Preston Past: A Ramble Along Church Street (Part 3)
The above image is of a section of Church Street captured around the late 1920′s from the Bull & Royal Hotel to St. John’s Church otherwise known as the Parish Church. The building on the far right is that of The Discount Book Co. at no.140a on the ground floor, and at no.140b, the Conservative Club on the upper floors. Originally the ground floor was designed for two lock-up shops but eventually became just one. It was built between 1892 and 1893 and replaced an old barber’s shop which had been there for over 150 years and was believed to be the oldest barbers shop in England prior to it’s demolition. There was evidence, although somewhat tenuous, that in 1734 there was a barber known by the name of Mr. Wood who occupied the premises at that time.
There followed a succession of tenants to this premises, the final occupier being a Mr. Coward who took over from his father when he retired and between them they occupied this premises for 60 years or so. Between This building and the adjoining premises was a narrow passageway which was one of the approaches to the ‘Cock Pit’ where the nobility of Preston could be found assembled to watch the cock fights that were held there for many years.
The books found in the Discount Book shop were each marked on the one or more pages with the company stamp. I possess several publications originally sold from this shop and an image of how this stamp mark appeared is shown below (left).
The building in the centre of the upper image is the premises of The Eagle and Child Hotel Which was eventually demolished in 1936/7. This hotel, or beerhouse as it was once known, has stood in this location for many years, and there is evidence of that shown in an old Edwin Beattie painting where St. John’s Parish Church is depicted with the old tower before it was rebuilt.
The Eagle and Child bears its name to the strange legend of a gentleman known as Sir Thomas Latham, a nobleman from the 13th century and ancestor of the house of Stanley & Derby, desired to bring up his illegitimate son as an adopted member of the family. He created a tale that he found the boy by the foot of a tree in which an eagle was nesting. Although his wife was in agreement to the adoption the boy was later disinherited. At another time this place was also a beerhouse known as Lathom House, named after Sir Thomas Latham.
An image of the 1857 Beattie painting can be seen in the image immediately below.
Notice in this 1857 Beattie painting there is a small building between the public house and the Bull Inn (Later The Bull & Royal Hotel), this is where Mr. Coward’s barbers shop was at that time before it was swept away to build the Conservative Club.
Between the Eagle and Child and St. John’s Church there is a narrow alleyway which, up to the demolition of the Eagle and Child in 1936/7, was known as St. John’s Place which lead downhill to join Stoneygate. However, some time following the sweeping away of the public house and all the buildings behind it, including the ‘Cock Pit’, the alleyway was widened and was renamed to be a continuation of Stoneygate, as it is today.
An image of how St. John’s place appeared before the demolitions is shown to the adjacent left.
The view in this image is in close proximity to the summit of the original Stonygate and looking north towards Church Street.
Finally, the image below shows what the view of this part of Church Street in a recent photograph taken by the author in 2012. The former Conservative Club building has not really changed that much, but it is now the premises of The Academy public house. The wrote iron railings surrounding St. John’s Church no longer exist and two stone posts are now the feature either side of the Stonygate entrance.
In the next aticle: We continue with our ramble along the south side of Church Street.
This is a series showcasing photos from the brilliant Preston Digital Archive which is an online archive of images of Preston’s past.