Historical Articles

A collection of articles and personal research projects by society members

Preston and slavery

Aidan Turner-Bishop 2020

Another Preston compensation beneficiary was 27 year old Alexander Hamilton Cameron of 1 Market Place, Preston, where he lived with his wife Elizabeth, a servant, and an apprentice. For his 41 slaves on the Mango Valley Estate he was awarded £693 6s 9d (about £40,143 today).One record that intrigues is an award paid to the Rev R E Harris, ‘rector’ who received £19 10s 10d on 25 January, 1836, for one slave on the Trelawney Estate (Parliamentary Papers 1836, page 77). Can this be Preston’s celebrated Rector of St George’s, the Rev Robert Harris (1764-1862)? More research may be needed.


The Athertons enjoyed an agreeable lifestyle at Greenbank. The house was set back from Fylde Road: “a neat residence, surrounded with gardens and shrubberies…laid out in a tasteful manner.” Tunnicliff (1781) described it as “nearly enveloped amid the foliage of trees”. Greenbank was built before John Horrocks built his Spittal Moss factory nearby. You can get an idea of the Athertons’ wealth and style in their portrait by Arthur Devis (1712-1787) “Mr William Atherton and Mrs Atherton” which now hangs in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. William (1703-1745) was Richard’s son. With great skill the artist painted Mrs Atherton’s very fine and expensive-looking gown. Where did the money come from for the dress?






















Mr & Mrs Atherton (Arthur Devis, c 1743)

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

A nice gown: where did the money come from?


Close examination of the LBS database reveals the immense wealth of some Liverpool slave owners such as the Earles, Parkers, Tinnes, and the Gladstones. The Stanley family – the Earls of Derby, who owned Patten House in Preston, were rulers of the Isle of Man: the ‘Lords of Man’. The Isle of Man was deeply involved in the ‘Guinea Trade’ because it acted as a ‘free port’ for slave goods, avoiding Liverpool customs duties. When the 10th Earl of Derby, James II, died in 1736 the Lordship passed to James III, the 2nd Duke of Atholl. After his death in 1764 the British Government proclaimed the 1765 Revesting Act by which the Isle of Man became the property of the British Crown, thereby plugging a slave trade tax loophole. Manx sea captains were active in the trade. The last legal slaving ship from Liverpool in 1807 was Kitty’s Amelia captained by Hugh Crow, a Manxman. But what share of the slave trade profits went to the Earls of Derby?


Cargo lists for Manx ships show the wide variety of slave goods exported to Africa: red carnelian beads (semi-precious gemstone) from India, cotton ‘baft’ and chintz from India, fine linen from Silesia, cowrie shells from the Maldives (used as currency), knives made in England and dried ling fish. The slave trade was a truly international business.


Africans travelled from the West Indies and America to Britain. They came as servants – slaves, indeed – and workmen, maids, cooks and skilled tradesmen. Some fled from their masters who advertised for their return. Some ‘runaway’ advertisements are listed at www.runaways.gla.ac.uk/introduction













Some married, had children and died (remember poor Sambo in his grave at Sunderland Point); many are listed in church registers. For example, one interesting beneficiary of William Atheron’s will was Mary Southworth of Preston. She was a ‘mulatto’ (mixed race) woman who was granted an annuity of £20 (worth £855 today). She was related to Thomas Southworth of Green Park, Jamaica, from whom the Athertons inherited their estates. She may be one of the earliest records of a named Black Preston woman. What happened to her? One difficulty about identifying Black people in old documents is that they used English-sounding surnames. Their ethnicity may be obscured. Some of the church registers of Whitehaven, Cumbria, refer to ‘negro’, ‘mulatto’ or ‘negress’ in their records. What would an investigation of Lancashire records reveal?


The catalogue of Lancashire Archives does refer to records about the slave trade. A user’s guide to these records would be useful. William Atherton’s papers are deposited. Correspondence is held such as a letter from James Irving, a Liverpool mariner, to his wife Mary, dated 2 Dec 1786 (DDX 1126/1/6). He complains of his “very disagreeable cargo” of slaves. He was weary of “this accursed trade”. A revealing, and rather shocking, 12 page lease (DP 513/1) of a plantation in Antigua was made between Justinian Casamajor of Shenley, Hertford, and John Joseph James Vernon of Preston.


The Vernon name is significant. Robert Vernon Atherton Gwillym (c1741-1783) was MP from 1774 to 1780. He married Elizabeth Atherton and inherited Atherton Hall, Leigh. His daughter Henrietta married Thomas Powys, 2nd Baron Lilford in 1797. They were related to the Leghs of Lyme Hall, Cheshire. Incidentally, the Lilford family owned Bank Hall, Tarleton. A pair of lion statues from Atherton Hall, that stood by the front porch of Bank Hall, were moved to the Lilford Estate offices in Tarleton  In 1719 Henrietta Maria Legh donated land on which St Mary's Church, Tarleton, was built.


The Antigua estate lease in Lancashire Archives names some of the slaves sold to John Vernon. Included in the sale are “Negro Men – Carpenters, Coopers, Masons, Boilers, Carters and Field, Negro Women, Women superannuated (no value), Boys and girls fit and not fit for work and male and female infants “sucking”. The lease deals with the replacement of “distempered” slaves of “low value” who might die and could not be replaced promptly. What happened to

John Vernon’s slavery profits? Were they invested in the cotton industry?


Reinvestment in cotton manufacturing was very likely. Eric Williams’s Capitalism and slavery (Andre Deutsch, 1964) makes the telling point that the immense profits from slavery helped to finance banks, industries (such as cotton manufacturing), large estates and what he called the “New Industrial Order”: railways, collieries, factories. Abolition - keenly advocated by some in Lancashire – redirected the wealth but the money had already been made and reinvested. Besides, Lancashire relied on slave-produced cotton from the American Southern States. Colin Dickinson noted that in 1860 over three quarters of Lancashire cotton arrived from the southern slave states. This came to an abrupt hiatus with the American Civil War and the Lancashire ‘Cotton famine’. During the 1860-65 “panic” about half the population of Preston might have been technically paupers such was the disruption of trade. David Hunt points out that the “Famine” was a commercial crisis arising from excessive overproduction in the 1860s boom. This partly prompted speculation about shortages of cotton from the Confederate States. The American Civil War was closely followed in Preston, including news about the Preston-built Confederate naval blockade runner Night Hawk, launched on the Ribble in 1863. Monuments of the Cotton Famine remain today as Avenham and Miller Parks laid out as work creation schemes. It may be no exaggeration to suggest that much of Preston’s cotton industry wealth, at least until the 1860s, depended on slave-produced raw material.


It’s a huge topic worthy of detailed and thorough research; this is just a lockdown glimpse. Many families benefited from the slave trade and compensation awards paid to slave owners. If your family history mentions a “Liverpool merchant”, “Manx captain”, or relatives in the West Indies look closely. Consider Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights in which Mr Earnshaw visits Liverpool ‘on business’ and returns to Yorkshire with the young Heathcliff: a “dark skinned gypsy”, “a little lascar”. There are clues in many unexpected places for rich and often disturbing research topics.



Notes on terminology and sources


Words such as ‘mulatto’, ‘negress’ and ‘negro’ are unacceptable today. However historians have to use them when researching contemporary documents of the period. British pre-decimal currency was based on pounds (£), shillings (s) and pence (d). There were 20 shillings in a pound; 12 pence in a shilling. 17s 6d = 87.5p.


There is a large and expanding bibliography of books, articles, theses, and web resources about the Transatlantic slave trade. A web search will reveal many sources. Brief and useful bibliographies are in Evans (2010) and Sadler (2009). Elder (1992) and Hall (2014) have excellent longer bibliographies. Some sources consulted for this essay include:


Abram W A (1882) Memorials of the Preston Guild (Toulmin)

Atherton Hall https://engole.info/atherton-hall

Belchem, J ed (2006) Liverpool 800 (Liverpool U.P.)

Dickinson, C (2002) Cotton mills of Preston (Carnegie)

Donington, K (2014) The legacies of British slave-ownership (History Workshop)


Elder, M (1992) The slave trade and the economic development of 18th century Lancaster (Ryburn)

Evans, C (2010) Slave Wales (University of Wales Press). Lucid and informative.

Fowler,C (2020) [National Trust: slavery and colonialism report]


Hall, C and others (2014) Legacies of British slave-ownership (Cambridge U P). Bibliography.

Hunt, D (2009) A history of Preston (Carnegie, 2nd ed)

Legacies of British slave-ownership www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs

Manx National Heritage (2007) The Isle of Man and the Transatlantic slave trade. Select bibliography No 14. Available as an online .pdf document.

Mosley, M W (2015) Green Park Sugar Estate: the history


Moxon, F S (c1930) A brief history of Pedder & Co, Preston Old Bank, 1776-1861

Osborne, A & Martin, S I (2003?) The slave trade and abolition: sites of memory    (English Heritage)

Richardson, D, Schwartz, S & Tibbles, A eds (2007) Liverpool and transatlantic slavery

(Liverpool U P). Melinda Elder’s chapter on The Liverpool slave trade, Lancaster and its environs (pp. 118-137) is especially useful.

Runaway slaves in Britain www.runaways.gla.ac.uk

Sadler, N (2009) The slave trade (Shire). Concise and well-illustrated.


Taylor, M (2020) The Interest: how the British establishment resisted the abolition of slavery   (Bodley Head)


Tunnicliff, W (1781) A topographical survey of the counties of Chester and Lancaster    (Nantwich)

Williams, E (1964) Capitalism and slavery (Deutsch)

This essay has not dealt with the Abolition movement in Lancashire or with British military and naval sources used to control plantation and slave revolts in the West Indies: more areas of possible local history research. ATB 2020

What was Preston’s involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade? We know that the Lancashire cotton industry flourished greatly on American slave-grown cotton, at least until the abolition of slavery in the USA in 1863 and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865. But who owned slaves and invested in plantations? How were local businesses involved? Who profited and what happened to their wealth? What happened to Black people who travelled to north west England? What traces remain?


It’s not easy trying to unravel Preston’s slave trade links in lockdown but plenty has been written if you look carefully. Melinda Elder’s The slave trade and the economic development of 18th century Lancaster (Ryburn, 1992) is useful. There’s also the invaluable online database of compensation paid to slave owners Legacies of British slave-ownership: www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs Lancashire Archives catalogue suggest useful leads. David Hunt’s A history of Preston (Carnegie, 2009, 2nd ed) has some details of Preston’s slave trade.


Firstly, some dates: 1440 the Portuguese begin trading African slaves; 1655 England invaded Jamaica and established slave-based plantations there from the 1670s. The Royal African Company was founded in 1663. Edward Colston (1636-1721) of Bristol – the toppled statue man – was a director. Another leading investor was King James II whose slaves were branded ‘KJ’ (King James). Slavery was abolished in the French colonies in 1793 but restored by Napoleon in 1802. 1807 saw the abolition of the British slave trade; slavery was abolished in the British West Indies in 1834. The Act for the Suppression of the Slave Trade was passed in 1843. The American Civil War (1861-65) led partly to the Lancashire ‘Cotton Famine’ caused by the blockade of Confederate States-suppled cotton. Slavery ended in Brazil in 1888. Many ‘freed’ slaves remained as indentured ‘apprentices’ with little real change in their condition.


In north west England Lancaster (over 29.000 slaves) and Whitehaven (over 14,000) were leading slave ports. The principal centre of the British slave trade was Liverpool: its ships transported over 1,171,171 slaves to America during a trade sometimes euphemistically called the “Guinea” or “Barbados” trade. Liverpool merchants made enormous fortunes, some of which were invested in grand houses such as Speke Hall. For example, Robert Welch, a “Liverpool merchant”, bought High House, Leck, which was converted into Leck Hall, now the seat of the Shuttleworth family.


How did this happen? The business was a ‘trade’, remember. In exchange for slaves, captured and assembled by African chiefs and traders – some Africans became wealthy too – English merchants traded ‘Africa’ (gun) powder, ‘manillas’ (copper bracelet tokens), glass beads, cowrie shells, textiles, cutlasses, iron ingots (some imported from Gammelbo, Sweden), metal goods, and even the skull caps, knitted in Dentdale, Yorkshire, worn by Muslim men. Gingham cloth, woven in Carlisle, and ‘osnaburghs’, slaves’ heavy linen clothing, hand-woven in Leyland and Walton, were also exported. Much ‘Africa’ gun powder was manufactured at Low Wood, Haverthwaite. The work’s records are in Lancashire Archives (DDLO).


Copper was especially important since it was used to make the sugar cane boiling pans and, later, to line the keels of ships to protect them from tropical marine boring worms. Shipbuilding, and its ancillary trades, flourished in Liverpool. Warehouses were needed to store slave goods. Parr’s Warehouse, 26 Colquitt Street, Liverpool, survives today as student accommodation. By its size and solidity you can understand the wealth and importance of the business.

Kirkham merchants built warehouses for the ‘Barbados’ trade at Skippool (1741) and Naze Point, on the Ribble, (1761). In 1754 the Clifton carried local cheeses, shoes, and other goods to Barbados. The Preston sailed to Jamaica. Lloyd’s List in 1755 recorded the voyages of three local ships: the Hothersall (of Poulton) landing 150 slaves in Barbados, the Betty & Martha (Poulton) 65 slaves, and the Blossom (Preston) 131 people. When the Blossom returned to Lytham in 1756 her captain Samuel Gawith offered her sale: “a very strong and tight vessel of proper dimensions and every way compleat for the Slave Trade.” Gawith (or Touchet) continued to trade, making eight further voyages from Liverpool.


Profits from the slave trade were often re-invested as capital in the cotton industry, manufacturing, railways, collieries, land, and country properties, in Britain and across the Empire. An example of this were the Kirkham flax merchants, such as John Birley, who invested with Lancaster slavers in the slave trade at Preston and Poulton. They exported sailcloth and twine needed for the slaving vessels. Merchants like Birley switched to exporting through Liverpool after slave ships ceased sailing from the Ribble and Wyre. Birley later went into partnership with John Swainson to erect in 1828 a huge cotton mill in Fishwick known as ‘The Big Factory’. Fishwick Mill prospered and grew. Birley is recalled today in Birley Street in the city centre.



















Fishwick Mill


Who were the local families who organised, financed and profited from the slave trade? The LBS database reveals those who claimed compensation for emancipated slaves. Today we may have an image that slave trading and plantation management was the preserve of brutish men. Certainly, some slave owners were notorious for their sadistic cruelty, sexual abuse, and perverted violence to their slaves. However, for many ‘respectable’ people investment and shares in plantations was good -and legal- business. Ladies, widows, clergymen (such as Rev. William Vernon, Curate of Grindleton), the gentry, aristocracy, tradesmen, and merchants owned shares in slaves. Katie Donington notes that “up until the later stages of the abolition campaign slave-ownership presented no bar to respectability, it was instead a common and unremarked facet of British life” (History Workshop, 2014). You could take out mortgages and loans for slaves. They could be left as legacies in your will. Liverpool’s slaving success may be partly due to the efficiency of its credit arrangements, facilitated by bankers and lawyers who indirectly profited from the trade. Building, equipping, and stocking slave vessels needed finance. Local families saw an opportunity for profitable investment.


Probably the Preston family most deeply involved were the Athertons of Greenbank. Their estate, including the house was sold in 1850 for development (Preston Chronicle, 5 Oct, 1850). It was the land north of Fylde Road. ‘Greenbank’ mansion stood near the site of the UCLan car park in Greenbank Street, formerly Goss’s printing machinery works. Richard Atherton (1738-1804), a ‘draper and woollen merchant’, inherited the Green Park Estate in Jamaica. He was Guild Mayor in 1782, celebrated in doggerel by Mr Wilson: “Joy sparkled and smiled in the face of the Mayor / As he marched through the streets with a right worshipful air”. He is said to have donated some silverware to Preston Corporation’s civic plate collection. He was one of the partners of the Old Bank founded in 1776. This was originally called Atherton, Greaves, and Denison. It stood on the site of the former Trustee Savings Bank, Church Street. He was buried, age 66, on 2 September 1804, in the Minster churchyard. He left the income from his Jamaican estates to his wife Mary. On her death his estates went to his son William, with some payments to his children Lucy, Mary, Edward, Elizabeth and Catherine. Lucy married Sir James Allan Park, a lawyer and judge.


Green Park Sugar Estate was expanded in the 1770s by William Atherton (died 1803) Richard’s brother. He built the plantation house between 1768 and 1769. He added the adjoining Bradshaw Estate in 1771, increasing the estate’s size to 1,315 acres (532 ha). He imported hundreds of African slaves who worked in the cane fields and sugar factories of what was the third largest estate in Trelawney Parish. As a result William became one of the wealthiest planters in Jamaica with an immense fortune which enabled him to buy Prescot Hall, Lancashire, to where he retired. In 1810 the estate had 550 slaves and 302 head of cattle. The Athertons continued to own the estate until 1910 when they sold it to Walter Woolliscroft, the estate manager. The 1929 Crash forced Mr Woolliscroft into bankruptcy as the price of sugar plummeted. Eventually the estate and sugar works closed in 1957; they are now ruins.





















Slaves in a sugar plantation, Jamaica.


The wealth did not vanish. It passed among the Atherton family. Dame Lucy, the wife of Judge Sir James Park (1763-1838) was wealthy. At one time the Parks owned a Dutch Old Master painting A cottage in the woods by Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709). It is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. Some of the money, including Slave Commission compensation, descended to Eleanora Atherton (1782-1870) who lived in Kersal Cell, near Salford, and 23 Quay Street, Manchester. When Eleanora died in 1870 she left ‘under £400,000’ which, in today’s values, is worth over £25 million. She was known in Manchester for her charitable donations to Chetham’s School, Holy Trinity church, Hulme, and the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. For the record she received £3,466 8s 8d for Spring Vale Estate slaves and a whopping £10,172 17s 9d for Green Park slaves. Thus was wealth from slavery laundered and made respectable.



























Miss Atherton in old age.

‘Ancient Charley': Artist and Oddfellow

Julie Foster

Hardwick developed his interest in the Oddfellows movement travelling the country delivering lectures, writing articles and pamphlets, editing the Oddfellows Magazine, the short lived journal Country Words, becoming a Grand Master, and writing on subjects such as folklore and archaeology. There are reports of him delivering lectures 'in his usual argumentative, lucid and eloquent manner' in an hour and a half. He gave his lecture on the History of Friendly Societies at the Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge, Preston in 1851. He declaimed the Oddfellows poem written 'especially for his public recitation' by his friend and writer Eliza Cook (the handwritten original is in the scrapbook) at the Procession of Friendly Societies at the Preston Guild celebrations. The 'oldest Oddfellow' George Ward was celebrated and given a portrait painted by Hardwick at a Preston Lodge gathering.


Hardwick's art reviews are lengthy, discussing the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition of 1857 'pictures too numerous for the available space' plus the Royal Manchester Institution, Manchester Academy of Fine Art and Royal Academy Summer exhibitions. There are also cuttings of his correspondence. In one letter he recalls being taught drawing 'fifty years ago' in Preston by the 'much respected' artist Robert Carlyle (1801-1874) whose father Robert Snr. produced many watercolours of Carlisle, held at Carlisle Library. Carlyle Jnr. lived for a time at Springbank, off Fishergate Hill. Hardwick also remembered Robert's brother, Richard, an artist of 'miniatures painted on a marble ground'.  An advertisement in the Chronicle of Sept 1839 announces Richard Carlyle's visit to Preston in the coming days, and 'invites attention to his specimens on ivory and marble, exhibiting at Mr Carr's Repository, Fishergate and Mr Clarke's Booksellers, Church Street'.





































There are favourable reviews of a young Manx artist Joseph Swynnerton 'a talented young sculptor' who would later sculpt a plaster bust of Hardwick for the Manchester Literary Club. It was described in the Manchester Evening News: 'we see the earnestness and keen insight of the face which Time, by manifold buffetings, has vainly striven to deprive of its kindly aspect.' A plaster bust, possibly by Swynnerton, was presented to the new Harris Museum by the Society of Oddfellows. It is currently in store owing to its fragile condition. Hardwick himself had transferred a 'very beautiful statuette in Parian marble' (unglazed porcelain) of a Dancing Girl Reposing after William Calder Marshall to the Preston Institution 'in the hope that other presents of a similar nature would encourage a gallery to be formed in the town'. This had been presented to him by the London Art Union, established in 1836, an organisation which distributed works of art amongst its subscribers by lottery. Hardwick was an Honorary Local Secretary.

Hardwick appears in the Censuses of 1871, 1881 at addresses in Hulme, as 'Editor of Oddfellows Magazine', his daughter Catherine's occupation 'Housekeeper'. An exhibition of 50 portraits by the artist William Percy at the Manchester Literary Club lists Hardwick as one of the subjects on display.
















Hardwick's declining health was reported in the press. He died in 1889, at Talbot Street, Hulme, leaving in his will £1,000. In September 1890, the auctioneers Capes Dunn and Pilcher held a two day sale of books 'from the library of Mr Charles Hardwick'. An article in the Preston Herald of 1896 reports a presentation of 'a very handsome marble bust..one of four taken of the late Mr Charles Hardwick' to the Oddfellows Loyal Travellers Rest Lodge, of the Preston district, who met at the British Workmen's Cafe, Pole Street.

Catherine Hardwick appears on the 1891 census, age 53, having removed to Southport and later Birkdale, described as 'living on her own means'.  An inquest into her death in May 1895 reported in the Liverpool Echo concluded the cause of death was 'excessive drinking'. She is described as 'a lady of independent means and well-connected, but had given way to intemperate habits'. She is buried alongside her father at Brooklands cemetery in Sale.

She left effects to the amount of £2,850 in her will, (the equivalent today of £200,000) to a Rev John James Thornley, possibly her cousin. Charles's sister Elizabeth married John Thornley, a 'Tea -Dealer' in 1838, the brother of Jeremiah. In the 1891 Census the Rev. John James Thornley son of John, age 48, b. Preston, is living in Workington, Cumberland, as the Vicar of St John's  Church, with his wife Margaret, and son John Hardwick Thornley age 13. In the 1901 Census the Rev John James Thornley is Vicar of St Oswalds, Kirkoswald, near Penrith. In the 1911 Census the Reverend's son John Hardwick Thornley age 33 is a Medical Practitioner in Scarborough. His eldest son was Colin Hardwick Thornley (1907-1983) who later became Sir Colin Hardwick Thornley, a colonial administrator and the Governor of British Honduras [now Belize], 1956-1961.


A letter from Catherine Hardwick's solicitor to Preston Borough Council reported in the Herald details a 'duty free bequest of picture relievos (bas relief) medallions and a cast, connected with or referring to Thomas Hood's grave , a portrait of Sir John Hay, and her oil painting representing the subject of The Destruction of the  Scarlet Woman'. The Council asked the advice of the Harris Museum Curator and Art Director, Mr W B Barton, formally an art instructor at the Harris Institute, who gave his opinion they were 'not worthy of being placed in the Free Library and Museum' and the offer was declined.



Lancashire Libraries, Lancashire Record Office, South Ribble Museum, Manchester Central Library Archives+, Harris Museum


Oddfellows arms

Charles Hardwick (1817-1889) the Preston born 'antiquarian, historian, archaeologist, artist, art-critic, odd-fellow and good-fellow both', the author of A History of Preston and its Environs (1857), had early artistic ambitions.






















Image courtesy of the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library


The son of a ' respectable publican' (William Hardwick, landlord of the Grey Horse, Fishergate) Hardwick was first apprenticed at 14 to the Preston Chronicle newspaper. He was awarded first prize for a drawing in chalk from the lesser, and perfectly nude 'Towneley Venus' (British Museum) by the fledgling Preston Society of Arts and he was 'seized by an ambition to become an artist'. The Society elected Hardwick as a member in 1834. It held exhibitions in ' two large rooms attached to the Court House' in Preston. Hardwick had attended a 'private drawing class' in Preston, alongside his colleague from the Chronicle Jeremiah Thornley (d.1904), who recalled that Hardwick possessed 'skill enough to have ranked at the top of his profession had he so willed it'. Hardwick 'painted several  noted works in oil'  including a painting of Hamlet and the Ghost later purchased by Thornley, and Macbeth and his guilty wife but he conceded that the 'technique was somewhat crude and immature'  mentioning two oil studies King Lear and Macbeth suffering the paint 'peeling off' after being stored in poor conditions. Hardwick was said by Thornley to be something of a Hamlet obsessive, spending his days brooding over Shakespeare, 'haunted and in touch with the metaphysical melancholy character of Hamlet'. His wife Elizabeth, a dressmaker, was 'prevailed upon to make him a doublet and cloak' for the Fancy Dress Ball held during the Preston Guild in 1842. He took part in a performance of Shakespeare speeches at the Theatre Royal Preston in 1847 (in aid of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust at Stratford) attended by the Mayor Thomas Birchall.

Thornley also mentions a life size portrait of himself painted by Hardwick. Thornley later removed to The Bushell Hospital in Goosnargh. An advertised sale of the contents of his home in Avenham Street (where Hardwick also lived for a time) lists the Hamlet and the Ghost painting, but where is his large portrait? It was still in Thornley's possession at the time of his article.

Heading to London c.1839, age 22, after his father's death, Hardwick  kept a diary of his visit, passing notes of his journal to his 'friend and fellow student' Thomas Casson,  who would share them with members of the 'dissolved art class' back in Preston. Postage was expensive then: 'a letter to Preston cost eleven pence'. Excerpts were later published in the Papers of the Manchester Literary Club, (of which Hardwick was a founder member, with Benjamin Brierley, Ben Waugh and others, upon moving to Manchester in 1858) and the Manchester Quarterly as Leaves From A London Journal, 1839 (1888) reviewed by the Lancashire Evening Post  as 'written in a chatty style'. Hardwick visits,  with a letter of introduction from a mutual acquaintance the former Preston MP John Wood,) the 'Painter-to-the-Queen' George Hayter, who, upon hearing that he hailed from Preston, professed ignorance of the town but after mention of Henry  'Orator' Hunt and his defeat of the Hon. E.G.Stanley, a friend, he replied, “Yes, yes, I remember it well. The blacking manufacturer was preferred by the Preston electors to the son and heir of Lord Derby!”











Hayter encouraged the young artist and recommended he attend the recently established School of Design, in Cavendish Square. The proprietors were Angel De Villa Lobos, a Drawing Master from the Madrid Academy of Fine Arts, and Scottish sculptor (and friend of Charles Dickens) Angus Fletcher. Hayter advised Hardwick on gaining admission to the Dulwich Gallery and Hampton Court. Hardwick recounts taking a coach to the latter to swoon before the 'Raffaelles' and describes an encounter with the Duke of Wellington at the House of Lords. The journal recalls a trip to Italy and the difficulties of studying the ' neck- breaker' ceilings of Michael Angelo in the Vatican Sistine Chapel, Hardwick described how he  'threw myself on my back' as recommended by the artist Henry Fuseli ‘that irritating little Keeper of the British Royal Academy in London'.


On his return from London Hardwick married Elizabeth Addison, daughter of Thomas Addison, Land Surveyor, of Leyland, at St John's Church Preston. A daughter, Catherine was born in 1841.The census  of that year lists the family (living with, or visiting, Thomas Addison) at the top end of Worden Lane and Towngate, Leyland, then known as Main Street. Hardwick's profession is listed as Portrait Painter; the Preston Chronicle carried advertisements stating as such.

Elizabeth died in 1842 and is buried in St Andrew’s Church Leyland, which has no Hardwick grave listed. There is an Addison family grave with a later added stone, sadly now illegible, noted as such in the churchyard plan compiled in 1920s.

Hardwick visited London again in 1846, sharing the studio of his friend the Nottinghamshire artist Frederick Charles Cooper, who would later accompany Sir Henry Layard on his excavations of Nineveh.

Hardwick moved with his young daughter to Manchester, in 1858, eschewing art for journalism, having published his History of Preston, writing for such newspapers as the Manchester Examiner and Times and the Salford Weekly News, reviewing art exhibitions in the city and beyond. The articles are preserved in two large scrapbooks entitled Charles Hardwick 's contributions to the Press 1866-84 presented to Manchester Central Library by Catherine Hardwick, who perhaps diligently compiled them, carefully clipping out the cuttings. She is described in the Manchester Guardian obituary as 'his constant companion and helper'.

Before he left Preston, Hardwick was presented with a complete set of the Penny Cyclopaedia, housed in a 'handsome mahogany carved bookcase, bearing an engraved silver plate' by members of the Preston Oddfellows, at the Hoop and Crown Inn. In the 1861 Census, he is living at City Road Hulme, age 43, his profession 'Author and Portrait Painter'. Catherine (21) is a visitor at her maternal Grandfather Thomas Addison's (age 78) house in Brindle. Other occupants include her Aunt Jane Addison (41) a 'Professor of Music'.



Some Winckley Square women

By Agnes Stone-Roberts

Winckley Square may be seen as the symbol of the expanding upper middle class in Preston. Two hundred years ago the area in and around the Square housed some of Preston’s leading families but, however picturesque the gardens were, the people in it were no more progressive than in any other area in England with their treatment of women. The education of women was very different from men’s: for starters, many women did not get much schooling.

Portrait of Caroline Norton by Frank Stone.

The formal education of the ‘polite lady’ was generally little more than music, literature, dancing, drawing and needlework. As the early Lancashire historian Peter Whittle said, they regarded ‘. . . all public and private schools as nurseries for men for the service of the church or state, and those for the softer sex as nurseries for piety and virtue.’ So not only did the women’s fathers (who in effect owned them) not give them an education that would enable them to survive on their own, when they got married, the bride and all her possessions were regarded as property of their husband. If a woman was unhappy in her marriage the only pathways tended to be: put up with it, or prepare to die a social death.

‘I have learned the law respecting women, piece-meal, by suffering every one of its defects of protection’ – this is what Mrs Caroline Norton, a novelist, poet and mother of three from London wrote to Queen Victoria after her husband treated her cruelly, publicly tried her for adultery, unjustly ruined her reputation, took her father’s legacy, and deprived her of access to her three children; and despite

Engraving of Caroline Norton.


all of this she was not allowed to obtain a divorce. Caroline used her skills and connections to fight back and her passionate campaigning contributed to the passing of the Custody of Infants Act of 1839, the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, and the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870. These laws, however, were too late or insufficient for many local women whose footsteps through Winckley Square I walk almost every day.

Henrietta ‘Minnie’ Miller (1852–1926) of 5 Winckley Square was the eldest daughter of Thomas Miller the major share­holder of Horrocks’s. Aged 20, she married Sutherland Dumbreck. Everything she previously owned, includ­ing the £30,000 (about £3.5m today) she inherited after her father’s death in 1865, belonged to him. They had three children together but from the outset she was physically, verbally and emotionally abused, threatened and cheated on by her husband. The marriage lasted nine years until, though un-usual, highly expensive and regarded as social suicide, she filed for a divorce, embracing the

Henrietta Miller


  Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, advocated for by Caroline Norton. Though this act was a start, it was by no means easy for women as they needed to prove adultery as well as another offence such as incest, cruelty, bigamy or desertion (a man, on the other hand, only needed to prove adultery to petition divorce). She listed adultery and cruelty – an action that took courage, family support and a respected and wealthy position in that period. Her divorce was heard and the final decree was granted on 12 November 1883. She married again two years later and lived happily in Sussex, but her marriage settlement from her first marriage was still active. Dumbreck, who remarried in 1896, was still reaping the benefits of her fortune. Although she petitioned the High Court for a change, she was un-successful and Minnie would continue to pay the costs out of her own settlement to the man who treated her brutally for just under a decade of her life.

Jacintha Hesketh (Major Thomas Hesketh’s widow and mother of six) married Thomas Winckley in 1785. They had one daughter, Frances, born 1787. After they had married everything Jacintha possessed became the property of Thomas Winckley. The Winckley family name ended with Thomas Winckley, who died in 1794. When he died he left his wife only one house and the rest of his vast estate went to Frances. He also left over £2000 inheritance to his two illegitimate sons whom he had fathered before his marriage to Jacintha. Jacintha’s five daughters, according to Frances Winckley’s diary, were greatly disliked by him and lived separately from Frances. Her diary records that her mother’s home ‘was not a happy one’. Jacintha’s daughters, whom we would see as the rightful inheritors of the Hesketh/Winckley estate, were left with nothing when Winckley died. When Frances married John Shelley in 1807 (63 years before the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act 1870) any money made by a woman either through a wage, from in-vestment, by gift, or through inheritance automatically became the property of her husband. On Frances’s marriage all of the Winckley estate became the property of the Shelley family. One property was sold to pay his gambling debts! The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 was too late for Jacintha Winckley and her daughters.

Jacintha Hesketh.

Other women were forced to adapt – take Elizabeth Swain for example. After her first husband died in June 1812, she went into trade with another woman Margaret Higham, as straw hat manufacturers; they were very successful and highly regarded. Almost twenty years later, immediately after her second marriage to John Swain in 1831, Elizabeth retired and moved into 29 Winckley Square. For most of their marriage John Swain did not live with his wife. When he died in the early 1850s he left her only £5 in his will and actually left several houses in Preston to his mistress. During this time Elizabeth was acquiring her own private income, though modest, from renting out her old bonnet shop and the house next door to her on Winckley Square. This meant by the time of her death she was able to live self-sufficiently. Elizabeth went to a great deal of trouble to make sure that her female relatives were not only left with a fair share of her estate in her will, but also, it was theirs and theirs alone. She did not want their share of her estate to be affected by the law that stated that when a woman was married her property then belonged to her husband – a law criticised and lobbied against by Caroline Norton.

Young women like me, who in the past were the main victims of these discriminatory laws, should be thankful that the laws have changed and for the bold women who helped it happen. We have a lot more freedom from the leash that marriage and divorce laws created for women just over a century ago.

John Whitehead's Penwortham Pictures

By Julie Foster

On 1st November 1898 at 12 o'clock prompt, there was a sale at Messrs Capes, Dunn and Pilcher in Manchester "Of The Highly-Important and Valuable collection of Oil Paintings & Water-Colour Drawings formed by John Whitehead esq. Deceased, formerly of Elton, Bury and late of Buxton "

The owner of this collection, John Whitehead J.P., (1815-1898) had lately resided at Penwortham Priory (demolished c.1920s) outside Preston, original seat of the Rawstorne family. (Whitehead also lived at Broughton Park, Rufford Hall and later retired to Buxton.) At Penwortham Priory these pictures hung, all detailed in the neatly handwritten 'List of Pictures at Penwortham Priory Sept 1890' recently sent to Dr David Hunt, Curator of the South Ribble Museum in Leyland.

Notable in the list of oil, watercolour and engraved works are two large oil paintings "Listed for the Connaught Rangers" * which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879,  (1878, Bury Museum and Art Gallery, Whitehead gift 1901) and "Balaclava" (1875-6, Manchester Art Gallery, Robert Whitehead  gift in memory of John Whitehead, 1898) by the renowned military artist Elizabeth Southernden Thompson, Lady Butler (1846-1933)

Her mother, who had been a concert-pianist, was unhappy that her elder daughter should wish to paint

‘nothing but soldiers and battles’. Lady Butler (Mimi) began painting wartime scenes after visiting Paris and viewing the work of the military painter Edouard Detaille, and witnessing military manoeuvres at Southampton. To achieve historical accuracy in her paintings she acquired soldiers’ equipment and uniforms, read first hand accounts of war, and interviewed veterans.

John Whitehead is mentioned often in Lady Butler's memoirs of 1922 as having commissioned the paintings 'Balaclava' and 'Listed for the Connaught Rangers'. He had already bought the 'Halt!' pen drawing ahead of the famous French picture dealer Gambart, who was keen to own it. Lady Butler notes that Whitehead also sold the copyright of the Connaught picture to the Fine Art Society for £3,000, who 'engaged the great Stacpoole to do the engraving'. At Penwortham Priory the list included engravings hung in the Entrance Hall: 'The Roll Call' by Lady Butler (bought by Queen Victoria) two Landseers and a pair by Millais. 'The Roll Call' was exhibited at the Royal Academy 1874 Summer Exhibition and led to the artist's nomination for election as an Academician. In 1879 she lost by two votes.


Illustration on a postcard of Penwortham Priory

The two Butler pictures were lent to Blackburn by 'John Whitehead, Magistrate, of Penwortham Priory' for an art exhibition, held at the Corporation's Free Museum and Library, in 1894. Other works, including sculpture, all lent by local collectors, numbered over fifty in one gallery alone  " ..the greater number of exhibits in this gallery are from the easels of Academicians" by artists such as Sir Frederick Leighton, Landseer, Long, Frith, Herkomer, Watts and David Roberts (lent by Mrs Thwaites, who "..came forward with many of the word-renowned pictures in her possession.."

(Blackburn Weekly Standard and Express, Sept 1,1894)

The two Butler pictures are currently touring America until autumn 2018, as part of the 'Women Artists in Paris' exhibition:




Other valuable oil paintings in Whitehead's collection included Keeley Hallswelle's 'Jack Cade's Rabblement'- a character from Shakespeare's Henry VI pt 2.

The artist (1832-1891) had a picture included in Henry Tate’s gift of art to the nation and was a favourite of the shipping-line owner George Holt (of Sudley House near Liverpool) who owned four paintings. Jack Cades Rabblement was also later gifted to Bury Art Gallery by Henry Whitehead.

The list includes a large painting by the 'king of the fairy painters' John Austen (Anster) 'Fairy' Fitzgerald (1819-1906). 'Detected' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1875. Thomas Faed's 'Jeannie Deans' interview with the Duke of Argyll' a scene from a Walter Scott novel, apparently sold in 2015 in the United States for 755 dollars. Jules Emile Santin's 'The Convalescent' ** was later given to Bury Art Gallery by Robert Whitehead. The noted portraitist (NPG) Rudolf Lehmann is represented by 'Roman Beggars' (400 guineas).

Other oil paintings on the list are by Crome, Escosura, Frere, Louis Haghe, Leader, Morland, Nasmyth, Erskine Nicol, Piot, Roberts, T. Sidney 'Cow' Cooper, van Schendel, Sadee, Tenkate, plus watercolours and drawings by Fisher, Henry Gastineu (150 guineas), Sir John Gilbert, the Fylde artist Ansdell, Josep Tapiro the Tangiers based artist (valued at 400 guineas) and W.Hunt.



John Whitehead was born in Elton near Bury, the son of John (d.1876) who lived at Haslem Hey (demolished) near Bury, where it was said his family had resided for nearly 200 years. He had an Uncle James who was a brewer in Bolton. The elder John Whitehead founded and managed the bleaching firm of John Whitehead. A branch of the Whitehead family was a partner in the Horrockses of Preston firm in its' early days, having married into the Horrocks family. There were Whiteheads in residence at Winckley Square in the early 1800s (mentioned in Amanda Vickery’s book.) The Whiteheads also had family connections with Ainsworth Hall in Bury. John Whitehead’s maternal grandmother Lucy Kay (d.1856) has a memorial window in Elton Church. John continued the family bleaching and dyeing works, which boasted an office in central Manchester. During the Penwortham years he is  mentioned in the 'Preston Chronicle' reports of the 1880s as an attendee at the Infirmary Ball and the Mayors Ball in Preston; hosting a garden party at the Priory; in 1887 recorded in the Manchester Winter Assizes procession. A diary extract from Blanche Bretherton, daughter of William Bretherton J.P. of Runshaw Hall, Euxton, aged 24, give us a glimpse into Victorian social life..

 Friday April 30th, 1886:


 "Have just got back from the dance at Penwortham Priory. Mother, Father and I went. It was beastly. I only danced one dance. We were not introduced to a soul. It was horrible! "


Whitehead also had mining interests, at Darcy Lever near Bolton, could this have funded the art collecting?

There is a possible further family connection with Thomas Whitehead, solicitor (1853-1937) of Brindle Lodge, who has a commemorative window at St Mary’s Church Brindle, and perhaps connections with Chapel St and Winckley Square of the firm of solicitors Whitehead, Marsden and Huck?

Incidentally, Bury Art Gallery also has a picture 'The Novice' by Alfred Elmore, originally from the collection of William Bashall, another local mill owner and art collector, of Farington Lodge, Leyland.

At Penwortham Church there is a memorial tablet to John Horrocks of Penwortham Lodge, d.1804, unveiled by Walter H Whitehead, b.1840. He was one of John Whitehead's ten children, and became a well known Manchester surgeon, after deciding the family business wasn't for him.


Whiteheads in Bury


The prominent clock tower in the memorial garden near Bury Town Hall in Lancashire was erected at the suggestion of Henry Whitehead as a memorial to his brother, Walter. Henry served as High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1903, became a Deputy Lieutenant for Lancashire, and Justice of the Peace, as well as managing director of the Bleachers' Association. He was later knighted.

Whitehead Park, Elton was established in 1883 with contributions from Lord Derby, the Lord of the Manor, a public subscription and generous contributions of money from Sir Henry. The clock and chimes in the tower of St Mary's Church, given in 1903, and paintings at Bury Art Gallery were also gifts of Henry. He married  Louisa Priestley, of the "elegant country house Glead Hill" in Euxton near Chorley and daughter of Peter (d.1861) owner of the nearby Pincock Weaving Mills.


*listed as 'Recruits' on the Penwortham Priory list.

**listed as 'Pleasant Reverie' on the list.


Grateful thanks to:

Dr David Hunt

Bury Art Gallery

Bury Archives Service at Bury Museum

Lancashire County Libraries

Lancashire Record Office




Capes Dunn & Pilcher sale catalogue 1 Nov 1898

Lady Butler 'Autobiography ' Constable and Co Ltd, 1922

online version accessed 25/6/2018 :



Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors… 1769–1904

Blog Preston accessed 26/6/18



Contains biographies of the Whitehead and Kay families, compiled by Hugh Barwell

Accessed 26/6/18

Hodkinson,Kenneth 'Euxton-Burgh, A Pictorial Record of Bygone Days' 1994

Wickham, Annette "What roles have women played at the RA?" Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, Summer 2018, number 139


Penwortham St Mary’s church web page

Vickery, Amanda ‘A gentleman’s daughter’  2003



Preston Past: The Shambles, Lancaster Road

by Paul D. Swarbrick

In the first of this series of bygone times in Preston, we have an image of what is now Lancaster Road and was formerly known as ‘The Shambles’.

The location of the view in this image is what would now be the Miller Arcade, Jacson Street and the Harris Library & Museum. How different it looks today and I tend to think that the odour around that area would have been quite offensive around the time the butchers from the nearby shops used to pour out offal and other animal waste onto the pavement. It must have been an ordeal passing along there in that time.

Most of the town’s butchers could be found displaying their wares behind the columns. The end property, which was on the corner of ‘Gin Bow Entry’ (roughly where Harris Street is now), was Cottam’s Shoulder of Mutton Inn, appropriately named given what was going on further down the road. At the other end of this row along The Shambles, towards Church Street, was a small building which was Prestons first Post Office.

This very old row was demolished in 1896 to make way for the Harris Library & Museum and subsequently the Miller Arcade.

“Shambles” was a name originally used for a street of butchers shops where meat was slaughtered and sold. It is derived from the Middle English word schamel, which meant a bench, as for displaying meat for sale.



Most of the images in this series of articles are from the PHS Image Gallery and by courtesy of the outstanding Preston Digital Archive which is an online archive of images of Preston’s past.

Preston Past: Preston’s ‘Old’ Town (Moot) Hall

by Paul D. Swarbrick

The above image shows a view from Fishergate of the ‘Old’ Town Hall of Preston, occupying the site of the present Crystal House which replaced the former Town Hall of the mid 1800′s to the mid 1900′s. It is probably not such recognisable sight to most Prestonians of today as it was built in 1781/82 following the collapse of the ancient Moot Hall on the same site in 1780. The properties seen at the right were later replaced by the Miller Arcade in 1899.

Only about half the site between Fishergate and the Market Square


was occupied by the Town Hall, the remainder of the site being taken up by timber framed buildings and the image below shows the rear south side of the Town Hall facing the Market Square. The Town Hall was built at a cost of £700.

The insert, on the lower right side of the above image of the rear of the ‘old’ Town Hall, is that of the timber framed buildings that were originally standing on the vacant site. The triple-eaved building in the centre was built for Anne and John Jenkinson and completed in 1629.

 I feel sure you will agree that the buildings looked quite splendid and graced the Square magnificently. These timber framed structures were demolished in 1855 when, at that time, no decision had been made and for some years the council had deliberated as to what to do with the land. Then in 1862 the remainder of the site was flattened when the town hall was demolished to make way for the ill fated Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Town hall which a lot more Prestonians will be more familiar with today.

As a point of interest, one of the old Town Hall clocks was removed and reinstalled at Beech Grove Farm, Greenhalgh near Kirkham and remains there today, still in full working order!


Preston Past:  Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Preston Town Hall

by Paul D. Swarbrick

An Architectural Gem for Preston.

George Gilbert Scott’s Town Hall standing majestically in the Market Square, Preston. 1886—1947

When the fire damage was assessed it was decided by the Town Council to demolish the building but this was entirely and absolutely against the wishes of the public, who had put together an eight thousand signature petition to have it saved and restored to its former glory. However, this never happened and the lower part of the building was stabilised and used for various purposes until 1962 when it was completely demolished to make way for the new and modern Crystal House which remains today and was once voted Preston’s least favourite building and the one that would be most gladly demolished.


Gone – But Not Quite

As a point of local interest, some of the masonry from the town hall still remains today and can be seen along the River Ribble banks at Howick. Anyone looking for a little nostalgia may care to walk down to the river and take a look. There is quite a lot to see. The image below shows a part of the Ribble banks where the masonry can be seen.







Gilbert Scott’s magnificent Town Hall was built between 1862 and 1866 standing on the site of the former Moot Hall between Fishergate and the Market Square. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, a leading architect in the Gothic revival type of architecture. The clock tower, the second largest in Britain after the ‘Big Ben’ tower in London, was south west facing on the corner of Fishergate and Cheapside. However, during the planning stage officials were not sure in which direction the clock tower should face but Gilbert Scott, a man not known for his modesty, reput-edly went on to say “It would look superb regardless of which elevation was chosen for the main street”.






















As with the exterior of the Town Hall, the interior was also rather salubrious in design. The detail on the walls, doors, ceilings and floors was in every aspect quite outstanding. The image to the left shows a glimpse of Scott’s Town Hall interior entrance in 1939.


Disaster Struck

On the night of March 15th1947 a fire mysteriously started and the building was destroyed. One of Preston’s local and eminent historians, the late Marian Roberts, who at that time lived at the Castle Inn on Cheapside, recalled this event by saying “My own first view of this being from my bedroom at 1am, when I awoke just as the fingers of the clock fell to the ground”. Prestonians of that time were reported to have said that you could hear the sound of the hour bell clanging against the masonry of the tower as it fell to the ground.


Preston Past: The Castle Hotel On Cheapside, Market Square

by Paul D. Swarbrick

Originally known as the Castle Inn and was built in 1623, the Castle Hotel was situated in Cheapside opposite the Market Square and is shown in Image 1. It was very much a fa-vourite hostelry in the centre of the town for many Prestonians. This was also the chosen establishment for the meeting place of many building societies and insurance companies of Preston and the surrounding areas.

The whole building, especially the interior had a style of grandeur about it and Peter Whittle in his ‘History Of Pre-ston’ (1837) wrote…


“The Castle Inn, in the Market Place was erected in 1623 and was at that time deemed to be an elegant build-ing. A fine chimney piece was placed in a room over the gateway, consisting of a frontispiece (over the fire-place) carved with a mass of miniature columns, arches, niches and caryatids, piled up to the ceiling. The col-umns were after the Grecian style of architecture. This piece of work was executed by Lawrence Winstanley, carver in Preston.”



To have an idea of How the hotel appeared in earlier times, image 2 shows the Castle and Commercial Ho-tel Watercolour by Edwin Beattie

One of the notable events held at the Castle Hotel in 1865 was on the completion of Preston’s, new Town Hall, when one hundred and fifty of the workmen in-volved with the Town Hall construction were enter-tained to a considerable lunch paid for by the Corpo-ration and the contractors. I hesitate to think that this could happen in this day and age.

Around 1910 the Castle Hotel was purchased by the Refuge Assurance Company, was transformed into com-mercial premises and was then known as ‘Castle Chambers’. During the years following the change of use companies and shops were to occupy the various units the building was divided into. In the early part of the twentieth century the Football League were to take up tenancy in part of the premises and remained there for some years. In the main photograph above of the Castle Hotel, it can be seen that the premises on the lower right of the image is the Argenta Meat Company based in Oldham who, interestingly, eventually became Dewhurst’s The Master Butchers. Also in this image the underpass to the left of the butchers that would originally lead to the courtyard behind the hotel and eventually became a narrow thoroughfare leading to the premises of the


Lancashire Eve-ning Post for use of their vans to collect newspapers from the presses for delivery.

In the early 1990′s, following the closure of Castle Chambers in 1989, the whole of the building was remodelled and was replaced by shops as it is today. One small feature still remains though and that is a small ‘spur stone’ at the junction of two of the shops and this is illustrated in the image below. I wonder how many people pass this every day on Cheapside in Preston and never really notice it. Image 3 illustrates the remaining existence of one of the spur stones of the former underpass.

Notable people of Preston—Marian Roberts1920-2007

By Gillian Lawson, Archivist of the Preston Historical Society

In many respects Marian Roberts was one of Preston’s great historians of the twentieth century. Not only has she written numerous papers, now deposited in the University of Central Lancashire’s special collections, she was much loved and respected by her contemporaries, in such institutions as the Friends of the Harris, the Preston Historical Society and the Lancashire Records Office.

In 2004 she received the British Association for Local History Award for Personal Achievement.

Marian was born on 11th March 1920 in Bloomfield Street, Preston, and at the age of five she moved with her family to a flat in Castle Chambers, Market Place, Preston, this was the home of the Refuge Assurance Company where her mother became the caretaker. Marian

 lived with her parents at the chambers until 1949. From the windows

of the house facing onto the market place Marian was able to witness many Civic events such as royal visits and processions of successive mayors taking place on the flag market. She would have witnessed many other occasions from this vantage point, such as the return of Preston North End in 1938 when they won the F.A. Cup, the pot fair, the Whitsuntide fair and of course the fateful fire at the Town Hall, she would have witnessed the clock fingers falling to the ground from her bedroom window.

In her early years Marian spent most evenings in the Harris Museum and Library opposite Castle Chambers where her great love of this fine institution grew. She was able to walk around the many exhibits, one of her favourites was the doll’s house on display in one of the galleries. At the age of 14 Marian left school and went to work as a clerical assistant in industry and then for Lancashire County Council. It was while working at County Hall that she met and married Louis in 1949. They lived in several areas of Preston but eventually moved to Watling Street Road.

When Louis died of cancer in 1980 Marian was devastated at this great loss, the same year she retired from the Royal Infirmary where she worked as a part time ward secretary. To help alleviate the resulting despair Marian joined a class on palaeography at the Lancashire Records Office, it was from this that her interest and enthusiasm for local history grew. She went on to join the Friends of the Museum working as a volunteer and it was there that the Keeper of Social History—Frank Carpenter, knowing Marian’s interest in Winckley Square and the Addison family, gave her several bags of Addison papers to read and asked if she would catalogue them. The results of her research that followed are now housed in the County Records Office.

In the late 1980’s Marian published a book called The Story of Winckley Square, which was acclaimed by local historians as the definitive work on the square; sadly it is no longer in print but is available in the library. Throughout the years she gave many talks to local societies and was always on hand to help with history projects. All royalties from the sale of her book and fees from the talks she gave were donated to St. Catherine’s Hospice.

In 2001 at the age of 82 Marian and her sister Elsie moved to Wymondham in Norfolk to be close to her niece. Before she left for Norfolk a civic recep-tion was held at the Harris Museum in her honour. Sadly on 21st February 2007 Marian died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.


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