increased from 24,575 to 44,380. New houses and streets continued to be built, among these were Mill Bank and Barton Terrace, North Road, Meadow Street, Park Road and Pole Street. Later came Walton’s Parade and Stanley Terrace at the western end of the town, and houses and mills in the Moor Park area. In 1837, a great build-up of houses and streets was initiated behind Mill Bank, running continuous with Edmund Street and a new road extending Newton Street to Deepdale Road. At that time, Deepdale Road was still not officially named and was just referred to as the road to Deepdale. Squares with houses were projected around the newly built St. Peter’s Church on Fylde Road and St. Paul’s church on Park Road. To the south of St. Paul’s church, the new buildings almost constituted a new town.

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