Leyland Historical Society

The George IV Hotel now Barristers

This Hotel was built onto the original adjacent cottages, being known prior to 1820, when George IV came to the throne, as " The Grapes ". Adjacent to the hotel used to be three cottages featured in one of David Grant's drawings, being demolished in 1875 by John Stanning, of the Bleach Works to make way for three houses he had erected. Of these, two have been demolished to enable the Conservative Club to be built.

We now cross Towngate (B 5254) at the busy traffic light controlled junction and immediately return to the quiet of the cul-de-sac that is now Spring Gardens, we enter down the side of the George IV Hotel.

The Old Library

As it states on the front of the building, this was Leyland's first constabulary station, being established in approximately 1857, the Lancashire Constabulary being formed in 1839. This building was designed to accommodate a married sergeant and a married constable. Two cells were provided but there were no court facilities and this omission may account for its premature closure. When they moved to their new station on Golden Hill in 1882, it was used for police accommodation.

In the 1930's, the library, which until then had been conducted from a room under the stage in the public hall, moved into the building, remaining there until in the early seventies. Leyland finally got a purpose built building on Lancastergate; the old building now being home to the Job Club on the ground floor while upstairs is the Navy Club, previously the Hall Club.

Salvation Army Hall

This building was built by the parishioners of St Ambrose Church to provide a club facility, which was unable to be built at the time nearer to their church in Moss Lane. The Salvation Army then took over the building until they sold it and the present owners, Leyland Health & Fitness Centre, now look after the body and not the soul.

The Old Timber Yard

The site was developed by John Tomlinson's timber yard, remaining as such until it was closed in the late seventies, the buildings being demolished to make way for the town centre redevelopment, it is still an empty and undeveloped site today.

War Memorial

The War Memorial was built in 1929 after raising the £1295 required by public subscription. The names of the men who fell in the Second World War were added, with the unveiling ceremony being held on Sunday September 16th, 1951.

From our position on the Tesco supermarket car park, our path now heads along St Andrews Way.         

St Andrews Green and Prefabs from the War Memorial

This area has had many names including the George V Playing Fields, the name with a different King later appearing on Worden Park as the name of the children's playground. The Rec (short for recreation ground, not a description of the area), was the usual scene for the visits of the Fairs and Circuses until the building of the supermarket car park led to the visiting shows having to relocate to West Paddock.

Before the prefabs this was the site of Leyland's first petrol station just off Sandy Lane. The rows of prefabricated houses on Sandy Lane and Eden Street were built in the mid 1940's, the first prefab being constructed between December 1945 and January 1946. These were occupied by Cyril Corbett and his wife Dorothy and Mr V Orrell and his wife who appeared in the Leyland Guardian for 1st February 1946 as they were handed the keys in a little ceremony.

By the 1980's they had all disappeared, their site being covered by St Andrews Way and the new doctors surgery. This practise having moved from their original home at Merlin House on Sandy Lane then moved to Church Road opposite the gateway to the Parish Church which was demolished to make way for the new town centre in the early seventies. The practise then made the final move to their new home back in Sandy Lane.               

The Crescent Terrace

This row of terraced houses dates from before the First World War, the offices at the Church Road end of the terrace being at one time a small private school run by a Miss Griffiths.

Taking a short cut around the doctor’s surgery buildings brings you to a pedestrian crossing over St Andrews Way.

Victoria Terrace

This terrace at a right angle to Sandy Lane includes two large houses, which had been used for a private maternity hospital and a private school run by a Miss Fry.

Merlyn House

This house was the home of Dr Cank in the period from the late 1930's until after the war, his surgery being in the attached building on the left. Dr Cank was a personal friend of Frank Randle, the music hall and Mancunian Film star, who was a frequent visitor and actually employed the doctor as a singer on the stage when a member of the cast fell ill.

The house was named after Dr Cyril Meredith Willmott and Evelyn Berry, the daughter of Dr Berry, who lived here after their marriage.

Prospect House

This was the home of the Berry families, who could trace their forebear's to a single strand. The doctors living at Prospect House while the millowners lived at Townfield House in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The doctor’s surgery was established in the former stables, though following the arrival of Doctors Wilmott, Fotheringham, Mc Bride and Meagher, the surgery moved to Occleshaw House in 1958. Prospect House was then brought by the Senior Citizens of Leyland with funds given by Miss Gregson of Heald House.

Townfield House continues to hide its features behind the tall hedge, which from old photographs has been a feature of Sandy Lane for many years. It has been established, however, that a loom shop was in the cellar.

Townfield House

When Edmund Berry, then 40 years old, purchased the Higher Town Field from Elizabeth Collier of Preston (Widow) for five shillings on 17th May 1836, the only other building on the lane was the Farington owned cottage further down the lane. It has been established that the Colliers were the landlords of the Ship Inn in 1817.

          The plot of  land was bordered by the Ginnel, then still the field path, and the lane itself; the smaller triangle of  land was later sold to John Berry, a surgeon, the son of  Edmund Berry, the first of  the Berry doctors.

          Being a cotton manufacturer, Edmund Berry built his house with its own loom shop in the cellar, the entry being by curving steps into the back yard. The basement consists of four main rooms, with internal glassed windows, panelled doors and two large windows at the front and one at the rear.  
          The house itself was equipped with the latest technology, bell pushes in every room linked to the kitchen where the servants waited on the Berry’s. The servants lived on the top floor but the stairs to that floor and the roof lit windows disappeared in a later rebuild and reroofing of the property.

          Attached to the house a single storey office was built, while two cottages completed the original buildings. At various times, one cottage was occupied by the overseer and his wife who was a servant in the house, while the other cottage was occupied by the Berry's coachman. The second storey over the office and the porch and new back door were added by later owners of the property.

The Leyland Motors Housing Society Ltd.

The Leyland Motors Ltd housing plan was based on land owned by the council and the Motors. The original development included hostels, shops and a cinema along Canberra Road, which never got past the drawing board, though the houses were all built. The council built the houses to let, whereas the Motors Housing Society was formed to build houses to sell.

The houses were needed to enable the employees to move from the wooden bungalow town which was situated in the area that later became the Motors club car park. The gross cost of the sample houses of concrete and steel was originally valued between £ 600 and £ 700, with the sample houses in Sandy Lane and Broad Square being built in the early part of 1920 by the Leyland Construction Co Ltd.

By the following year, the houses had been started in Church Road, the cost had now gone up to £ 1100 for a four bed roomed house, though with the Government subsidy this was reduced to £ 760. The houses continued to be built in the next few years by local building contractors, the influence of the Motors Housing Society declining, until by the early 1930's the estate we know today was completed.

The only originally council owned streets being Mead Avenue and Lindsay Avenue though these today are now almost all privately owned following the sale of council properties in recent years.

Sandy Lane

Sandy Lane used to live up to its name being sandy and full of potholes between Turpin Green Lane and Church Road. It had been a private lane with gates at either end, the gate near the church being adjacent to Victoria Terrace, while the gate at the other end was close to Charnock Old Hall.

On the 1844 Map there was only Charnock Old Hall and Townfield House along the whole length of Sandy Lane. By the 1896 Ordnance Survey, from the Church Road end, there was the small cottage with an orchard opposite, which is Victoria Terrace. Further north, the houses of Pembroke Place, Prospect House and a small part of the long terrace opposite had been built. Though beyond the Ginnel at the side of Prospect House, the lane still passed through fields until it reached Charnock Old Hall.

The section of the road from Broad Square to Turpin Green Lane being incorporated into the new Balcarres Road when the development started in 1920.

Leyland Motors Social & Athletic Club

From its first meeting held on November 5th 1919, the club grew from a few enthusiastic employees and members of staff, until at its height, the club could boast twenty one sections featuring the following: - Football, two teams; Cricket, three teams; Ladies Cricket team; Rugby; Bowls; Tennis; Hockey; Amateur Athletics; Track & Cross Country Running; Road Walking; Angling; Badminton; Male Voice and Ladies Choir; Brass Band; Golf; Indoor Swimming and a Rifle Section with a 25 yards indoor range.

The 1939 - 1940 season saw the building of the pavilion and the club facilities that survive to this day, despite the best endeavours of Leyland - DAF before their untimely demise. When the workforce numbered up to 10,000, the annual works ball was held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, while the Children's Christmas Party was attended by about 2000 children on three separate Saturdays.

Since the book was written, the access to the Social & Athletic Club complex from Broad Square was cut when the new courts and playing surfaces were laid. The Club was then demolished and the Gym complex has now taken its place.

Leyland Motors Day Continuation School

On Monday 26th April 1920, the Works School for Young Employers was opened in the specially erected wooden building which adjoined the recreation ground. The school consisted of a large room, very light and airy. There were 125 pupils at first, whose ages varied from 14 to 16 years, 6 months.

The subjects taught in the school were not confined to motor engineering but included the ordinary continuation school curriculum of English, History, Geography, Drawing, Mathematics and Physical Training. Each group of apprentices attended one day in the week, one Saturday in five and one week's educational camp in the summer.

An engineering scholarship could be won from the Day Continuation School. A boy named Markland topped the examination at the end of the first year in May 1921 and won a scholarship to Wellington House. Many years later, he became a director of the company and the firm’s chief engineer.

In the middle of the 1930's, the school moved from the wooden building to a purpose built building in Broad Square, which they continued to use until it was closed down in the 1970's.           

Broad Square

This was the first area to be developed in the Leyland Motors Housing Society Ltd., the houses on Broad Square being part of the sample houses built to show the prospective owners.

Leyland Motors South Works

The site of the South Works stretches from Balcarres Road to Hough Lane, being acquired by the Motors during the First World War. It was first used for the construction of the various types of bodies for the R.A.F. vehicles and the erection of a three-storey building to provide canteen facilities for its employees when their numbers increased during the war.

The body building department eventually covered over 210,000 sq. ft. of floor space, including timber drying kilns, storage sheds, sawmill, upholstery department, sheet metal machine shops, body erection shops, paint and varnishing rooms and finishing shops.

The South Works also housed the chief engineers staff, the chassis and body designers and draughtsmen being accommodated on the top floor of the canteen building with the experimental and research and developments close by. The Apprentices Training Centre, where boys received practical training is now known as Kings Court, this and the Commercial Vehicle Museum being the only buildings left on the site today.

Charnock Old Hall

Charnock Old Hall, a Grade II listed building, is situated on the length of Balcarres Road that was previously known as Sandy Lane before the building developments of the 1930's. It has been called many names through the years including Blacklache Hall, The Old Hall, Leyland Hall and Charnock Hall. Though its most famous occupants were the Charnocks from Cuerden in the 17th century, who had been living in Leyland for close on 100 years prior to their move to the Old Hall.

When William Charnock died in 1598, his son Roger then aged 11 was left the estate. These Charnocks were a well-known Roman Catholic family, this being a period when this was not a politically correct position to be in. The estate then passes to Robert Charnock, a Roman Catholic priest, who rebuilt the Hall in 1660 as denoted by the coat of arms above the door and the letters
“ I.H.S. A.M. R.C.1660”.

Before he died in 1670, he conveyed his estate to a Grace Bold, the house and estate to be left in trust for the benefit of the priests and secular clergy. It being his wish that the Hall should one day become the residence of a Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancashire. After a trial at the Lancaster Assizes in 1686, it was declared that the property being so left was illegal. In 1688, the Exchequer declared the property forfeited to the King and following a petition of the parishioners, the house and lands were granted to the Vicars of Leyland as glebe land.

It then became a farmhouse, as the houses encroached from one side and the Motors South Works advanced from the other, the hall eventually being converted to two individual properties.

Balcarres Road

The name of this road was taken from a former Member of Parliament for the Chorley constituency, Lord Balcarres. He later became Earl Crawford hence Crawford Avenue. The road was built over the northern part of  the much older Sandy Lane, when the area from here to Church Road was developed as a garden village in the 1920's and 1930's by Leyland Urban District Council, Leyland Motors and Leyland Construction Limited.