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   Preston's Corner

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Corner of Bank Street and Deansgate with Churchgate to the right and Bradshawgate behind the camera. Date unknown. Clearly after 1877 because the Umbrella Shop is there. See a lower picture which indicates that this is after 1887.


The UMBRELLA shop of James Jameson was a prominent landmark. He is known to have been at 6 Bradshawgate in 1871 and moved here to 4 Deansgate in 1877. Immediately to its left is a small shop which is Whiteheads. It is not clear on this picture whether they also occupy the larger building further to the left but not much later they would occupy most of the block.



The "new" Unitarian Chapel can just be seen to the left of the Vose sign. Notice on that corner the stone quoins which remain visible for many years but the rest of the wall is plain without any half timbering.


We notice J Bell's shop on Bank Street.


There are a number of ghosts on the picture caused by people not remaining still over the longish exposure needed by the cameras of that era.

This is the next appearance of that corner. Prestons moved here in 1905 but is unclear when this building was erected. Notice that Jamesons and Whiteheads have had their frontages improved.


A bit of cut and paste is suspected at the lower left hand corner!

This is the same building but we can see it more clearly with its tower.


The Umbrella shop is still next door so the picture dates between 1905 and 1909.


Churchgate. There is no real or false half-timbered frontage. At the right of the picture we have a rather fine building with ornate balconies which in 1890 had a sign board above the gutters proclaiming “ Taylor, Builder” but now indicates “Derby Building” (or builders). The centre of the sign board depicts the elephant and castle (c1890 and c1908) which has been for many years a symbol of Bolton. Gaskell Court is at the bottom right of this building.


We note Beswick's which was still there in the 1960s. Also Bolton's Temperance Bar.


We have the cabbies' cabin. There was a similar one at the taxi rank on Trinity Street.


A picture from David Whenlock's collection


This is from the Crown Street end of the block and is probably contemporary with the picture above. It shows clearly that at this time Whiteheads own the block from Crown Street to the Umbrella shop but have not yet rebuilt it into the form with which we are familiar.


For all its simplicity it is already quite atttractive in its details with the leaf frieze, the shop corner typical of the better shops of that era and the plain rectangles one of which has the clock.

Picture posted on Facebook by Peter Lodge.


Whiteheads has now been rebuilt and the Market Cross is in place so the picture is no later than 1909 but the latest Prestons building has not yet appeared so is before 1913. We notice that the Umbrella shop is still there.

The whole Whiteheads and Prestons building shortly after 1913. When Whitehead's was first rebuilt it was symmetrical about a single gable. When Prestons rebuilt a second gable was created, occupied by Whitehead's Fur Store but Prestons occupied the other symmetrical part of the frontage as well as the corner.

Here is Preston's latest format pictured in September 2009.




Prestons was established on Bradshawgate in 1869 by James Preston a master Goldsmith and diamond merchant, In 1905 James Preston died of apoplexy, and the business passed to his niece, Gertrude Duckworth.  It remained in the Duckworth family for four generations, and Gordon Duckworth joined the company in 1949 and began a phase of expansion opening a successful branch in Leigh as well as others. It was after Gordon's son Andrew joined the firm in 1972 that a new marketing tactic saw Prestons become probably the first jewellery retailer in the country to and started advertise on television. Preston's was marketed as a true destination store with a conceptual and ground-breaking national marketing campaign using television and the cinema.


In 1905 Preston’s acquired the site on the West corner of Deansgate / Bank Street. In 1909 Whiteheads acquired the rest of the block as far as Crown Street and remodeled it to its present form. In 1913 Prestons rebuilt to match Whiteheads.


The business name was changed to Preston & Duckworth in 2002. The company struggled in the face of the high street spending slowdown and the family-owned firm, with seven shops around the country, was placed in administration in June 2005 after running up debts of more than £3million. Administrators were forced to sell Preston & Duckworth stores individually because potential buyers were reluctant to risk buying the whole business.


Prestons of Bolton is now owned by Macclesfield based Cotrills.(2015)


In 2016 Prestons had a long-running closing down sale and finally closed


In 2016 we have the "Elephant and Castle" on the Deansgate frontage of this block.

We will now move back on to Bradshawgate for a look at this building and a puzzle regarding dates.




Looking from Bradshawgate towards Preston's corner 1887


Decorated for Victoria’s Golden Jubilee  (Victoria: born 1819; accession to the throne 1837; died 1901).


Note the umbrella shop to left of what became Preston’s and the shop on the corner still in place, with the name over the windows which looks like Anderson or Anderton... This picture presumably precedes the one at the head of the page where this shop has no name and seems to be boarded up.


Bradshawgate has not yet been widened (work done 1905-1910)

A fantastic picture from Edward Thompson.


The date is no earlier than 1900 when the trams were electrified.        


The Umbrella shop has had its frontage modernised so it is like the second of the pictures above, not the first.


The shop on the corner (later Preston's) is still the old building as in the first picture above.


Peter Lodge had noted that on the 1891 map this corner was rounded and so the ornate building of the second picture must have been built before that date but this picture seems to refute that.


This means that the building in the second picture was built no later than 1900 and was replaced in 1913 giving it an even shorter life than we had assumed.


We note the older and newer Unitarian Chapels on Bank Street and the Swan Inn on the right with Hope Bros shop still occupying the corner.

Bradshawgate Deansgate corner, apparently at one time known as "Hope" or “Hope's Corner”. This is before the widening of Bradshawgate c1910.


Hope Bros Gentlemen's outfitters no. 2 Churchgate.


This premises on the corner separates the two part of the Swan Hotel on Churchgate and Bradshawgate.

Opposite Prestons was the Swan Hotel and Hope Bros gentlemen's outfitters.

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It may be that at this date it is no longer Hope Bros. It has been renamed "The Smart Outfitting Co, hosiers, hatters", "Experts in Gents wear". we see that "all our goods are reduced in price"  "prices lowered to reduce stock"  and "reducing stock".


It may be that this is because the Swan Hotel has bought the property and is about to amalgamate it into the hotel.


The two separate parts of the Swan can be seen either side of the shop.

Swan Hotel corner, the shop has now disappeared.



It is believed that a Swan Hotel has stood on this site since the 1700s or earlier. The present building dates from about 1845. It was extended and altered in 1930-31 and 1984-5.



Note at this date the no entry to Churchgate and the modern building at far left.

24th September 2009

Probably 1897


The Swan, Churchgate, is decorated probably for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.


Notice the cabbie’s hut.



With the ladder and the way the men are posing, the middle two appear to have overalls on, they have probably just completed the decoration.

VR Victoria certainly. There is probably a date on the scroll below the crown but it cannot be read. 1897 is much more likely than the Golden Jubilee ten years earlier.

        Now we look at the southwest corner of this junction.

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Bradshawgate Deansgate corner.

Bolton Museum Archive picture 1997.

You can see back as far as the Fleece, here called the Gaiety, before that Maxim's and now the Flying Flute. ("Fleece Hotel" can still be seen in the terra-cotta brickwork above the door.) The large shop on the corner will be remembered by many as Jones shoe shop.

Bradshawgate Deansgate corner.

Bolton Evening News picture, 1957


Viewed from Churchgate with another name on the corner shop that some may remember - Vernon Humpage. Also shoes?

Corner of Bradshawgate (into the picture) and Deansgate (to the right). This is the full picture of which the left hand side was shown above.


Bankrupt sale. Did the same company own all the shops on the Bradshawgate frontage or all they all closing down in preparation for demolition c1910?





detail of woodwork and the iron rails on the window ledges.

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24th September 2009 (C) WDC Subway


By 2016 ( (C)WDC ) Subway had closed and the shop had been empty for a while. It is now being renovated for Miller Metcalfe whose frontage makes Subway look quite elegant and restrained!


This is a really nice building. They got it right in 1910 or thereabouts.


Part or all of this building is called the Whewell Building.

Finally we will look at the north east corner between Bank Street and Churchgate.

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One of David Whenlock's postcards posted December 1903. (enhanced by WDC)


The signs are quite different from those to be seen on the picture at the top of this page. Vose, established 1840 had a number of shops in Bolton. The writing on the window specifies just two others at this time -  46 Newport Street and 281 Derby Street together with works at 22 Silverwell Lane.


UCP was formed in 1920 with the amalgamation of Vose of Bolton, Mason of Burnley and Cox of Bury. Part of the agreement was that the Vose name would continue to appear as well as UCP. (Denis McCann)


Some time later there were many UCP shops in Bolton - most also retaining the name Vose. Ones which will be familiar to people looking at pictures of Old Bolton will be the one next to the Wheatsheaf on the Great Moor Street / Newport Street corner, The restaurant on Deansgate close to Oxford Street and the one on Bradshawgate near the Lido cinema.


Notice that the wall is clearly brick built with no sign of half-timbering. Note that Churchgate appears to be Church Gate.

Picture from Edward Thompson.


Probably 1920s


The corner shop is now clearly UCP though Vose still appears on the awning and on the sign on Bank Street.


The wall is still brick or maybe rendered but there is now mock Tudor black and white on two shops to the right and at Gaskell Court.


"Steelwork, Booth, Bolton" - is the iron and glass awning at the front of the Theatre Royal just being built?

Bolton Museum Archive Humphrey Spender collection 1937.


The corner shop is no longer UCP or Vose's and now has fake half-timbering

Quite early picure of this corner. No information available.

Bolton Evening News April 1957.


Owen's, Beswick with K shoes.


Wolseley car with a back end like a Morris; a lot of police cars were the high powered version of this model.

 On the next couple of pages we look around Churchgate, Church Bank and Church Wharf.

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